Deutsche Bahn (DB) is the largest railway operator in Europe. They are responsible for the operation of the national rail network and infrastructure in Germany, as well as providing international rail services. DB started using 3D printing in 2015 and is a global leader in this field for the rail industry. Whether plastic or metal, parts for vehicles and infrastructure or auxiliaries in their maintenance: over 100,000 parts have been engineered in more than 500 applications using around 12 different AM technologies. By 2030, around 10,000 different components are targeted to be stocked solely for digital manufacturing.
To answer incoming Requests for Quotation (RFQ), the Additive Manufacturing (AM) team at DB previously had to perform a number of tasks manually, including:
These tasks are repetitive, time-consuming and error prone. In many cases, spreadsheet calculations vulnerable to errors have been used to carry out these tasks.
DB implemented 3D Spark, a software solution that automates AM technology selection, costing and pricing based on the manufacturing reality of DB. 3D Spark uses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyse 3D CAD files, 2D drawings (PDFs) and metadata to generate accurate manufacturability, cost, lead time and CO2 calculations.
The implementation of 3D Spark will lead to a significant decrease in cost calculation time, while achieving an accuracy of ±5%. Namely, the implementation is expected to cut the cost calculation time by two thirds, so that their AM team now has more time to dedicate to actual customer challenges and generate revenues.
Using the 3D Spark platform, DB can now also track the amount of CO2 emitted while manufacturing a part and benchmark this data with other manufacturing technologies to easily identify the best manufacturing approach.
3D Spark’s built-in market price insights tool has given DB the ability to compare their prices with average market prices making the quotation process more efficient.
The use of 3D Spark has provided DB with a number of benefits, including:
The use of 3D Spark has enabled DB to improve the accuracy and efficiency of their AM costing processes. Benefits include instant cost estimation, improved workflow efficiency and reduced time and resources spent on manual tasks. In addition, DB can better track the cost of AM parts over time, which has enabled them to identify cost trends, discover further opportunities and optimize AM processes.