Additive Manufacturing helps Wabtec achieve its Sustainability goals

wabtec-3D-printed-parts - image: Wabtec

Building a Stronger Wabtec

In its 2020 Sustainability report, Wabtec Corporation  highlights its achievements in building a more sustainable future by developing innovative technologies and driving responsible operations.

For those who are not familiar with the company’s activities, Wabtec is a global provider of equipment, systems, digital solutions and value-added services for freight and transit rail.

Despite the other transportation means, the rail industry remains a key player of the global transportation system. Considered as the most cost-effective and energy-efficient mode of transport, experts including Wabtec forecast that passenger and freight demand will double by 2050, making rail the most sustainable way to move people and goods over land.

With that in mind, companies of the rail industry are adapting their operations to achieve a more sustainable transportation. For the global rail and transit manufacturer, this adaptation required the implementation of a wide range of activities to improve its global environmental performance, activities that include the integration of unique technologies such as additive manufacturing to help meet these sustainability goals.

In its report, the company explained that 2019 was a transformational one for Wabtec as the company integrated those unique technologies that would have enabled sustainable transportation. Last year, we effectively reported on the company’s acquisition of GE Additive H2 binder jet technology.

 “This binder jet machine will help us design and produce reliable, low-cost components for our current and developmental engines, locomotive, transit and mining programs”, explained Philip Moslener, global director of the WabtecOne Platform & Applied Innovation.

AM helps the manufacturer reduce the material and energy waste linked to complex assemblies and the manufacturing of parts. The use of AM has considerably enabled the reduction of production waste while time to market has decreased by up to 90%.

With over 1,250 3D printed prototypes throughout 2019, Wabtec positions itself as an early adopter of metal 3D printing on the US-market of the rail industry.

Furthermore, to keep its products in circulation for as long as possible, the rail expert relies on remanufacturing processes. This reduces waste, extends the life of equipment and drives costs savings. According to the firm, remanufacturing led to 326 627 120€ of end-of-life material being brought back to its manufacturing facilities each year, which is then reused or recycled with less than one percent waste.

Wabtec’s position as a global transportation leader gives us a unique perspective on the trends that are impacting our customers and other stakeholders, namely: climate change, automation and digitization, and urbanization,” said Rafael Santana, president and CEO of Wabtec. “Our 2020 Sustainability Report outlines a series of aggressive goals to address those trends, improve our performance on global environment, social and governance matters, and drive a better future for people and the planet.”

Prospects for the future

Moving forward, Wabtec is looking to produce over 25,000 additive manufactured parts by 2025. To make it easier to achieve this goal, the company has recently secured an 11,000 square foot plot  (1022 m2) in Pittsburgh’s additive manufacturing hub, Neighborhood 91. By end of next year, the company would have produced lightweight parts for its transit customers with a lead time reduction of up to 80 percent.

On almost every continent we are demonstrating the power of what Wabtec can do when we work together to achieve a common purpose,” Santana concludes. “By focusing on sustainability and accountability, and with an incredible team behind us, I’m confident we will achieve our goals and build a bigger, stronger Wabtec well positioned to move and improve the world.”

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