Netherlands Railways is now making use of 3D printing as part of its train maintenance activities. The company has already 3D printed 20 spare parts and plans to fabricate over 50 by the end of the year.
The first 3D printed components have already been installed into a train which is already operating on the Dutch network. The reality is that, traditional techniques of manufacturing requires bulk orders whereas 3D printing enables the company to fabricate a single part, saving this way time and money. According to NS, additive manufacturing cuts in maintenance operation times, which allows to avoid a shortage of trains in service.
The Dutch company calls for the service of Dimanex, Utrecht-based provider of 3D printing services. Spare parts are manufactured in plastic and metal depending on the need. “We work with suppliers to find the best solutions,” says NS spokesperson Anita Middelkoop. “After all, they are also looking for innovations to be able to do their work better.”
Furthermore, Middelkoop adds that 3D printing enables the company to make tools. “We work together with organizations that have 3D printers,” said Middelkoop. “You can imagine that if we have a printer somewhere, we have to wait until the part is finished before we can print the next one. By working together with these organizations, we always have sufficient capacity.”
The company would like to improve rolling stock maintenance by offering access to obsolete components. Lastly, they are willing to accept new ideas and contact with components suppliers that have a proven experience in 3D printing, in order to develop the possibilities for the use of AM in its train maintenance activities.
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