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The Intercity Express of the German state railway Deutsche Bahn (DB) is a continental European system of high-speed trains renowned for their comfort and reliability. Occasionally things go wrong, however, as happened last year when two rail carriages needed repair. Both required a new secondary roll stop, a heavy steel component bolted to the underside of each passenger car that limits lateral play on tight curves to ensure safe cornering.
Self-evidently it is a safety-critical part whose method of manufacture rail engineers are reluctant to change. Nevertheless, DB was forced to do just that, as the secondary roll stop is not a regular service item but an accident repair part and therefore not normally held in stock. Two were needed quickly but the problem was that the usual supplier was quoting 10 months to deliver the castings, after which they still had to be machined by the usual subtractive process. Moreover, the quote was for a minimum order quantity of four castings.
Florens Lichte, DB’s Head of Additive Manufacturing explained: “Apart from the extended lead-time for delivery, we would also have had to pay serious money for the initial tooling.
“None of this was an option for us. We needed …
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