Deutsche Bahn to Bring 3D Printing to Europe’s Rails
Michael Molitch-Hou posted on May 17, 2016 | 4301 views

Industrial 3D printing news is inundated with stories about aerospace manufacturers implementing the technology in their supply chain, partially because the industry has led the way in producing end parts for critical applications. Those that are less interested in flying from New York to Paris and more interested in getting from the office home may be happy to know that 3D printing is making its way into public transportation. With a new program called “Mobility goes Additive,” German railway company Deutsche Bahn will be taking a technology that’s proven itself in the skies and applying it to the rails.

Deutsche Bahn has partnered with a number of companies to launch the Mobility goes Additive initiative. (Image courtesy of Mobility goes Additive.)
Deutsche Bahn has partnered with a number of companies to launch the Mobility goes Additive initiative. (Image courtesy of Mobility goes Additive.)
Deutsche Bahn has partnered with a number of leaders in the 3D printing and transportation industries to take advantage of 3D printing in various European railway systems. The project will tackle this endeavor from three angles: prototyping components to speed up time to market, 3D printing end parts to improve the railway system overall and producing rapid tooling to reduce tooling costs and wait times. Begun in 2015, the project is still in its early stages, but the network has already been formed and consists of the following companies:

Getting this new technology into such an infrastructure-dependent industry, however, is not a straightforward task. To catalyze the adoption of 3D printing within the railway system, the partners are planning to host workshops for connecting relevant parties, establish training programs around 3D printing for the rail, developing events and marketing initiatives and, most importantly in any modern society, lobbying the government for standards, authorization, initiatives and to create demand.

In other words, before the technological innovation can begin to hit the rails, a good deal of bureaucratic work needs to be accomplished. When 3D printing does find its way into Deutsche Bahn trains, it could mean big things for both rail transportation and additive manufacturing. According to the company, their trains carry about 2 billion passengers and 415 million tons of freight every year. If 3D printing can enhance even a portion of Deutsche Bahn’s more than 40,000 trains it will be possible to say that the technology has had an impact on the daily lives of travelers in Europe. Just what that impact is, however, remains to be seen as Mobility goes Additive will present its progress so far at this fall’s InnoTrans event in Berlin from September 20-23.

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