Alstom installs 3D printed components on its trains

3D printed components are now circulating on the Dutch railway network via Alstom’s NS Class 1600/1800 locomotives, the world leader in integrated rail systems. As part of its maintenance operations, Alstom has developed new highly resistant parts in collaboration with ARMOR, manufacturers of Kimya filaments, and Arkema, designer of innovative materials and solutions.

NS Class 1600/1800 electric locomotives are equipped with approximately 50 power supply cable supports. Initially this support was manufactured by polycarbonate injection, but the component geometry, related tooling and materials are now obsolete. Alstom’s maintenance teams were thus searching for an innovative solution that could withstand temperatures above 100°C without presenting a risk to the transport of passengers. « As the volume of parts to be produced is limited, the injection was not appropriate. We then focused on additive manufacturing, which offers lower production costs, faster manufacturing time than traditional methods and a comprehensive choice of high-performance materials. » explains Aurélien Fussel Additive Manufacturing Senior Expert of Alstom.

To design these spare parts, which must withstand high temperatures, Alstom’s team has used Kimya filaments. « The PEKK-A Kimya filament, manufactured from Arkema’s KEPSTAN® PEKK copolymer, offers very high performance suitable for the most demanding technical applications. In addition, unlike polycarbonate, which was not designed for the additive manufacturing process, PEKK-A Kimya has excellent printing properties. » explains Pierre-Antoine Pluvinage, Business Development Director Kimya 3D Materials by ARMOR.

Kepstan® PEKK (PolyEtherKetoneKetoneKetone) is a very high performance thermoplastic that perfectly meets the challenges of the electronics and electrical market as well as the constraints of 3D printing. «Its adjustable semi-crystalline structure offers a remarkable combination of mechanical and thermal resistance, with high dielectric strength and good insulating properties.» explains Guillaume De Crevoisier, Global Business Director 3D Printing Solutions by Arkema.