Siemens Mobility further invests in Stratasys 3D printers for 30 year rail maintenance project

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.

RZD high-speed Sapsan train fleet. Photo via Stratasys.

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.

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3D printing keeps trains running

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.

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Amey assess robot 3D printers for in-situ repair of UK rail network

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.

Amey's robotic 3D printing rail refurbishment concepts. Image via ABB

“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.”

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The UK´s first 3D printed parts trialled on passenger trains

With the ability to quickly produce replacement parts on-demand, 3D printing helps operators to better maintain trains and improve the quality of service for passengers. Angel Trains, one of Britain’s leading train leasing companies, 3D printing leader Stratasys, engineering consultancy DB ESG and train operator Chiltern Railways have joined forces to trial the first 3D printed parts ever deployed within an in-service passenger train in the UK. For more information see the IDTechEx report on 3D Printing Composites 2020-2030: Technology and Market Analysis

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.

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Deutsche Bahn leverages Gefertec 3DMP technology to 3D print spare railway parts

German railway company Deutsche Bahn is integrating metal additive manufacturing 3DMP technology from GEFERTEC to improve the availability of hard-to-procure spare parts.

Inside a 3DMP 3D printer. Photo via GEFERTEC

The 3DMP process was implemented for the first time as part of this pilot project.  According to Dr. Tina Schlingmann, a Senior Consultant of complete railway systems technology at Deutsche Bahn, availability is a big issue for the company. 3DPM is being used to service vehicles for older locomotives, including now obsolete parts.

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Digital rail maintenance center demonstrates the increasing influence of 3D printing on modern-day manufacturing

According to press reports, Siemens Mobility GmbH opened a digital rail maintenance center in Germany that will utilize three-dimensional (3D) printing, also referred to as “additive manufacturing.” The rail center will service approximately 100 trains every month. According to Michael Kuczmik, Siemens Mobility’s head of Additive Manufacturing, the use of 3D printing will “rapidly and cost-effectively produce one-off, customized production parts.”

According to sources, the shift to 3D printing at the digital rail maintenance center eliminates “the need for inventory of selected spare parts” and “reduce{s} the manufacturing time of these parts by up to 95%.” Historically, replacement parts were procured through traditional manufacturing methods such as casting, with lead times of up to six weeks. Such procurement methods also typically required high volume orders to be cost effective, which led to unnecessarily higher inventory levels. By using the digital rail maintenance center’s technology, the same parts may now be 3D printed in 13 hours, reducing the need to maintain a significant inventory.

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Changing Track: How GE and Wabtec’s transaction will impact 3D printing and railways

What happens when two financial juggernauts in the same industry combine? It seems we are about to find out. Just a few weeks ago, it was confirmed that Wabtec Corporation is entering a definitive agreement to merge with GE Transportation, a branch of General Electric Company. This major transaction will not only boost Wabtec into a Fortune 500, global transportation leader in rail equipment, software, and services, but it will significantly influence the direction of 3D printing with regard to the railway industry as well.

3D printing has cemented itself as a core component in the evolution of railway manufacturing and equipment over the last several years, with several agencies and companies investing research and development resources into exploring further applications for the technology. The Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has integrated 3D printing technology as a cost-effective method of creating and developing parts for the train system, including the ticket gates, ticket vending machines, and even the railways themselves as well as other assets across the metro network. In 2013, rail freight operator Union Pacific (UP) began experimenting with 3D printing to create handheld automatic equipment identification (AEI) devices to ensure that rolling stock is properly tracked and assembled. UP has also implemented 3D printing processes to greatly accelerate their production cycles, with parts now able to be 3D printed within mere hours.

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