Czech Railways jumped on the wave of 3D printing and picked up the first 55 spare partswhich they will be able to produce themselves. Don’t worry, it won’t be whole wagons, but rather plastic trifles starting with various sleeves and nuts and ending with hinges and grilles.
ČD’s own production shortens service by 52 days and the annual savings of only 13 selected elements with the longest waiting period climb to 800 thousand crowns. The tracks thus also respond to the current crisis in supply chains, which makes the production of not only chips but also many other components more expensive and slower down.
In the next stage of the project, which is part of Strategy of 2030 Czech Railways, the investment in 3D printers in nine service centers, staff training and software purchase are planned.
German and Austrian railways also use 3D printing
Czech Railways is not the first of its kind, as two key partners from Austria and Germany Österreichische Bundesbahnen (ÖBB) and of course Deutsche Bahn (DB) started 3D printing of spare parts and other details years ago (1, 2).
German railways started with FDM and plastic, but today they print from metal powder
At the same time, German colleagues in particular prefer the path of partnership with the local industry, so in addition to the basic and by far the most widespread FDM (molten fiber extrusion) technology, they also have access to powder technologies and metal alloy printing.
Thanks to this, they can produce much tougher spare parts that the layman will no longer recognize from the original. But Diva can also do more affordable FDM printing, because in addition to basic thermoplastics, you can also produce prototypes from special hardened materials, strings with carbon admixture and other additives.
Czech Railways will use 3D printing for vehicle maintenance
Reducing costs and shortening the delivery time are the two main advantages of the introduction of 3D printing within Czech Railways in the maintenance of railway vehicles. Modern technology is being tested in Prague and Karlovy Vary, and will be extended to other locations in the future.
“In the initial phase, we selected 55 different parts that we can produce ourselves through 3D printing. These are various smaller plastic parts, nuts, sleeves, hinges, grilles and the like, which are often only supplied as part of a larger and more expensive unit. We evaluated that in these cases the delivery of the spare part for repair will be shortened by up to 52 days and the annual savings for only 13 selected components is approximately CZK 800,000 per year, ”says Jan Janoušek, project office director, strategy and innovation.
Czech Railways focused on 3D printing mainly for parts with a long delivery time, parts delivered only as part of a larger unit, where it is necessary but unnecessary to replace a large and expensive unit and adequate repair can be provided by a small part at a “crown” price, or parts , which are no longer available on the market and had to be replaced by other parts.
For the effective use of 3D printing, the project is grasped in groups (involvement of subsidiaries – ČD Cargo, DPOV) and a platform was created within the company for experts who deal with this technology and a central digital data warehouse of individual components intended for own production. All such parts must be approved by the design office and other specialists, and some of them are also subject to assessment, resp. approval by the relevant accredited persons.
In the next stage of the use of 3D printing within Czech Railways, investments in 3D printers in 9 main maintenance centers, acquisition of additional SW licenses for 3D model creation, training of relevant experts and development of existing cooperation with external partners in the field of 3D printing are planned. in the Czech Republic (eg universities) or abroad. There, they have experience with 3D printing of spare parts, for example the German DB railway or the Austrian ÖBB railway.
The 3D printing implementation project is part of the Czech Railways 2030 Strategy.