Siemens Mobility recently launched their first digital rail maintenance center – the Siemens Mobility RRX Rail Service Center in Dortmund-Eving, Germany. Offering the highest level of digitalization in the rail industry, Siemens has eliminated the need to have a physical inventory for replacement spare parts or on-demand tooling, with the adoption of Stratasys F450mc Production 3D printer for their operations.
Around a hundred trains enter the depot monthly for servicing, and every train has to undergo maintenance several times a year. One would expect servicing or maintenance to be done as quickly as possible, while also expecting maximum safety and service quality at the same time. Unplanned or last-minute jobs in addition to servicing different train models and companies, means that customized solutions are often needed.
Previously, it would take as much as 6 weeks to produce a customized part using casting which was too lengthy, and also financially unviable as large volumes are often needed to make it cost-effective.
However, with the utilization of the F450mc, parts can be 3D printed in just 13 hours, and reduce manufacturing time by a staggering 95% compared to conventional manufacturing. Designs can also be iterated and optimized within a week, and speed up responses to customers.
Apart from replacement parts, Siemens is also leveraging on 3D printing for customized tooling applications. One such application is the essential ‘connector’ tool which is used to maintain train bogies (the chassis or framework that carries the wheelset).
Conventionally, it was notoriously hard to produce because they require extreme complexity and high levels of customization. But with the F450mc, Siemens is able to produce one-off customized tools for each bogie in a matter of hours, using industrial-grade ULTEM 9085 thermoplastic which is tough enough to meet demanding material characteristics.
By putting the Stratasys F450mc at the heart of their digital rail maintenance center, Siemens has gained the ability to rapidly and cost-effectively 3D print replacement parts and production tools on-demand with no minimum quantity.