Major European railways sign MoU to identify applications for additive manufacturing

At the 3rd Additive Manufacturing Forum in Berlin, German railway company Deutsche Bahn (DB), the Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB), Italian train operator Trenitalia and government-owned Swedish railways company SJ signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) by proxy of seven European railways.

The MoU, signed on 15th March 2019, signals a pledge by the railway companies to collaborate in the working group RAILiability under the Mobility goes Additive network.

The RAILiability working group was formed with the aim of identifying clear technology use cases for additive manufacturing.

Different types of Deutsche Bahn train. Photo via Deutsche Bahn
Different types of Deutsche Bahn train. Photo via Deutsche Bahn.

Mobility goes additive – what is it?

The four railway institutions are each members of the Mobility goes Additive network. This network of companies from the mobility and logistics business have formed together in order to advance the application of additive manufacturing, with a particular focus on the production of spare parts for the transportation sector.

The Mobility goes Additive network will act as a central platform to promote the “mutual development of its members’ competencies”. Thus, as well as having railway institutions within its network, leading additive manufacturing enterprises such as like EOS and Stratasys are also part of Mobility goes Additive to work with companies seeking to implement additive manufacturing.

DB, ÖBB, Trenitalia and SJ, and three other European railways, form the RAILiability working group of Mobility goes Additive, which focuses specifically on rail networks and rolling stock. The aim of the group is “the identification of technological applications, which show the AM market concrete fields of action and potentials.”

Deutsche Bahn and 3D printing

The Mobility goes Additive platform has previously connected Deutsche Bahn with Berlin-based 3D printing software developer 3YOURMIND, also a member of the network. DB has used 3YOURMINDS’s technology in order to reduce the costs of maintaining inventory by using 3D printing to produce on demand replacements.

The companies collaborated to build a ‘digital spare parts warehouse’, using 3YOURMIND’s Additive Manufacturing Part Identifier (AMPI). DB employees are encouraged to submit their 3D printing ideas and suggestions for spare parts that DB can develop using the AMPI software.

The development of the digital spare parts warehouse builds upon DB’s previous initiative to 3D print its spare parts. Since then, DB has been able to 3D print almost 15,000 spare parts and other products, helping to achieve significant savings and reduce vehicle downtime.

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Featured image shows Uwe Fresenborg (DB), Daniela Chiappini (Trenitalia), Stefanie Brickwede (Mobility goes Addivite), Lars Lindberg (SJ) and Andreas Zwerger (ÖBB) – from left to right – initiating the RAILiability group. Photo via Mobility goes Additive.