Alstom slashes spare parts production time from 45 days to 48 hours with 3D Printing

From 45 days to just 48 hours. That was what Alstom, a France-based rolling stock manufacturer, did after streamlining emergency spare parts production using 3D printing for their client.

As a provider of rolling stock, services and maintenance, one of Alstom’s recent projects was to produce a set of emergency spare parts for Algeria’s Sétif Tramways where 3D printing took center stage.

One of Alstom’s clients, Algeria’s Sétif Tramways, came to them to fix their tram headlights that had sustained internal damage from the accumulation of water and debris.

Via its in-house 3D printing facility, Alstom created rubber drainage plugs that sealed the holes in the trams’ headlights. The plugs were printed using Stratasys F370, with a dozen being designed, produced, and delivered all within just 48 hours.

3D printed rubber drainage plugs (Photos: Alstom)

We avoided the minimum three-week production lead-time typically required of traditional manufacturing methods and ensured the tram networks’ operations were minimized.

For our customers like Sétif, every minute of lead time within a network means lost revenue, so every minute we can win back when solving maintenance issues reduces that loss.

Aurélien Fussel, Additive Manufacturing Programme Manager at Alstom

In addition to the shortened lead time from 45 days to 48 hours, there were additional savings from using 3D printing as opposed to the more expensive labor-intensive molding or casting processes – an 80% reduction in fixed cost and saved Sétif approximately 6,000 euros.

When it comes to applications in heavy industries like transport, robust 3D printing materials with the properties required to handle high stresses and other extreme conditions are crucial.

The rubber drainage plugs was printed using TPU 92A, an advanced highly durable elastomer material. Combining flexibility and tear resistant properties, this elastomeric material has proved ideal for the demands of sustained exterior use – with the parts still running today.

As we’ve seen during COVID-19, in some regards 3D printing has had its watershed moment, with more and more manufacturers embracing the technology to increase their production agility and reduce supply chain dependency.Yann Rageul, Head of Manufacturing Business Unit for EMEA, Stratasys
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