3D Printing Train Parts: A Concerted Railway Effort

Moving Towards Better Mobility

There’s a German-based network that’s incorporating 3D printing within the transport system. Mobility goes Additive (MGA) in Berlin is the leading international network of companies, institutions and research institutes that pushes 3D-printed applications for use in several sectors. It has gotten approval for use of an additively manufactured brake suspension link for trains.

The link is a highly-loaded part and works within the brake unit of a train and is now in use at Hamburger Hochbahn in Hamburg. The MGA Approval is the working group that got the authorization. It is headed by Siemens Mobility under the participation of its members Deutsche Bahn, and the Fraunhofer IAPT and IGCV facilities.

The development of the 3D printed brake suspension link started in 2017. When the concept was approved, the suitability of the component was successfully tested on real tracks and assessed by TÜV SÜD. The Hamburg Technical Supervisory Authority granted operational approval, leading to it being commissioned in August 2019. It was also approved by BOStrab, responsible for the German Federal Regulations on the construction and operation of light rail transit systems and will be the standard for all future approvals.

Deutsche Bahn is a German railway company and also part of MGA. It’s collaborating with Berlin-based 3D printing software developer 3YOURMIND to build a ‘digital spare parts warehouse’. It has also integrated metal additive manufacturing 3DMP technology from GEFERTEC to improve the availability of hard-to-procure spare parts.

All together, the Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB), Italian train operator Trenitalia, Deutsche Bahn, and government-owned Swedish railways company SJ, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) by proxy of seven European railways. This is the beginning of a pledge to collaborate in the working group RAILiability under the Mobility goes Additive network. MGA acts as a central platform bundling the value creation potentials along the process chain and promoting the mutual development of its members’ competencies.