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AMS Spring 2023

SABIC Debuts New 3D Printing Materials for Rail Industry

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Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) has announced a new, flame-retardant 3D printing material designed for use in the railway industry. The new material, LNP THERMOCOMP AM DC0041XA51, will be debut at Berlin’s InnoTrans 2022 (September 20th-23rd), along with a large front-hatch part printed by CAF Digital Manufacturing, a Spanish additive manufacturing (AM) service bureau.

According to SABIC, its new material has been independently tested, and deemed compliant with railway fire-safety standards in both the EU (standard EN45545) and the US (standard NFPA-130). As such, LNP THERMOCOMP AM DC0041XA51 is one of the first materials optimized for pellet-fed AM to be compliant with the rail industry’s latest global fire-safety regulations.

In a press release announcing the new 3D printing material, Luc Govaerts, the director of Formulation and Application Development, Specialties Business at SABIC, commented, “We developed our newest LNP THERMOCOMP AM compound to offer the rail industry a regulation-compliant solution that can be used for on-demand printing of large, complex exterior and interior parts in relatively small build numbers.” Lucas Esteban, operational manager of digital manufacturing at CAF, added, “[The new material’s] non-halogenated flame-retardant system addresses current sustainability trends, and its carbon fiber reinforcement and favorable processing allow us to make larger part geometries with sufficient stiffness and limited warpage.”

In addition to both interior and exterior parts, the material is also well-suited for printing large tools frequently used for rail parts production and rail repair. As in other heavy industrial and transportation sectors, where more and more companies have been led to adopt AM due to the particularly high cost of replacement inventory, SABIC argues that rail companies could see significant cost reductions by turning to printing with LNP THERMOCOMP AM.

At InnoTrans, SABIC will also debut two other materials: LNP ELCRES FST2734E copolymer, and LNP ELCRIN FST2734EB, a version of the first composed of 55 percent renewable feedstock. Both of the materials meet the same EU fire-safety standard mentioned above, and are considered ideal for rail interiors.

The use of AM for planes, cars, ships, and rockets seems to get more attention than AM applications for rail. However, rail should be an increasingly attractive market for the AM sector, owing to the significance of rail transport to essentially all commerce, the constant equipment repairs required, and the rail industry’s seemingly endless vulnerability to work stoppages. Fraunhofer ILT, among others, seems highly interested in developing 3D printed rail applications, making Berlin a fitting choice of location for SABIC to debut the new materials.

Moreover, Saudi Arabia’s pledge earlier this year to triple its rail capacity means that the materials could be just as important to domestic as to international markets. Given that Saudi Aramco owns 70 percent of SABIC, this likely provides some of the rationale behind the company’s interest in the rail industry. Considering the Kingdom’s attempt to pitch itself on the global stage as being in the midst of a comprehensive transformation, SABIC’s delves into cutting-edge tech are always worth keeping an eye on.

Images courtesy of SABIC

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