By Industrial Print Staff
When a manufacturer sits down with an expert in the three-dimensional (3D) printing field and truly takes the time to study the various parts it needs to process, it’s fascinating how many can be accurately and effectively created with the help of additive manufacturing (AM).
RehaMedPower is a German-based medical supplier specializing in wheelchairs. When it was preparing to develop and bring to market a new electric wheelchair, the RP1, it struggled to find a cost-effective solution for part production, with traditional manufacturing methods requiring high initial investment costs and expensive molds as well as an increase in prototyping and product-to-market time.
Using HP’s Multi Jet Fusion technology, RehaMedPower turned to Replique to explore AM for wheelchair design from prototyping to serial production. Together, RehaMedPower and Replique identified more parts than initially planned that could be manufactured in PA12, taking advantage of the technology’s greater flexibility in early production stages and cost-convenience compared to traditional manufacturing methods.
Replique played another role in the process as well. Costs are further reduced thanks to the digital storage of design files through Replique’s digital warehousing platform, enabling a faster go-to-market strategy and keeping RehaMedPower’s working capital low.
Replique’s digital inventory platform is secure, convenient, and cost efficient. End-to-end encrypted, parts can only be produced in the requested amount with fixed parameters. To ensure smooth process integration, the digital inventory connects to a company’s existing ordering and sales channels.
“With 3D printed prototypes we reduced our development time significantly,” comments Thyl Junker, head of development, RehaMedPower. “When it comes to serial production in our industry, teaming up with Replique also offers some crucial benefits, such as flexibility in demand planning with production on demand and the ability to implement changes rapidly and offer special parts to meet the individual needs.”
3D printing technology is ideal for on demand, custom manufacturing—and wheelchairs are no exception. AM makes it possible for wheelchairs to be more flexible in design and adapt to individual patient requirements. With RehaMedPower’s RP1 wheelchair, patients can customize and tailor various parts to their needs and lifestyles as well as choose from a wide color range.
With this in mind, between 19 and 23 individual parts are 3D printed for each wheelchair, depending on the specific customer or patient purchase.
As of today, RehaMedPower experienced a 30 percent reduction in development time and 60 percent reduction in prototyping costs compared to injection molding.
The successful launch of the RP1 wheelchair in 2022 generated widespread adoption across Europe and as far as New Zealand. Going forward, RehaMedPower plans to build on this momentum by incorporating more AM designs in the RP1 wheelchair and developing new products. It also plans to offer fast spare part availability during the use phase via Replique’s global production network, bringing on demand production of spare parts to patients and customers whenever and wherever they are needed.
Nov2023, Industrial Print Magazine