Alstom, a global leader in green and smart mobility, is producing customized industrial-grade serial parts using Replique’s on-demand 3D printing platform. Alstom can now produce small batches on demand and in a decentralized way by digitizing its supply chain. This enables the company to better meet the needs of its customers. Replique reduces supply chain complexity, allowing first series to be produced not only faster, but also at a lower cost.
Replique was founded by BASF employees from the fields of materials science and digitization. It provides a secure digital platform that enables OEMs to provide parts on-demand to their customers through a global and decentralized 3D printing network.
“Additive manufacturing is now a key part of our supply chain. With Replique, we benefit from 3D printing and materials expertise, as well as a decentralized manufacturing network covering all relevant locations and technologies. Their end-to-end services enable us to respond faster and more cost-effectively to different customer requirements.”– Ben Boese, 3D Printing Hub Manager of Alstom Transport Deutschland GmbH
Replique’s On-Demand 3D Printing Platform
Small batch sizes in train manufacturing result in high manufacturing costs due to the production of molds and other tools. By eliminating fixed costs, 3D printing can address this issue. As a result, even small quantities of parts can be produced economically. Alstom has already benefited from the technology in the production of spare parts. They can now use additive serial production to meet specific customer needs.
Alstom requires a scalable solution for decentralized manufacturing in industrial grade quality because they operate globally and each train component has different requirements. Alstom collaborates closely with Replique, leveraging the expertise and capabilities of an on-demand 3D printing platform and network comprised of carefully selected and qualified partners.
Boese added, “The additive manufacturing market is still very fragmented, which makes it impossible for end users to find an optimal solution for each part. With Replique, we benefit from all major additive manufacturing technologies and materials from a single source. In addition, we receive optimal technological preparation.”
First series release for additively manufactured train part
A first use case within Alstom’s OEM business demonstrates the platform’s flexibility. Alstom needed several doorstoppers for a partition door that divides the passenger compartment of a diesel multiple units into first and second class to meet a specific customer request. The small number of such components is usually an impediment to initial production, resulting in project delays due to long delivery times. Alstom chose additive manufacturing as the production method as a result.
Replique assisted Alstom with material and technology selection, and the doorstopper was qualified and delivered for serial production in just 1.5 months. The doorstopper went through the protocols of initial sample testing and assembly during this process and received final approval for series production.
Boese explained, “We were able to produce the doorstopper in a cost-neutral manner compared to conventional methods. Within the near future, we plan to further exploit the technology’s potential by creating topology-optimized designs of new parts, or even make them lighter by using reduced infill.”
Advanced materials enable cost-efficient additive manufacturing of the doorstopper
To enable on-demand production, careful qualification, including material selection, is essential. The doorstopper must not only perform its function for the duration of the train’s service life, but it must also meet high aesthetic standards because it is a visible part inside the train compartment. These specifications are met by stainless steel. Of course, the doorstopper should be produced at a low cost. Replique was able to significantly reduce costs compared to other additive manufacturing processes, such as powder bed with 316L, by using FDM 3D printing with Ultrafuse® 316L from Forward AM, a brand of Replique’s material partner BASF 3D Printing Solutions, followed by debinding and sintering.
“Alstom has already shown in the past how 3D printing can be integrated in a lean and cost-efficient way. They are pioneers in additive manufacturing, and we look forward to supporting them on their journey to simplify and fully digitize their supply chain for all printable series and spare parts,” says Dr. Max Siebert, CEO and founder of Replique.
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