Apr 24, 2017 | By Benedict

The Mobility Division of global engineering and technology company Siemens has announced it is using a Stratasys FDM 3D printer to fabricate low-volume production parts for rail companies, including Stadtwerke Ulm/Neu Ulm (SWU) Verkehr GmbH, a German transport services provider.

3D printed driver seat armrest produced by Siemens Mobility for SWU Verkehr

In an effort to stay “on track” with its low-volume production of rail industry parts, Siemens’ Mobility Division is implementing cutting-edge manufacturing technology, including a Stratasys Fortus 900mc Production 3D Printer, to produce end-use rail industry parts in a matter of days. Previously, such parts would have taken weeks to produce and required costly tooling.

According to Siemens Mobility, the company had faced a challenge when confronted with increasing customer demand for one-off customized parts. Despite having a wealth of equipment with which to make these parts, the company found it was not cost effective enough to accept orders of fewer than 10 parts, since individual tools would be required for each design. This in turn meant that several would-be customers had to be turned away.

Now, thanks to 3D printing, Siemens Mobility is able to take orders of any size, since manufacturing 10 one-off parts on its new Stratasys Fortus 3D printer comes with roughly the same material costs as producing a run of 10 identical parts. “Our production services for end-use parts have become much more flexible and tailored to our customers’ needs since we introduced the Stratasys Fortus 900mc Production 3D Printer into our manufacturing process,” said Tina Eufinger, Business Development manager at Siemens Mobility.

“Before we integrated 3D printing into production, we were forced to produce higher quantities of parts in order to make the project cost-effective,” Eufinger added. “For small volume part demands from customers, we would store excess parts until they were used, discarded or became too outdated to use. With the Fortus 900mc, we can now create a design that is 100 percent customized to specific requirements and optimized several times before it is 3D printed.”

One customer to have felt the benefit of Siemens Mobility’s new low-volume production approach is SWU Verkehr, a German transport services provider that working across 10 rail networks in the inner city of Ulm. Since Siemens introduced its additive manufacturing equipment, SWU Verkehr has ordered 3D printed customized armrests for the driver seat and 3D printed housing covers for the coupler, a component that covers the link between two tram carriages.

Making such parts for SWU Verkehr required Siemens Mobility to take a number of material and mechanical considerations into account. To align with fire protection requirements, for example, Siemens asked Stratasys for a  flame, smoke, and toxicity (FST) compliant synthetic thermoplastic with which to 3D print the parts in question. However, making parts out of the right 3D printing materials was only half the challenge.

Siemens Mobility's Stratasys Fortus 900mc 3D printer

“Customers such as SWU Verkehr GmbH see ‘availability’ as the most important asset to their business—trams and services need to be available and run constantly throughout the day in order for the transport company to be profitable,” said Andreas Düvel, a customer service sales rep at Siemens Mobility. “The ability to quickly and cost-effectively 3D print customized parts specific to customer requirements enables clients such as SWU Verkehr GmbH to be closely involved in the design and production of its own parts.”

Siemens mobility is also expanding its business branch online, having introduced a system that allows customers to order 3D printed parts through a website. This means that customers can order their 3D printed components in the shortest possible time, making the total 3D printing production process—already rapid thanks to the lack of tooling—even faster.

“Siemens is a prime example of how 3D printing can make customized low volume production profitable for businesses—not just for the manufacturer in this case, but also for the end-use customer, the rail industry,” commented Andy Middleton, President of Stratasys EMEA. “With the ability to localize manufacturing and 3D print on-demand, entire supply chains can be redefined with large stocks of obsolete parts no longer required. For the rail industry, the likes of SWU Verkehr GmbH can now work closely with manufacturers to design and optimize 3D printed parts when they need them, ensuring trams are operational and that there is minimal disruption to public services.”

Siemens has worked with Stratasys several times in the past. Last November, the companies partnered to merge Stratasys’ additive manufacturing technology with Siemens’ Digital Factory solutions. Stratasys’ futuristic Robotic Composite 3D printer also uses Siemens PLM software and motion control technology.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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