Parts Reuse

Reuse is to use an item again after it has been used. This includes conventional reuse where the item is used again for the same function, and new-life reuse where it is used for a different function.2

When NASA looks to recycle parts, it doesn’t send employees to the salvage yard; instead, the agency looks at existing programs and projects for opportunities to salvage previously used, sometimes failed, parts.1

There are many benefits to salvaging parts, the most obvious of which is saving money. Production time is also cut down when you reuse viable old parts. It also increases part availability because a lot of hardware is specially made or fabricated and has limited availability. By taking useful products and exchanging them, without reprocessing, reuse helps save time, money, energy, and resources.2

However, there are some disadvantages associated with parts reuse. Reuse often requires cleaning or transport, which has environmental costs. As certain parts continue to be reused, some could be hazardous or less energy efficient. Reusable products need to be more durable than single-use products, and hence require more material per item. This is particularly significant if only a small proportion of the reusable products is in fact reused. Furthermore, special skills are required to tweak the functional throughput of an item if that item is being reused in an area outside of its original purpose.3

Salvaging parts can provide an affordable and manageable avenue for creating back-up or spare products. As budgets and timetables continue to shrink, remember: when you salvage you save.1


Different Forms of Product Recovery3

  • Reuse implies that items are used by a second customer without prior repair operations or as originally designed. However in this module, reuse denotes any form of reusing an old part.
  • Repair is the process of bringing damaged components back to a functional condition.
  • Refurbishing/Reconditioning is the process of restoring components to a functional and/or satisfactory state to the original specification, using methods such as resurfacing, repainting, etc.
  • Recycling is the process of taking a component material and processing it to make the same material or useful degraded material.
  • Remanufacturing is the process of disassembly and recovery at the module level and, eventually, at the component level. It requires the repair or replacement of worn out or obsolete components and modules.