Railway Suppliers Employ 3D Printing to Defeat COVID-19

Written by David Burroughs, News & Features Writer, International Railway Journal
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(RZD) is currently testing 36 attachments for door handles, provided by Siemens, that enable doors to be opened with an elbow or lower arm.

Siemens and Alstom have begun using their 3D printing capabilities to produce items to protect passengers, staff and medical practitioners during the coronavirus pandemic.

Siemens: Look, COVID-19! No Hands!

Russian Railways (RZD) is currently testing 36 attachments for door handles, provided by Siemens, that enable doors to be opened with an elbow or lower arm rather than by hand, reducing the risk of spreading germs or a virus like COVID-19.

Siemens has installed the prototypes in several Desiro trains operating in the Moscow area, with further implementation across other fleets planned. Siemens recently purchased two Stratasys 3D printers to assist with the maintenance of RZD’s fleet, which also includes several Velaro high-speed trains.

“3D printing gives us the flexibility to manufacture and replace spare parts ourselves any time in daily business,” says Siemens CEO Sabrina Soussan. “We’re using this technology now to quickly produce attachments for door handles on demand so we can meet our customers’ growing need for special health and protection measures.”

Alstom: Shields and Valves

Alstom is manufacturing visors for face shields and ventilator valves.

Alstom’s 3D printing hub in at Santa Perpètua, Barcelona, is also coordinating initiatives across the group to produce components, supply consumables and design new solutions. Working in coordination with the 3Dcovid19.org network, the hub is manufacturing visors for face shields and ventilator valves.

“The aim is to help the healthcare community by manufacturing parts that meet appropriate quality and safety standards,” says Jaume Altesa, who is responsible for Alstom’s 3D printing hub at Santa Perpètua. “3D printing has gained prominence due to its particular usefulness for creating equipment to protect against COVID-19, as it can be used to manufacture materials currently suffering severe shortages such as face masks, mechanical respirators and even door openers, among others.”

The CAD design experts at the Santa Perpètua facility are also innovating in new solutions and developments, including working on portable personal protectors for door handles and the use of anti-bacterial materials in the masks.

The 3D printing hub in Barcelona was launched in 2016 as one of the components of Smart Operations, Alstom’s “Industry of the Future” program. Its ambition is to produce 3D-printed parts quickly and at a competitive price for new rail vehicles, to meet customers’ requests for parts, and to facilitate manufacturing and maintenance.

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