Siemens Mobility introduces 3D printing into rail service maintenance
The service centre relies on Stratasys Fortus 450mc Production Printer to create replacement parts on demand.
Siemens Mobility, a subsidiary of the larger company, is making a move into additive manufacturing by opening the RRX Rail Service Center, a maintenance depot that 3D prints replacement parts for over 100 trains a month.
Located in Dortmund-Eving, Germany, the service centre will lean on a Stratasys Fortus 450mc Production 3D printer to produce tools and replacements parts, largely negating the need to keep a physical inventory of replacement parts. Siemens believes this strategy will reduce the manufacturing time of these parts by 95%.
“We believe our RRX Rail Service Center is the most advanced train maintenance centre in the world,” said Michael Kuczmik, Head of Additive Manufacturing, Siemens Mobility GmbH, Customer Service. “Bringing together a range of innovative digital technologies, we can significantly increase the efficiency of our customer’s rail operations. Stratasys FDM additive manufacturing plays an integral role, enabling us to optimize spare parts for longer life cycles, at reduced cost and in shorter time frames than ever before.”
In terms of some specs, the Fortus 450mc has a build size of 406 x 355 x 406 mm (16 x 14 x 16 in) and parts are produced with an accuracy of within ± .127 mm (± .005 in.).
Prior to using additive manufacturing methods, Siemens relied on traditional casting methods, which took an average of six weeks to produce a finished part — this was a financial eyesore for producing one of product batches, leading to Siemens to produce large numbers at once whether or not they needed them.
Now though, using high strength ULTEM 9085 thermoplastic resin, Siemens Mobility is producing a connector tool that is used to maintain train bogies, which are the chassis or framework that carry the wheel set. Being complex and highly customizable, these connector tools are difficult to produce using conventional methods. The tensile strength of the ULTEM 9085 is rated at 47 MPa on the XZ Axis and 33 MPa for the ZX Axis.
Additionally, the chassis or bogie framework are extremely heavy, requiring durable materials are to withstand the forces of the vehicles moving or braking. Each tool printed and customized to a specific bogie now only takes hours to produce instead of weeks prior to the introduction of the Fortus 450mc.