Dutch Railways starts using 3D printed spare parts for trains
Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS, Dutch Railways) is taking advantage of 3D printing and will replace some broken train parts with 3D printed replacement parts. In fact, 20 3D printed spare parts are currently available and NS plans to produce more than 50 by the end of the year.
The first train installed with 3D-printed parts is already operating on the Dutch network. Traditional manufacturing requires bulk orders. With 3D printing, Dutch Railways can instead make a single part to order, saving time and money. Additive manufacturing also cuts in maintenance operation times, which helps to avoid a shortage of trains in service.
The Dutch Railways does not print the parts itself, but outsourced it to Utrecht based Dimanex, a digital supply chain service provider which offers an end-to-end service for distributed 3D manufacturing. The parts are made of plastic and metal. Components such as a plug for the public address system and the radio frame for the operator’s steering table can already be 3D printed. “We work with suppliers to find the best solutions,” says NS spokesperson Anita Middelkoop. “After all, they are also looking for innovations to be able to do their work better.”
In addition to simply creating replacement parts, Middelkoop said that additive manufacturing allows the company to make tools. “We work together with organizations that have 3D printers,” said Middelkoop. “You can imagine that if we have a printer somewhere, we have to wait until the part is finished before we can print the next one. By working together with these organizations, we always have sufficient capacity.” read more