The ALSTOM Italy challenge
ALSTOM Italy had a production bottleneck. It lacked a PEEK cotter pin to complete the production of a rotating electric train engine with a permanent magnet. The non-availability of a plastic raw material caused lengthier delivery lead times, disrupting the train delivery schedule of ALSTOM for its customer. The challenge was set: how to produce this missing part in time to avoid late delivery of the ALSTOM order and the resultant serious financial consequences?
The solution was then to quickly find an alternative material able to provide all the properties demanded by the operation and the environment of the part once incorporated into the engine. There were multiple constraints. Firstly, the part is positioned in an angled section and must be sufficiently robust to bear the shear stress. Secondly, it must also meet high standards in dimensional terms, requiring absolute control over the process in order to cater for the shrinkage phenomenon that occurs during crystallization in order to avoid any warping. Lastly, it must be able to bear working temperatures above 200°C.
Each problem has its solution
During the APS Meeting in Lyon in June 2021, the French teams of ALSTOM turned to KIMYA in their quest for a solution for their Italian plant. And they were right to do so, as proposing an alternative to their missing PEEK is right up KIMYA’s street, as an expert in the design of 3D materials. Only recently created in the KIMYA Lab, Kimya PEKK-SC based on KEPSTAN by Arkema appeared to be the ideal material. Whereas PEEK is a semi-crystalline material, Kimya PEKK-SC has both amorphous and crystalline phases. When raising temperature up to a sustained 200°C, a crystalline state is obtained that enhances the performance of the material. Its properties not only match those of PEEK but also offer supplementary benefits, such as resistance to a temperature of 260°C once crystallized and its enhanced resistance to compression, friction, and wear. Kimya PEKK-SC therefore fully meets the needs of ALSTOM.
Everything you need to know about Kimya PEKK-SC
A member of the polyaryletherketone (PAEK) family, it can be compared to certain metals despite weighing 40% less than steel. PEKK-SC crystallizes faster than PEKK-A. It also offers higher mechanical performance. It also meets the railway industry smoke/fire standard EN 45-545. Kimya PEKK-SC therefore stands out due to its heat resistance as this thermoplastic can bear temperatures rising to up to 260°C. Find out more about Kimya PEKK-SC
An iterative and responsive production processs
The challenge for KIMYA was to produce 100 parts for ALSTOM in 15 days, and then to triple this quantity shortly afterwards. Two 3D printers were then permanently assigned to the project to produce the parts in time, under the close attention of the KIMYA Factory experts conducting parallel testing and inspection. Kimya PEKK-SC is printed by KIMYA Factory on miniFactory Ultra 3D printers. Multiple iterations were required:
- lThe teams conducted empirical polyurethane resin injection trials in order to test the resistance of the cotter pin once installed on the engine;
- Traction testing was also carried out by KIMYA to measure the performance of the PEKK-SC printed pin.
Our customers say it better than us
“Our collaboration with KIMYA has been a genuinely productive success. We had a serious problem with the servicing of high-speed engines due to the lengthy delivery leadtimes for certain spare parts. This would have caused certain trains being taken out of service with a massive financial impact for our end customer. Thanks to additive manufacturing and the efforts of KIMYA to help us find the right material for the specific demands of our application, we were able to deliver the spare parts on time. The solution was to use PEKK-SC material, a technical polymer able to meet all our requirements in full. After a brief validation cycle, the parts were delivered in 2 months, representing a gain of almost 2 months compared to our usual supplier.», explains Lorenzo Gasparoni, Electrical Design Manager at ALSTOM
The Advantages of Kimya Factory offer
As soon as the project was submitted, KIMYA Factory personnel immediately conducted initial testing in order to be able to launch production of the 100 parts as soon as possible and to provide Alstom with an effective solution on time.
- Availability of materials and 3D printers
The immediate availability of PEKK-SC without procurement issues or delivery lead times constitutes security of supply and a significant time-saving. Furthermore, the availability of 3D machines to commence printing in very short order is also a major advantage. Turning to KIMYA Factory in such urgent situations is the right call.
- Speed of parts delivery within deadline
Producing a part to order, within the deadline, while meeting the quality requirements specified by ALSTOM: this is the hallmark of KIMYA.
The properties of Kimya PEKK-SC and the performance of KIMYA Factory personnel therefore enabled a major railways operator to incorporate this new material among its range of spare part components. Reliable and innovative, PEKK-SC enabled parts to be produced that meet the demands of the customer with unbeatable efficiency. KIMYA designs new materials fully in line with the demands of industrial operators in all sectors. Always striving to bring to market 3D filaments with ever higher levels of robustness and performance, our experts anticipate the needs of our customers in order to offer effective and innovative solutions.