PEKK shows its mettle in replacement train components
Angel Trains, one of Britain’s leading train leasing companies, has collaborated with engineering consultancy ESG Rail, and 3D printing technology provider Stratasys, to produce four fully approved interior components using additive manufacturing. The components approved for service include an armrest, grab handle and seat back table – all of which will now be trialed on in-service passenger trains in 2019. They are fabricated from polyetherketoneketone (PEKK) resin.
The aim of this collaboration is to leverage additive manufacturing to help address the issue of obsolete parts, reduce whole life rolling stock costs and enable vehicles to remain in passenger service for longer. This innovation also has the added potential to lower costs for train operating companies, as they can produce low run parts as needed, rather than mass manufacturing vast quantities.
All parts have been designed for additive manufacturing and 3D printed using Stratasys’ fused deposition modeling (FDM) technology. In addition, the components have been structurally assessed by ESG Rail for manufacturing using Stratasys 3D printed tooling and the company’s advanced, rail-certified thermoplastic materials. The components will soon commence in-service passenger trials, which are expected to last until the summer of 2019.
Traditionally, standard thermoplastics have been used, but these have poor mechanical properties and fire performance and are therefore unsuitable for rolling stock applications. New, high-performance materials, including Stratasys Antero 800 NA, a PEKK-based thermoplastic, have now been tested to demonstrate they are capable of achieving compliance with the Rail Standard EN45545-2.
Commenting on this announcement, Mark Hicks, Angel Trains’ Technical Director said: “This exciting industry-first collaboration has the potential to transform manufacturing within the rail industry. We are proud to be driving this innovation with ESG Rail and Stratasys and hope that this solution will help to free the industry from technological constraints, and allow our trains to continue to meet passengers’ needs now and in the future.”
Martin Stevens, Head of Mechanical Engineering, ESG Rail, commented: “We have learned so much during this project and have addressed many engineering challenges. We believe that this emerging method of manufacturing will reduce costs, production times and issues faced by component obsolescence.”
Yann Rageul, Manager, Strategic Account Team EMEA, Stratasys added: “With the highest level of repeatability in the industry and advanced, rail-certified, materials, we believe our FDM additive manufacturing solutions offer huge potential to replace traditional manufacturing for a diverse range of applications within the rail industry. This collaboration will help us to explore how we can support rail companies, such as Angel Trains, to produce parts on-demand – both cost-effectively and efficiently – eradicating the need for obsolete inventory and improving their ability to service customers.”
Kevin Dilks, Business Development Manager, ESG Rail, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be working alongside Angel Trains and Stratasys in the development of additive manufacturing components for the rail industry. We are proud to be at the forefront of this emerging technology and we look forward to a long and fruitful collaboration.”