American manufacturer Stratasys has unveiled its 3D printing solution for the rail industry in an effort to save thousands of euros daily while ensuring that trains run on time.

The company uses its ULTEM 9085 resin and Antero 800NA material with Stratasys Fortus 3D printers to produce spare parts as per the demand of the rail operators. ULTEM 9085 resin is a flame-retardant, high-performance thermoplastic while Antero 800NA is a PEKK (polyetherketoneketone)-based thermoplastic.

The materials used by Stratasys adhere to the smoke, fire and toxicity requirements for government certification, as well as comply with EN45545-2, the European Union’s Rail Standard.

Stratasys’ additive manufacturing consultancy Blueprint said that an out-of-service train incurs a cost of €18,000 daily for the operator. The procurement of the spare parts poses a challenge for the operators in cases where the trains are older models. Irrespective of the uniqueness of the part, or the train car’s age, additive manufacturing can provide the parts in one or two days.

Angel Trains, Bombardier Transportation, Chiltern Railways, DB ESG, and Siemens Mobility are all included in Strartasys’ client base.

Stratasys EMEA President Andreas Langfeld said: “In industry after industry, we continue to see organisations discover how additive manufacturing improves customer service, streamlines maintenance and operating costs, and helps engineer lighter, durable products.

“Rail is no exception. The old model of keeping trains running through expensive physical inventory or slow and costly traditional manufacturing is being replaced by digital inventory and on-demand 3D printing. Indeed, this is exemplified by some of the biggest names in European passenger rail.”