Alstom, a France-based rolling stock manufacturer, has adopted FDM 3D printing technology from Stratasys to streamline spare part production for the transport sector.
One of the company’s most recent projects involved producing a set of emergency spare parts for Algeria’s Sétif Tramways, and additive manufacturing was the star of the show. Leveraging Stratasys F370 3D printers, Alstom was able to drastically slash lead times and save Sétif Tramways thousands in manufacturing costs, reducing downtime in the city’s 14-mile transport network.
“The agility that 3D printing gives us is critical for Alstom strategically as a business,” states Aurélien Fussel, Additive Manufacturing Programme Manager at Alstom. “Where our customers depend on spare parts to maintain operations, having this in-house production capability means we can bypass our traditional supply chain and respond quickly and cost-effectively with a solution to their needs.”
Having previously utilized Stratasys’ 3D printing systems to fabricate spare parts for the German and UK rail industries, Siemens Mobility Services has increased its investment in Stratasys’ 3D printing technology to expand its rail maintenance operation in Russia.
Two new industrial-grade Stratasys Fortus 450mc 3D printers will be used for spare part production to support the 13 additional high-speed Velaro trains Siemens Mobility will be building for Russian train company RZD.
The 30 year maintenance project
The 13 new trains will be added to an existing fleet of 16, with a 30 year agreement to maintain and service the trains also in the deal. This third Velaro order from RZD will bring the total number of high-speed trains to 29.
Having successfully implemented Stratasys‘ 3D printing to produce parts for the German and UK rail industries, Siemens Mobility Services has continued its investment in Stratasys technology to support the expansion of its rail maintenance operations in Russia. This includes two new industrial-grade Stratasys Fortus 450mc 3D Printers for part production.
The decision comes in line with a recent business win for Siemens Mobility to build 13 additional high-speed Velaro trains for Russian train company, RZD, including an agreement to maintain and service the trains for the next 30 years. This is already the third Velaro order from RZD for Sapsan fleet due to excellent availability of Sapsan trains in daily operation, supplementing an existing fleet of 16 trains. For further information see the IDTechEx report on 3D Printing Materials 2019-2029: Technology and Market Analysis.
Stratasys announced its Rail Industry Solution to help passenger trains – from long-haul to urban metros – run on time more frequently and potentially save thousands of euros a day. By using its ULTEM 9085 resin and Antero 800NA material with Stratasys Fortus 3D printers for production, rail operators will be best positioned to leverage additive manufacturing for the production of spare parts on demand that meet strict government certification requirements for smoke, fire, and toxicity. Both materials have passed the European Union’s Rail Standard, EN45545-2. Customers and partners benefiting from the Rail Industry Solution currently includes Angel Trains, Bombardier Transportation, Chiltern Railways, DB ESG, and Siemens Mobility. For more information see the IDTechEx report on 3D Printing Materials 2019-2029: Technology and Market Analysis.
Stratasys’ additive manufacturing consultancy, Blueprint, has estimated that for one major U.S. commuter rail service, every day a train set is out of service costs €18,000, and often a single part that would ordinarily cost less than €100 is all that keeps the train from running. Compounding the challenge, the service life of trains is typically 35-45 years making sourcing spare parts a challenge. By turning to additive manufacturing, train operators can get the parts they need within a day or two regardless of the uniqueness of the part or the age of the train car, minimizing time spent in a maintenance yard and dramatically reducing costs.
Amey, a UK-based infrastructural support service provider, has revealed internal plans for applying 3D printing to train-track renewal. With concept drawings provided by Swiss robotic arm manufacturer ABB, the company demonstrates the construction of an independent repair carriage, capable of moving along railway lines and removing and replacing faults. Though still in its early stages, the company estimates that over 60% of UK railway lines could be refurbished using such a system, returning material economy and efficiency savings equating to over £40 million a year.
“At Amey, we’re exploring the use of 3D printing in the rail sector, beginning with track renewals,” Simon Grundy, Innovation Manager, Consulting & Rail at Amey, writes.
“3D PRINTING WILL FUNDAMENTALLY CHANGE HOW WE CONDUCT TRACK RENEWALS.”
Angel Trains, Stratasys, DB ESG and Chiltern Railways joined forces to trial the first 3D printed parts ever deployed within an in-service passenger train in the UK.
These parts include four passenger armrests and seven grab handles, which have been installed on Chiltern Railways trains. The trial’s success to date demonstrates how 3D printing can help train operators accelerate the replacement of obsolete parts, enabling them to get vehicles back into service quicker and better maintain their trains – improving the quality of service for passengers.
The cross-industry collaboration between Angel Trains, DB ESG and Stratasys aims to leverage 3D printing to help overcome issues around the replacement of obsolete parts across the UK rail industry. Unlike the automotive industry, where vehicles from household brands are mass produced in their millions each year, the number of fleets in the rail industry are comparatively very small and, in some cases, over 30 years old. This combination presents several challenges for train operators, especially when it comes to vehicle maintenance and part replacement.
“The ability to 3D print customised tools and spare parts whenever we need them, with no minimum quantity, has transformed our supply chain.”
Siemens Mobility GmbH, part of Siemens AG, has opened its first digital rail maintenance centre, eliminating the need for inventory of selected spare parts.
The Siemens Mobility RRX Rail Service Center located in Dortmund-Eving, Germany, houses a Stratasys Fortus 450mc Production 3D printer which is being used produce replacement parts and tooling on-demand. Siemens Mobility has reduced the manufacturing time of select parts by up to 95%.
The RRX Rail Service Center is expecting around a hundred trains to enter the depot every month. Michael Kuczmik, Head of Additive Manufacturing, Siemens Mobility GmbH, Customer Service says 3D printing will play an integral role in optimising “spare parts for longer life cycles, at reduced cost and in shorter timeframes than ever before.”