Energy company ČEZ (which is also the sole owner of Škoda JS) and nuclear energy company Škoda JS recently reported that, to address supply chain disruptions and enhance energy independence, they relied on AM for the production of 4159 plastic and metal parts. This disruption across the supply chain is the result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine which required defective parts to be replaced.
As you may guess, a standard production would have taken months for the parts to be ready whereas it is a matter of a couple of days with AM. In this specific case, the 3D printers used, would be able to produce metal parts weighing up to 600kg – probably DED technology? –. Škoda JS has 3D printers for the production of large metal parts at its plant in Pilsen, and also has the smaller printers at both Czech nuclear power plants.
According to František Krček, CEO of Škoda JS, AM has been used alongside 3D scanning which helped prepare the data before the printing process. However, “a shaft is always better and cheaper to produce using machine tools. For parts with a very complex shape, such as a gear wheel for a gearbox, it is better to use 3D technology”, Krček outlines.
According to the companies, “during the first year the deployment of parts from 3D production contributed to reducing downtime and increasing power plant production, without affecting the safe supply of electricity“.
That being said, ČEZ currently uses the printed parts mainly in the non-nuclear parts of power plants and now plans to expand the supply of 3D parts for the nuclear part.
According to our colleagues from world-energy, the Czech Republic already uses nuclear power for 34% of its electricity, generating this from four reactors at Dukovany and two at Temelín. ČEZ is currently evaluating bids from Westinghouse, EDF and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power for the construction of a new reactor at Dukovany. Near Temelín, an area has been designated the South Bohemia Nuclear Park and earmarked for small reactors to operate in the early 2030s.
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