Photo Copyright: Deutsche Bahn AG / Dominic Dupont & Susanne Tost
What if you’re looking for a network but can’t find one yourself? This is what happened to the Deutsche Bahn in 2016 and thus together with 8 other companies, MGA was founded.
Since then, we have grown to over 150 members and are happy to announce a ground-breaking milestone of a member: DB has reached the mark of 100,000 3D printed spare parts! This achievement marks a significant step in the transformation of maintenance in the rail industry, which Deutsche Bahn is shaping together with NS (Netherlands), SNCF (France), ÖBB (Austria), Trenitalia (Italy), SBB (Switzerland) and Angel Trains (UK) in our RAILiability Working Group.
According to a recent DB press release, the 100,000th 3D-printed part is a gearbox housing for shunting locomotives: With impressive dimensions of almost one cubic metre in volume and a weight of 570 kilograms, it is the largest and heaviest 3D-printed part that the company has ever produced using Additive Manufacturing. The final component was created in close cooperation with voestalpine – and also reflects the great benefits of a network like MGA.
Conventional procurement of the spare part has long delivery times of ten months on average – thanks to the sand mould created using binder jetting, the manufacturing process could be accelerated enormously, so that the component can now be made available within two months. Another advantage of indirect 3D printing with rapid casting: with this procedure, the component remains in its original manufacturing mode, as only the mould for the cast component is printed – this often makes extensive approval processes obsolete and is easy on the wallet.
The gearbox housing of the 29x series is part of DB’s digital warehouse, which is being continuously expanded – another topic that plays a major role in our network. This approach not only saves storage space and costs, but also shortens delivery times and creates independence from supply chains that can be affected by global crises or raw material shortages. It also contributes to sustainability, which is why the full-size gearbox housing can also be admired at the DB booth at the GreenTech Festival in Berlin in June.
The Deutsche Bahn has established itself as a global pioneer in 3D printing for the rail industry. What started in 2015 with simple plastic parts (perhaps one or the other member remembers the famous coat hooks) has now developed into over 100,000 parts for more than 500 different applications. DB is working with our network of users, suppliers, printer vendors, material manufacturers, software providers, consultancies, universities, institutes and more to drive innovation in 3D printing together.
This Deutsche Bahn success story is an impressive example of how innovative technologies can revolutionise industry and increase efficiency. It shows that not every part has to be printed directly – rapid casting offers diverse possibilities to produce even large parts with AM. We are proud that one of our founding members is driving these ground-breaking advances and look forward to a continued successful collaboration in the world of industrial Additive Manufacturing.