Transportation

Wabtec opens 3D printing center for railway spare parts in France

The center in Tours relies on the SLM500 machine from Nikon SLM Solutions to serve the EMEA region

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In the railroad industry, the production of spare parts faces challenges due to the obsolescence of aging components, often leading to high costs, long delivery times, and idle trains. However, Nikon SLM Solutions offers a potential remedy through its additive manufacturing technology. This approach allows the production of parts within weeks, as opposed to months seen in other manufacturing methods. Recognizing the importance of addressing these challenges, Wabtec, a leading global rail technology firm, has opened its inaugural 3D printing center in Tours, France – servicing the EMEA region with a focus on additive manufacturing parts for the railway sector. The company has chosen Nikon SLM Solutions as its machine supplier and technology solutions partner – incorporating the new SLM500 machine into its center.

The 3D printing center comprises the entire 3D printing process chain – from printing quality metal parts to quality checks and post-processing. The opening of the center is a true game changer – not only for the railway industry – but also for the Nikon SLM technology as it solves the obsolescence issues: high-quality spare parts produced on Nikon SLM machines can be shipped within a few weeks after order validation, and trains can be quickly put back into service.

With the new SLM500 as well as an SLM280 and SLM800 machine, which have already been used in the Wabtec AM US network, the company almost possesses the entire product range of Nikon SLM machines.

Wabtec opens 3D printing center for railway spare parts in Tours, France - relying on the SLM500 machine from Nikon SLM Solutions.

“We have selected Nikon SLM Solutions as they were proposing the best technical option on Aluminum, but also because some of our previous validated parts have been already produced on their machines. Nikon SLM’s technical team additionally has provided us and our applications an amazing support for the implementation of this new project,” said Henri de Chassey, Head of Additive Manufacturing at Wabtec Transit.

The production includes basic spare parts manufactured by Wabtec, most of them due to supply chain or obsolescence issues, but also for new products for many different applications such as brake systems, pantographs, HVAC, and doors.

“We are excited about our partnership with Wabtec, which has already yielded many production-ready metal parts. The opening of the 3D printing center is moving the rail industry forward. This example shows the operational feasibility of Nikon SLM technology. Serial parts produced on Nikon SLM machines are made available quickly, meet all safety-critical requirements in the industry, and enable the railway industry for new functional part design revolutions,” said Ralf Frohwerk, Global Head of Business Development at Nikon SLM Solutions.

The location of Tours, in France, is of strategic importance for Wabtec, as the site is already equipped with post-processing options to complete the parts produced, from machining to painting with surface treatment if required. All these production lines meet the high-quality requirements of the railroad standards.

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Edward Wakefield

Edward is a freelance writer and additive manufacturing enthusiast looking to make AM more accessible and understandable.

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