3D printing at Deutsche Bahn AG is taking off

Stefanie Brickwede

29 August 2017

Stefanie spoke about the transformative benefits of 3D printing for Deutsche Bahn and the entire rail sector at the 4th International Railway Summit in Paris.

WORLD LEADING mobility and logistics company Deutsche Bahn AG (DB) provides services in more than 130 countries across the globe. Now it´s time for the mobility sector to benefit from 3D printing. DB is primarily focused on rapid manufacturing of spare parts.

3D printing can solve our obsolescence problem,” says Stefanie Brickwede, head of 3D printing@DeutscheBahn and Managing Director of the 3d printing network “Mobility goes Additive”. Instead of waiting months or years for components which are difficult to obtain, replacement parts are currently being manufactured directly by a print job. “Even small quantities can be produced in this way” S. Brickwede says, “and in addition, the future spare parts can be optimized before printing”. Train stoppages cost the DB a lot of money and the customers are dissatisfied because of train failure. Spare parts are therefore always needed as quickly as possible and this technology is a good alternative to the conventional procurement. An example is the dust cap (see figure 1). The cap protects the braking system of a railroad vehicle from contamination and in the past could only be replaced as a whole. By using 3D printing the cap can be individually replaced. This reduces both the cost of material requirements and the complex braking and leakage tests.

Dust Cap

Figure 1

Brickwede says that ultimately 3-5% of the spare parts that the railway needs for both rolling stock and infrastructure could be printed. But DB is not yet producing 3D-printed components by itself, rather there are several companies that take over this business service. “Many companies take an insourcing of production facilities into account”, says Brickwede, “but for now we have to expand our know-how and concentrate on identification of printable parts.

The partners of the DB-initiated network “Mobility goes Additive” is very helpful in this way”. At the beginning of 2016 Deutsche Bahn AG has recognized special needs in this area and created a cross-industry cooperation in form of a network. “Mobility goes Additive” is a collaboration of several well-known founding members. All of them are focused on securing the supply chain, the production and optimization of obsolete spare parts and the reduction of material storage costs through on-demand production. The common exchange of experience will create economic solutions for the industry and expand the 3D printing applications. “Mobility goes additive” is an open network for all companies and research institutes and it´s helping to forge new partnerships between meanwhile more than 45 member-companies.

Category: 3D Printing Blog


About the author

Stefanie Brickwede graduated in economics before starting her career in the mobility sector and working in various project and management functions for Deutsche Bahn AG. Since 2015, Stefanie has been passionately leading the 3D printing project. She is responsible for the successful introduction of additive production within the corporate DB.

To facilitate the breakthrough of 3d printing technology in mobility and logistics a network "Mobility goes Additive" was founded which is managed by her.