Replica discusses its crypto 3D printing platform
As 3D printing becomes more and more popular, big companies are trying to find ways to test the technologies. However, investing in machinery can be expensive, especially when your workforce is not trained in additive manufacturing. Luckily, there are other solutions, like our 3D printing startup of the month for July, Replique. The 3D printing platform is designed for end-to-end industrial 3D printing and hopes to make 3D printing more accessible to businesses around the world. And the demand is clear, the company has already worked with major OEMs such as Miele and Siena Garden, among others. To learn more about how the platform works, we caught up with Henrike Wonneberger, one of the founders and COO of Replique.
3DN: Can you introduce yourself and Replique?
Sure. My name is Henrike Wonneberger and I am one of the founders and COO of Replique, the end-to-end 3D printing platform that offers OEMs a safe and efficient way to supply parts to anytime and anywhere. My academic and professional background is in chemistry and business administration, and I previously held various positions at BASF, ranging from R&D to business creation to digital business model innovation. In fact, my connection and fascination with 3D printing came from the idea of being able to move spare parts from a physical inventory to a digital inventory and being able to redesign the supply chain for these parts. 3D printing with the freedom to build all kinds of geometries in different materials just from data is very powerful!
Replique was founded while I was working in the digitization department of BASF. We saw the need for a new solution in the aftermarket industry that solves typical problems such as long lead times, high minimum order quantities and supply chain disruptions. Our idea was to digitize and produce spare parts on demand so that they are available anytime and anywhere. To realize this vision, Replique began its journey with Chemovator GmbH, BASF’s in-house business builder, in early 2020. Replique helps OEMs move parts from physical to digital inventory and thus build a flexible and robust supply chain for these parts. As an end-to-end solution, we support our customers throughout the value chain, including design, technology and material selection, digital warehousing, and secure decentralized manufacturing.
3DN: Replica provides what you consider to be the first fully encrypted 3D printed platform. Could you explain to us how it works?
From our interviews with OEMs and customers, we know that data security and quality assurance are two main areas for anyone who wants to produce with external partners. This is why encryption of all data on our platform is a key feature of our business model. For us, the process begins with the qualification of 3D printable parts, as this is the first requirement for high quality prints. This includes the selection of materials and technology, as well as the determination of production parameters according to the requirements of the part. We then store qualified part designs with secure production parameters in our digital inventory.
This is where our encryption comes in: once a part is ordered by a customer, the locked production information, including the requested order amount, is sent to the correct print farm partner in our global network. This way, parts are only printed in the required quantity and quality. As part of our quality assurance, we further include an automated quality documentation process, where final production information, including a certificate of analysis, is linked to the produced part and stored in the Replique platform.
3DN: How important is having this type of end-to-end solution in industrial 3D printing?
To ensure the high quality of 3D printed parts, companies working with service bureaus need to know the best partners at each manufacturing site and for each material-technology combination. If you think about all the different 3D printing options, it becomes obvious that it becomes an almost impossible task. Just think of this equation: The number of different AM options = The number of printer manufacturers x technologies x materials x locations. The options seem endless.
As a platform, we know more about different materials, printers, partners, and use cases than one can. We know who the best suppliers and specialists are and can provide our customers with quick access to all common additive manufacturing technologies and materials through our global network. Our qualification services ensure that designs are converted into high quality printed parts. Here we benefit from our experience at BASF in the manufacture and supply of OEM in various companies. Additionally, we have just launched our network of trusted materials partners to further accelerate industrial 3D printing with bespoke, best-in-class materials solutions. Our digital inventory can be seen as the interface between production partners and customers. Especially when connected to business processes such as ERP and online shops, it enables a more convenient ordering process.
3DN: You focus mainly on the creation of spare parts, why? How is 3D printing useful for creating spare parts?
Every spare parts manager knows the challenge. With each new product line, the amount of different spare parts increases over the years, especially in sectors where the machines have been in use for more than 15 years, for example machinery, transport, agriculture and construction . Ensuring the availability of spare parts becomes complex. Stocking all the parts leads to huge inventory costs, as well as the risk of obsolescence. However, if a part is not available, it leads to high procurement costs due to factors such as high minimum order quantities and expedited shipments. For critical spare parts, it’s even worse: delays can be enormous.
Decentralized 3D printing combined with digital inventory can solve these problems. Spare parts are available at all times and can be produced on demand, wherever they are needed. This reduces costs, while increasing customer satisfaction – a win-win for OEMs and end customers.
3DN: Are there other applications that you are targeting? Which?
It’s not just existing parts that can be produced with 3D printing, the technologies are also enabling more innovation in the industry. At the moment, there is growing interest in the industrial production of new parts by 3D printing, for example for the launch of new accessories. In traditional manufacturing, the production of small series is associated with high costs and risks, for example due to the need for expensive tools and moulds. Using 3D printing, we enable OEMs to cost-effectively produce parts from a single batch of a single part, with near-zero fixed costs, as no tooling or minimum order quantity is required. required.
One of our clients, the German appliance manufacturer Miele, is a good example in the consumer goods sector. The company uses our platform to deliver new accessories quickly and affordably to customers. The full integration of our platform into their online store made the move to distributed manufacturing possible.
3DN: A last word for our readers?
Don’t be overwhelmed by the number of different service bureaus and technology-material combinations in the 3D printing market. Start small, then scale quickly. Do you have a game where you think 3D printing could be a solution? Come to us and we can help turn your idea into reality. Once you have taken the first step, you have an idea of the technology and many other parts can follow. Your journey to a fully digitized supply chain using 3D printing has begun. You can find out more in the video below or on our website HERE.
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*All photo credits: replica