Exclusive Look Inside Wabtec Additive Development Lab
Wabtec continues to invest in additive technologies and the Additive Development Lab at the Erie site is the prime example.
Additive manufacturing is the process of making any 3D object layer by layer.
Jen Coyne, Additive Manufacturing Leader is leading the Wabtec team that's rethinking how parts are engineered, and learning the potential of additive.
In Erie, they're making 3D parts, using a metal laser melting machine.
Starting with computer aided designs the parts are created layer by layer vertically.
A laser melts stainless steel powder into a finished product.
Coyne said the process is perfect for making prototypes of design ideas. "You can combine parts, you can do things with geometry that you’ve never been able to do before because of the technology and the method it produces...you can make something that used to be 1,000 parts like a heat exchanger, into one part."
The Additive Manufacturing group has delivered over 680 prototypes in the last 18 months to various engineering and manufacturing groups across Wabtec.
Additive technology takes the constraints off for design engineers giving the freedom to try new ideas. One project under development could create significant fuel savings for their locomotive customers.
They can also create obsolete parts for replacement or repair. "Maybe we’ve lost the tooling or that supplier has gone out of business," Jen Coyne said, "we can make low volume parts relatively easily without the investment of tooling."
And she said the long term intent is to produce parts. "We actually have five production parts going on locomotives this year and we have hopes to get 250 by 2025, so we see production in our future."