3D printing craftNews

Replique creates custom wheelchairs, printed on demand using HP MultiJet Fusion technology

The German manufacturing company Replique used HP Multi Jet Fusion technology to change the way wheelchairs are designed and manufactured, making production more efficient, profitable and fully personalized to the user. Replique has established cooperation in this area with RehaMedPower – a German supplier of medical products specializing in wheelchairs.

When RehaMedPower was preparing to develop and market its new RP1 electric wheelchair, it had difficulty finding a cost-effective solution for parts production. Traditional production methods require high initial investment costs and the production of expensive injection molds. A larger number of prototypes is also needed and, as a result, the time needed to introduce the product to the market increases dramatically.

Using HP Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) technology, Replique partnered with RehaMedPower to explore the possibilities of additive manufacturing for wheelchair design – from prototype to series production. Companies have identified a large number of parts that can be produced from PA12 (polyamide 12) using 3D printing, taking advantage of the technology’s greater flexibility in early production stages and cost convenience compared to traditional production methods. Between 19 and 23 individual parts are printed for each wheelchair, depending on the specific customer or patient purchase.

In addition to the significant savings from bypassing injection mold manufacturing, costs were further reduced by digitally storing design files through Replique’s digital warehousing platform, enabling a faster go-to-market strategy and keeping RehaMedPower’s working capital low. To date, RehaMedPower has seen a 30% reduction in product development time and a 60% reduction in prototyping costs compared to injection molding, but the real winners are the customers and patients it serves around the world who benefit from more personalized care.

No disability is the same, but until now there have been few personalization options available for people in wheelchairs. 3D printing technology is paving the way to make this possible, allowing wheelchairs to be more flexible in design and adapt to individual patient requirements. With the RP1 wheelchair from RehaMedPower, patients were in the driver’s seat, able to customize and personalize various parts to suit their needs and lifestyle, as well as choose from a wide range of colors.

The successful launch of the RP1 wheelchair last year saw its widespread adoption across Europe and even New Zealand. In the future, RehaMedPower plans to build on this momentum by introducing more 3D-printed parts for the RP1 wheelchair and developing new products that will further enhance its innovative line of accessibility solutions. Rapid availability of spare parts will soon also be offered at the in-use stage through Replique’s global production network, enabling on-demand production of spare parts for patients and customers whenever and wherever they need them.

Source: Replique press materials
Photos: Replique press materials (all rights reserved)

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