Quickly emerging as one of the industrial 3D printing pioneers in all of Europe, the Munich-based company German RepRap GmbH has been spending the better part of this year branching out across the world. They’ve most recently claimed a stake in Australia’s market with a recent distribution partnership with Thinglab, and prior to that, they saw to it that their 3D printing technology would help enhance the capabilities of a South African workshop, while continuing their campaign to conquer other regions in Europe.
Though the industrial 3D printing company has spread its wings, its main hub of innovation is right at home in Germany. Most recently, the German RepRap X400 has been utilized by the lifting platform rental company SCHMID Hebebühnenverleih, which is located right outside of Munich in the town of Haimhausen. The specialist company has used their professional-grade 3D printing technology to produce spare parts for their lifting platforms, and also modify these platforms for the unique demands of their clients. The German RepRap X400 has certainly been a breadwinner for the company, used by the major aerospace leader Airbus and other local German companies like the fan manufacturer Hürner-Funken.
SCHMID is a rental business that is required to have a wide range of equipment, from trailer-mounted lifts to telescopic boom lifts. With the integration of the X400, they’ve been able to adapt their equipment to meet the needs of their customers. For instance, in order to keep the equipment from performing complicated and unnecessary functions, SCHMID used the German RepRap 3D printer to produce special covers to block these functions, only displaying the important operating elements. According to CEO Mario Schmid, these 3D printed covers have helped alleviate some glaring customer-related issues.
“The control consoles are often unnecessarily complicated and provide access to functions that the normal customer never requires. If users nevertheless press one of these buttons, the vehicle often breaks down and the customer has to phone us to obtain help. This previously made up sometimes 10 percent of our daily calls,” Schmid said. “Customers are then also dissatisfied because they cannot continue working until the problem is fixed. With a particular machine type in the fleet, 90 percent of the hotline calls were caused by these kinds of operating errors.”
In addition, the lifting platform rental company has also utilized the X400 to produce spare parts for their equipment. The rental company’s operating equipment goes under tough operating conditions on a daily basis, which leads to damage to the plastic covers on the lifting platforms. Since a majority of their equipment is manufactured by companies without small-scale manufacturing capabilities, these spare covers are generally expensive and have lengthy delivery times. With the X400, however, SCHMID is able to 3D print the plastic covers in a more timely and cost-efficient manner. They ultimately decided on the German RepRap 3D printing system due to its large build envelope and flexibility with materials.
“The frame construction and the finishing of the RepRap printers gave the best impression of all the products available on the market. We were also interested in a large build envelope in order to be able to also manufacture large objects,” said Schmid. “We were also very pleased with the flexibility in relation to material selection. The demonstration of a printer and the process from the concept to the finished project ultimately impressed us with its efficiency and versatility.”
SCHMID has been operating the X400 since this past July, and the German RepRap 3D printer is already having a major impact on the rental company’s daily operations. According to their CEO, the idea to purchase a 3D printer came after he bought himself a desktop 3D printer for private use, which eventually led him to integrate the X400 into their business model. All the while, the case study shows why German RepRap is increasingly considered one of the most versatile and high quality industrial 3D printing manufacturers in the industry. Discuss in the German RepRap forum at 3DPB.com.