When it comes to high speed rail (HSR) transport there really is no one coming even close to matching the rail network of China. Spanning more than 12,000 miles, the country not only has the largest network of HSR tracks in the world, but its entire network is larger than all of the rest of the world’s HSR track networks combined. The Chinese HSR currently serves more than two and a half million riders every day, and reaches 28 of China’s 33 provinces. China doesn’t ever do anything small, and high speed rail is no exception, so they are still rapidly expanding their rail network and planning to grow it even further to more than 19,000 miles by 2020.
Needless to say the development of HSR technology in China is big business and companies from all over the world are lining up to help them develop it. Italian industrial design firm Drawpon Lab has announced a new collaboration called the Viper Project with Piedmont, Italy-based 3D printer manufacturer Ira3D to develop the world’s first high speed train that will be entirely prototyped using a desktop 3D printer. The new train is being developed exclusively for the Chinese market and is expected to be capable of reaching speeds up to 380 Km/h (236 mph).
“High speed is one of the greatest challenges of our era and the time is right for us to make our move. The transition towards such important technological development requires complete technical preparation, ambition and determination. We are convinced of the importance of leaving the world better than we found it and we are happy with the collaboration between 3D printing by Ira3D and Drawpon Lab, in which we have found a reliable partner to allow us to fearlessly ride the wave of progress by availing of 3D printing,” said Ira3D CEO Alessandro Padrin.
Drawpon Lab will be leveraging their in-house 3D printers developed by Ira3D to create the prototypes for all aspects of their high speed train project, and the 3D printer company has already produced the first model of the project. The 3D printed model was designed by a team of engineers from Drawpon Lab and was 3D printed using a combination of PLA and durable wooden filament, IraWood, on the Poetry Infinity 3D printer. The printer was fitted with a 0.4mm printer nozzle and it 3D printed the train model in about fourteen hours at a rate of 120mm/sec. The 3D printed model was post-processed using a combination of white cement to smooth the surface and then a coating of high-quality modelling paint.
“We can’t wait to start this project with Ira3D. Our companies share the same ideal to promote development and positive growth around the world, starting with home technology. I hope this synergy-based project between professional designers and the highest performing 3D printers can act as a catalyst for further initiatives intended to promote a design and prototyping system in the industrial design sector and further afield. The extraordinary ability of the Poetry Infinity 3D printer is a fundamental pillar of any project developed by Drawpon Lab, together with Ira3D and we are committed to investing in advancing technology,” said Drawpon Lab CEO Matteo Cibelli.
Here is some video of the Poetry Infinity 3D printer using IraWood filament:
“Our attitude is one of responsible growth, presenting technology that protects and creates advantages in the community, the fulcrum of Ira3D’s commitment in China. The Viper project goes beyond 3D modelling of a high speed train, but also represents Ira3D’s support for progress all around the world. 3D printing has sensational power. With the Viper project, we demonstrated how it is capable of connecting different realities thousands of kilometres apart, simply using a 3D printer,” continued Ira3D’s Padrin.
Ira3D regularly collaborates with fellow Italian company Drawpon Labs on their international industrial design projects, and their 3D printers play a key role in the company’s fast, web-based design process. Ira3D has been quickly expanding their global reach this last year and the small Italian startup has already grown to more than 25 employees with over 100 distributors all over the world. They currently sell their high-speed, large volume (250 x 250 x 300 mm [9.8 x 9.8 x 11.8 inch]) desktop 3D printers in more than 26 countries throughout the world, primarily in the European and Asian markets. The Poetry Infinity 3D printer currently retails for € 2489 ($2710) and is capable of using dozens of materials, including ABS, PLA, Nylon and a wide range of advanced filaments. Discuss this project in the 3D Printed High Speed Train forum over at 3DPB.com.