If you can think it you can print it! How 3D printing is revolutionizing the rail industry.

UnionPacific3D

Photo Source: 3D Printing Industry

“We can make design tweaks and have a new version ready within hours, plus the prototype never leaves UP. Additionally, it ensures a complete design before we move into expensive tooling or long lead times for molded parts.” – Royce Connerley, Union Pacific Senior System Engineer

It’s no exaggeration to say the 3D printing is a technology with boundless potential. With medical industries, housing, manufacturing, and hobbyists using the tech for printing in ways never before possible, it is no surprise that the railway industry too is turning to 3D printing for solutions.

For a bit of a background, 3D printing is the use of machinery to print components/materials. These materials can be plastic, metal through powder printing, and much more.

Union Pacific, for example, is using 3D printing for railroad machine vision technology. Machine vision loosely refers to the using of imagery for automatic inspection or analysis. Furthermore, Union Pacific is 3D printing remote controlled devices to track rail equipment.

In Europe, Deutsche Bahn has begun to use 3D printing in their actual train assembly. As Uwe Fresenborg, CEO of DB Fahrzeuginstandhaltung states: “For the maintenance of our vehicles we need immediately available spare parts. Our trains are expected to roll, 3D printing helps us in doing so. Printing is faster, more flexible and cheaper than conventional manufacturing processes, and the vehicles are available again in a very short time and are used for our customers.”

3D-Druck_02

Photo Source: 3D Printing Industry

Beyond creating parts for trains, Deutsche Bahn has employed 3D printing to increase the overall experience of customers, such as by 3D printing metal pieces with braille for disabled customers and individualized handicap signs for handrails. As the program develops we can anticipate seeing more 3D printing components throughout Europe and beyond.

It’s safe to say that 3D printing will revolutionize not only rail but all manner of transport industries with its benefits to customer quality of life, safety testing, part replacement, and machine vision. As more industries adopt the technology we can expect to see even greater breakthroughs still.

Sources:

RailJournal: DB steps up 3D printing of train components

3D Printing Industry: Union Pacific 3D printing for railroad machine vision technology

3D Printing Industry: Deutsche Bahn extends use of 3D printing to “revolutionize maintenance”

What lies ahead in the wood products industry?

Framework, Oregon's 1st Proposed All-Wood High-rise

Framework, Oregon’s 1st Proposed All-Wood High-rise

“The Wood Innovations Grant Program helps create jobs in rural communities and keeps our forests healthy. By investing in strong markets for forest products, we can incentivize sustainable forest management and sustain our rural communities.” – U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. 

The future is certainly bright for wood products and wood energy industry! A short time ago, the U.S. Forest Service announced over $8.3 million to expand and accelerate wood products and wood energy markets. This increase will mean a total investment of over $45 million in funds from 36 business, university, non-profit, and tribal partners in 19 states. From 2013, this funding has aided in the establishing of 22 Statewide Wood Energy Teams and six Statewide Wood Utilization Teams.

Furthermore, the 2017 Wood Innovations Grant Recipients include the Arkansas Wood Utilization Council, Camptonville Forest Biomass Business Center Bioenergy Facility, Mammoth Lakes Integrated Biomass Waste Processing Center, and the Great Plains CLT market Development through Architectural Education to name a few.

On June 6, Portland officials approved a plan for the first all-wood high-rise in the United States dubbed Framework. A fitting name for what may lay the framework for other-similar all-wood high-rises to appear throughout the country. These projects are not just good for the wood industry — they are good for the country. As Gov. Kate Brown said. “Oregon’s forests are a tried and true resource that may again be the key to economic stability for rural Oregon.”

The Timber Innovation Act is another possible indicator of bright things to come. Should the bill gain Congress approval it will bring forth incentives and measures to create innovation in the timber industry and to help further development of CLT structures in the USA.

The future is no doubt a positive one for Wood Products and Wood Energy; we can’t wait to see what else is in store in the next few months.

Sources:

Forest Business Network

Washington Post

CBC