DB ESG has extensive experience in rolling stock engineering. Formed in 1995 and a 60+ strong engineering consultancy in its own right, our journey in Digital Manufacturing started in 2018 in response to obsolescence issues our customers were facing.
Rail vehicles have a typical service life of 30 – 35 years. This means that a lot of the parts that make up our railway fleets are no longer readily available; companies who made these parts do not exist anymore, the original drawings have been lost or the method of production itself is obsolete.
Procurement pressures such as large minimum order quantities, long lead times and global price rises further compound the issue. So even if you can find somewhere to get the part, – your vehicle is still out of service for longer. Technology also moves on; the average rail vehicle is 18 years old and the methods we relied on 18 years ago have fading relevance to modern manufacturing techniques.
Our solution isn’t limited to merely replacing obsolete parts, we can also create complete bespoke engineering solutions from scratch.
Case Study has been sent to Hitachi Rail for approval
The Brake Box cover was a great example of solving obsolescence. The original cover was mounted on the exterior of the vehicle to protect vital components and was originally manufactured with ballast strikes in mind. The original part was damaged, the customer had no spares and the original manufacturer of this part no longer existed.
The project ensured a part that wasn’t otherwise available was produced quickly and at a fair cost. This ensured the obsolescence issue was solved and the vehicle remained in service.
The Yaw Damper bracket is a great example of using 3D printing to enhance more traditional production methods. The customer required two of these parts for their 158 fleet, due to a lack of spares. The original part was produced by casting; this manufacturing method needs a sufficient minimum order quantity to justify the cost of creating the moulds, leaving the customer with a high cost per part and more parts than required which take up storage space and ultimately, increase the overall cost.
As this part would not be able to be 3D printed due to its structural integrity requirements, a more effective way of using 3D printing to enhance the traditional casting process was to 3D print the mould pattern, then cast using spheroidal graphite cast iron (BS EN 1563:2018 Grade EN-GJS-400-18-LT) originally specified for this part by the British Rail design. A pattern could be 3D printed and a mould produced quicker and cheaper than the traditional method. This therefore, Increased speed, decreased cost and allowed for no minimum order quantity requirements which solved the problem the customer had.
The initial batch was delivered with a similar lead time to the traditional method, largely down to the amount of investigatory work required. However, due to the success of this project, after the initial two parts were produced – the customer placed a further order for two more. This second batch was delivered much quicker than the original timescales and at considerably lower cost.
Quicker and cheaper – Digital manufacturing eliminates the requirement for manual measurements and 2D drawings allowing a quicker end-to-end process and rapid prototyping ensures quick validation of designs. Being based in Derby, with an extensive UK supply network, there’s also the speed gained through localisation and with no minimum order quantities; you only pay for what you need.
Replace and improve – Design improvements allow parts to be optimized rather than directly replaced; resulting in failure rates being significantly reduced. A wide range of digital manufacturing technologies allow parts to be designed to meet their specific functional requirements, not to meet the limitations of a specific manufacturing method.
Never worry about obsolescence again – 3D scanning allows the quick digitization of old parts which have no or limited drawings. The 3D model produced using CAD is then used as the master file for manufacture and production. This also allows future design alterations to be implemented easily.
Better for the environment – The additive manufacturing process creates less waste and less CO2 emissions vs traditional manufacturing methods as well as less energy consumed in the production process. We also use recycled and recyclable materials wherever possible.
Our catalogue showcases the range of obsolescence solutions we’ve already provided to our customers but we’re always looking for new problems to solve.
Whether you have an obsolete part, a problem within your supply chain or a specific engineering requirement; we specialise in getting your vehicle back into service and keeping it there.
The first company to introduce a fully
approved 3D printed part to a UK rail vehicle
All our parts meet the relevant
railway industry and European standards
From one-off production
runs to large-scale supply
3DB ESG are leading the charge in additive manufacturing R&D. We are heavily invested in constantly pursuing innovation, new technologies and new materials. 3D printing is an emerging technology, and we aim to carry the torch for the rail industry.
We have led the RAILiability working group in ‘Mobility goes Additive’ for the last two years. RAILiability is a group of European railway operators working together to advance additive manufacturing within rail, sharing their best practice and collaborating on resolving the core challenges.
Nick Miljkovic – Systems Engineer – Angel Trains
Steve Venables – Engineering Manager – Transport for London
Try searching for a part, component or vehicle fleet…
Simple ordering processes are vital to our customers’ ability to respond quickly. A lot of the parts and solutions we have created are available for production runs. Our catalogue allows you to order these and serves as a demonstration of our capabilities.