3D Printing: A Rail Industry Solution for Train Spare Parts

How Do You Keep Trains Running?

To keep trains running, the old model is through expensive physical inventory or slow and expensive traditional manufacturing. The old model is now replaced by digital inventory and on-demand 3D printing. The biggest names in European passenger rail are doing this now.

The service life of trains typically ranges between 35-45 years. Hence, train operators deal with several challenges when it comes to vehicle maintenance and replacement for older train parts, which can be difficult to source. Using 3D printing, train operators can acquire the parts within a short time frame, regardless of the uniqueness of the part or the age of the train car. This minimizes the time and cost attributed to trains that would usually be kept out of service until a spare part can be sourced. The maintenance of the trains and the quality of service for passengers are consequently improved.

Leading 3D printer OEM Stratasys has created a “Rail Industry Solution” package designed to help the maintenance of passenger trains using 3D printing. Included in the solution are materials that have passed the European Union‘s Rail Standard, EN 45545-2, alongside a Stratasys Fortus 3D printer. This will help railway firms to 3D print spare parts on-demand that meet certification requirements for smoke, fire, and toxicity. Bombardier Transportation, Stratasys’ new client, uses the solution to accelerate the development process of its trains. Bombardier joins Angel Trains, Chiltern Railways, DB ESG and Siemens Mobility in utilizing the solution to 3D print customized spare interior and exterior train parts.

Stratasys has made a significant effort to help the railway industry improve the maintenance of its trains using 3D printing. Its Rail Industry Solution is meant to help its technology meet the requirements for passenger trains and light rail. In turn, it will help provide a better position for the railway industry to leverage additive manufacturing for the production of spare parts.

Bombardier Transportation is using the F900 FDM 3D printer to accelerate part production for interior and exterior vehicle components, specifically for its trains in German-speaking countries. The 3D printer has been installed at Bombardier’s Berlin facility, allowing the company to produce customized spare parts on-demand via digital inventory at a lower cost. While accelerating production, total functionality, safety and repeatability are upheld. Bombardier is building a digital inventory for producing spare parts on-demand using the Stratasys F900 3D printer. It is able to save physical storage space by storing 3D scans of its parts, creating a ‘digital warehouse’, an initiative being employed elsewhere within the railway industry.