3D printed spare part helps reduce Neapolitan public transport downtime by 95%

Italian engineering company 3DnA S.r.l has deployed Stratasys’ FDM 3D printing technology to significantly reduce downtime of Neapolitan trolleybuses through the production of spare parts.

Utilising the F900 3D printing system it adopted last year, 3DnA successfully reduced downtime from 12 months to two weeks when supplying spare parts to Azienda Napoletana Mobilità S.p.A (ANM), the company that manages the entire public transport network in Napoli.

These gains were made when replacing the vehicles’ trolley heads, a critical component that connects the aerial supply line to the trolleybus. Without these parts, the vehicles are not usable, and due to the age of the trolleybus fleet, replacement parts were no longer available to purchase.

3D scanning the original trolley head component and leveraging 3D printing technology, 3DnA was able to redesign the part so in the event of future damage, only a small component of the trolley head would need replacing, as opposed to the full part. The newly designed component features a core metal structure and a 3D printed exterior casing that connects the trolley head to the overhead wires. It was printed using Stratasys ULTEM 9085 resin, which is said to have provided the structural support required for the ‘rigours of everyday use’ and also met the necessary electrical insulation standards. Among the requirements for the component were for it not to conduct electricity, to boast excellent heat resistance with a heat deflection temperature of 153°C and offer very high strength-to-weight ratio. Since the printed part was developed, it has become the part of choice for the whole fleet.

“Creating the trolley heads with traditional manufacturing processes would have taken up to 12 months, resulting in a lengthy downtime for the vehicle that is simply not an option,” commented Alessandro Manzo, 3DnA’s General Director. “Using our F900, we were able to produce and deliver about 20 of the most critical parts of the trolley head in two weeks, enabling ANM to eliminate further risk of downtime to its fleet and ensure reliable transportation for the three million citizens of Naples. Overall, having this level of production flexibility is extremely important to ANM, as it can now order parts based on actual needs as opposed to warehousing large quantities of costly inventory.”

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