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Britain’s Angel Trains Partners with Stratasys to Produce Train Interior Components using 3D Printing

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Angel Trains, Britain’s leading train leasing companies has partnered with Stratasys, one of the global leaders in additive manufacturing and engineering consultancy ESG rail to produce four fully approved interior components using 3D printing technology.

Some of the components approved for service include arm rest, grab handle, and seat back table – all of which will be tested on in-service passenger trains in the year 2019.

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Above: A 3D printed grab handle/Image Credit: Stratasys

The aim of the partnership is to leverage the use of additive manufacturing technology to address the issue of parts that are obsolete, bring cost reductions in whole life rolling stocks and to prolong the life of vehicles for passenger service. This innovation is also poised to help train operating companies reduce costs  by enabling on-demand production rather than mass manufacturing parts.

All the components have been designed using Stratasys’ Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) technology and have been structurally evaluated by ESG Rail for manufacturing using Stratasys 3D printed tooling and company’s advanced, rail-certified thermoplastic materials.

Traditionally, standard thermoplastics were used to but they had poor mechanical properties and fire performance and were hence unsuitable for rolling stock applications. However, now, new high-performance materials from Stratasys such as Antero 800 NA-  a PEKK-based thermoplastic has been tested to show that they are capable of achieving compliance to the Rail Standards.

Speaking about the industry-first collaboration, Mark Hicks, Technical Director at Angel Trains’ 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.”

“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,” commented Martin Stevens, Head of Mechanical Engineering at ESG Rail.

Commenting on how Stratasys’ FDM will benefit the rail industry, Yann Rageul, Manager, Strategic Account Team EMEA, Stratasys said, “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,” concluded Raguel.

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