How 3D Printers are Being Used to Improve the Way the Rails Are Ridden
Disclaimer: Please always take precaution when 3D Printing for public use as all products are produced at your own risk.
Cars, trucks, and SUVs have become the way most people travel today, but public transportations systems in larger areas have grown a substantial following in recent years as well. Buses make up the majority of the public transit system, but more people are utilising train travel for their daily commute these days. Trains save an unbelievable amount of time as they are not confined to congested highways. With all the new use, train maintenance is essential to keep the system running smoothly.
Traditionally, train parts for both public transit systems and long distance rail lines must be ordered or stocked in a company warehouse. If a part is missing or unavailable, the delay could potentially impact the entire train system leading to customer complaints and a bad reputation for the company. The solution for this issue has been staring us in the face for many years and railways in the UK are finally utilising 3D Printing for its amazing ability to alleviate the strain.
3D Printing Seats and Components
Wear and tear happens on any public transportation entity. Seats become worn, armrests break, and seat latches malfunction. Although, perfect seats, latches, and handrails are not a critical part of the train, the train can still technically function, it does inconvenience the customers which, in turn, may give the rail line a negative reputation. In any case. Rail lines are now investing in on site 3D Printers in their stations and even onboard some trains to manufacture necessary parts for the comfort of their valued clientele. The concept of 3D Printers in railway stations and on trains may be difficult to grasp, but is an ingenious opportunity for adaptive manufacturing without the middle man.
3D Printed seats and other train components for the comfort of customers
Helping People with Disabilities
Disabled people find it difficult to travel in certain rail lines. The railway system does its best to accommodate individuals with disabilities, but is largely limited in their ability to help out. This is an area in which 3D Printing would greatly benefit those within the train industry and their disabled customers. Imagine contacting a rail company in advance, if you have a specific disability, and they would be able to customise the seating or other aspects of the train to make it comfortable for you. It would also make it more convenient for visually impaired customers as the company could customised braille signage without ordering pieces from the manufacturer.
Customised seating would not only be available for those with disabilities but could be a unique marketing avenue for customised train travel for those willing to pay a premium price. The same notion might be an option for other travel companies such as commercial airlines. Custom accommodations take on a whole new life when 3D Printers are available.
Customised 3D Printed braille signs can be used for much more than just pointing out the restroom. They can be used on every part of the train for a more convenient and therefore comfortable travel experience for visually impaired customers.
Cost Effective Measures
Railway companies house a lot of spare parts for use in their trains. Costs for operating and maintaining a warehouse is in addition to initial costs of the parts housed there. Costs mount fast and the are passed on to the customers resulting in higher ticket prices. 3D Printing can open up an entirely new world of possibilities for both large and small rail systems. Instead of ordering parts form a centralised warehouse and waiting for those parts to be brought to the place they are needed, operators simply walk to an area and 3D Print the item in question.
For the cost of a few 3D Printers the company would save on taxes, utilities, upkeep, and high manufacturers fees for replacement parts. This tremendous savings, if passed on to the clientele, would garner substantially cheaper travel fees resulting in an increase in ticket sales for those who previously could not afford to travel via train. It is not a far off concept to grasp that implementing 3D Printers into the business model would drastically cut down on overhead expenses.
What About the Future?
As with every area 3D Printing touches, the possibilities are endless for their use in the railway industry. From simple hand rests and interior train components to the option of manufacturing working mechanical pieces for the train itself, opportunities abound. With new materials being introduced to 3D Printers everyday, this industry should take note that 3D Printed train components are on their way and, like the trains they service, it’s not going to be stopped.