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Alstom turns to Replique for serial AM part production

Enabling Alstom to digitize its supply chain, and produce small batches, on-demand and decentrally

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Alstom, a global leader in green and smart mobility, has partnered with Replique – using the company’s on-demand additive manufacturing platform to produce customized industrial-grade, serial production parts. By digitizing its supply chain, Alstom is now able to produce small batches, on-demand and decentrally – enabling the company to respond even better to its customers’ needs. Replique reduces the complexity within the supply chain – ensuring that the first series is not only produced faster, but also cost-competitively.

“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,” said Ben Boese, 3D Printing Hub Manager of Alstom Transport Deutschland GmbH.

In train manufacturing, small batch sizes lead to high manufacturing costs – due to the costs associated with the production of molds and other tools. 3D printing can solve this challenge by eliminating these fixed costs. As a result, parts can be produced economically, even in small quantities. Alstom has already taken advantage of the technology within the production of spare parts. Now, the company can also fulfill specific customer needs using additive serial production.

Alstom partners with Replique to implement first AM serial production part. Enabling Alstom to digitize its supply chain
Replique was able to qualify and produce the doorstopper for additive serial production within just one and a half months

Since Alstom operates worldwide, and each train component has different requirements, the company needs a scalable solution for decentral manufacturing with industrial-grade quality. Alstom, therefore, works closely with Replique, leveraging the expertise and capabilities of a 3D printing network where all partners are carefully selected and qualified.

“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,” said Boese.

The flexibility of Replique’s platform is shown in a first use case within Alstom’s OEM business. In order to meet a specific customer request, Alstom needed several doorstoppers for a partition door that will divide the passenger compartment of a diesel multiple-unit into a first and second class. The small number of such components is usually an obstacle to initial production and typically, such projects cause delays as a result of long delivery times. Therefore, Alstom chose additive manufacturing as the production method.

Replique assisted Alstom with material and technology selection and was able to qualify and deliver the doorstopper for serial production within just one and a half months. During this process, the doorstopper went through the protocols of initial sample testing and assembly, and received the final approval for series production.

Alstom partners with Replique to implement first AM serial production part. Enabling Alstom to digitize its supply chain
Careful material and technology selection lead to high quality and durable end parts printed with Ultrafuse 316L

“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,” explained Boese.

To enable on-demand production, careful qualification including the selection of the right material is crucial. The doorstopper must not only fulfill its function over the entire service life of the train but also meet high aesthetic standards, as it is a visible part inside the train compartment – stainless steel was, therefore, the material of choice. Thanks to 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, Replique was able to significantly reduce costs compared to other additive manufacturing processes, such as powder bed fusion using 316L.

“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,” said Dr. Max Siebert, CEO, and founder of Replique.

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Edward Wakefield

Edward is a freelance writer and additive manufacturing enthusiast looking to make AM more accessible and understandable.

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