How Deutsche Bahn is utilizing 3D printing within the rail business


Stefanie Brickwede, Head of Additive Manufacturing at Deutsche Bahn and Managing Director of Mobility goes Additive (MGA) talks to Laura Griffiths about 3D printing within the rail business, why sustainability must be taken significantly and the way the pandemic pressured corporations to innovate.

TCT: Final time we caught up you have been on a MakerBot roundtable speaking about the usage of 3D printing throughout the pandemic. Deutsche Bahn had already been utilizing AM for a very long time, however are you able to give us your tackle how AM adoption was ramped up throughout that point?

SB: It isn’t simply the pandemic. We’ve to deal with such interruptions of provide chains almost each month. And what actually helped throughout the pandemic, these corporations are extra minded to think about other ways of manufacturing. Many corporations say they’re much extra open to additive manufacturing than earlier than. That’s one of many causes. Others are that they have been below financial strain, they’ve to maneuver. The necessity to consider innovation is far greater than two years in the past.

TCT: Throughout that panel, the query was requested of whether or not this open mindset was actually going to stay with us post-pandemic. And as you have simply mentioned, it is not nearly a pandemic. What are your ideas now?

SB: So many corporations have found that they’ll use the expertise for components, spare components, no matter you possibly can consider. You possibly can see numerous it in tooling. For tooling, you do not want any certification so these are the low hanging fruits. Within the railway sector, additionally far past within the automotive sector, they’ve used AM for a really very long time for prototyping and now increasingly more for tooling. They’ve printers on their premises, of their upkeep workshops or manufacturing halls, and the logic simply to have an concept, produce it in a single day and use it the subsequent day is absolutely nice. That is one thing we are actually experiencing additionally inside Deutsche Bahn and different railway corporations. Inside the community, now we have eight European railway corporations. The others are pondering and contemplating precisely the identical.

What it’s also possible to expertise is that you’ve got numerous youthful and even older individuals who have a printer at dwelling and convey the thought to the job. When you ask folks ‘who’s inquisitive about becoming a member of in a 3D printing venture or division?’, you’ll all the time discover people who find themselves actually ready for somebody to ask them.

TCT: You talked about it is not simply Deutsche Bahn, there are many different rail corporations utilizing AM. As extra corporations turned to AM all through the pandemic, did you already really feel forward of the curve?

SB: Within the railway sector, Deutsche Bahn and French SNCF, they’re main by far. However the others are very open to that. We’ve a working group, which is known as RAILiability, they’re engaged on rail and legal responsibility and the alternate in that working group is so open.

What it’s also possible to see is that, everyone knows that the automotive sector is absolutely coping with large change administration tasks, they must give attention to e-mobility in order that they actually have to alter the thoughts of the folks. The suppliers additionally undergo from that disaster in automotive and it is actually astonishing that not just one, however fairly just a few already thought of producing AM components for the medical sector. Three years in the past, nobody would have ever had the thought as an automotive provider to supply components for medical, that might have been too far. Now you possibly can actually expertise that as a result of they’ve to alter, they must be open minded, they must give attention to different markets. Medical undoubtedly is a superb marketplace for AM and for us, it is nice as a result of inside the [MGA] community, we already cowl each mobility and medical. Once we began with medical three years in the past, I used to be requested by my board, ‘why will we do medical? We come from the railway.’ I mentioned, okay, let’s give it a attempt to if it would not work inside the subsequent two years, then we’ll cease it once more. After the pandemic, nobody would ever ask such a query once more.

TCT: For rail purposes, are we speaking primarily about polymers or metals?

SB: Metals as effectively. What you possibly can see is that two thirds within the railway sector is polymers and about one third is metals. So, if it involves tooling instances or smaller components inside the inside of trains, we are sometimes speaking about polymer components. There now we have to satisfy excessive ranges regarding flame retardancy, that are even greater than aerospace. If you wish to print components to stop the standstill of trains, we are sometimes speaking about metals. The metals are, in fact, way more costly and certification is extra essential. What I discover actually fascinating is that we are actually engaged on the primary use instances of concrete for the stations, for example. I’m completely certain that there is large potential however you possibly can examine it to printing spare components 5 years in the past, the printing of concrete is kind of new. They must work on the certification but in addition on supplies and [finding] the appropriate use instances.

We’re additionally now engaged on elastomer printing and I am not speaking about prototyping elastomers. TPUs for prototyping existed for fairly a very long time however now we’re speaking about spare components and people spare components must go on the trains for a minimum of 5 to 6 years, being involved with oil and grime and no matter you possibly can take into account.

TCT: Are you able to give us a way of what Deutsche Bahn’s in-house AM capability appears to be like like?

SB: We’ve an ideal group and we do not have that many printers as a result of we nonetheless rely, I might say to 85%, a minimum of, on printing service bureaus. We do not wish to give attention to the shopping for, if machines are appropriate or not as a result of we wish to focus extra on the options to be used instances. And we’re not a producing firm. We’re only a maintainer. For us, it is extra necessary to cowl a really broad number of totally different supplies, applied sciences and use instances, and to know precisely what’s the matching expertise for the use case and likewise to be very open to new applied sciences. […] We wish to give attention to not simply on coping with one or two or three machines. We now have now greater than 60 desktop printers inside the firm. These are primarily for coaching, tooling and giving folks the chance to materialise their concepts.

TCT: Does that contain numerous redesign or is it higher to repurpose present designs for AM?

SB: In sustaining sectors usually, you’ll all the time keep on with the complete match perform of the earlier half. So you wouldn’t re-design or do bionic design. That’s one thing corporations can do who’re actually establishing after which in fact you get the complete potential, but when it’s a must to keep on with certification processes, you wouldn’t change that a lot as a result of, in fact, we’re nonetheless in a part that many authorities must find out about AM. First they must belief the expertise and that is a lot simpler to show for those who keep on with the previous designs. From month to month, it is getting extra open.

TCT: One of many mission factors for Mobility Goes Additive is ecological sustainability. Are you able to contact on how AM contributes to that?

SB: A lot of the corporations within the AM sector are both fairly new start- ups or small, midsize corporations. So often, now we have to offer them a get up name to focus extra on ecological sustainability and never simply greenwashing. We’ve to focus extra on the ecological sustainability of supplies, the entire manufacturing provide chain, how we are able to enhance that, and it is not ample simply to say that we do not want as a lot materials as different applied sciences, we even have to speak about vitality consumption, now we have to speak about how that materials is produced. And now we have to speak about nice use instances.

That is why we began a examine inside MGA in cooperation with AMPOWER to have a logic the place you possibly can herald, that is steel centered, some information regarding your half, materials expertise and so forth and so they offers you some indication of how sustainable that’s. In fact, this isn’t on an individualised lifecycle evaluation foundation, however […] that is what we actually must work on. In any other case, the expertise will lose its distinctive promoting proposition.

All of us must focus extra on digital warehouses. […] We did an evaluation inside Deutsche Bahn and after six years, it’s a must to throw away all of the elastomeric components you’ve got on inventory, whether or not you employ them or not. […] That is a superb case for AM.

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