AM brake caliper with integrated sensors for measuring braking force and temperature.

Fraunhofer ILT leverages 3D printed Sensetrain AI Sensor

Scientists from the Fraunhofer ILT are producing 3D-printed sensor systems able to intelligently manage train parts.


Collaborating with industry partners and leveraging funding from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Technology, Fraunhofer is creating SenseTrain, an AI-powered sensor system that would wirelessly and repeatedly monitor the condition of 3D-printed parts.
Potential applications for the sensor-integrated technology include train door mechanisms, wheelset bearing caps, and primary and yaw dumpers.
The end game for the AI-powered sensor is for it to signal if, when, and where a repair or replacement is required.

Fraunhofer ILT Monitoring with Sensetrain

Fraunhofer ILT

SenseTrain is a way of effectively and intelligently monitoring safety-relevant functions in railway engineering; this would include train door and chassis components.


The industry partners partnering with Fraunhofer ILT for the project include ME-Meßsystemea component integrated sensor developing company, transport software creator Vedisys and prognostics system developer DATAbility


The project started back in September, and all partners will work on SenseTrain’s development and optimization until 2024. The project is being worked on at DB Systemtechnik, the largest European competence centre for railway technology, and aims to set the course for intelligent maintenance of the European rail network.


The project aims to develop a comprehensive process of wirelessly and repetitively monitoring the condition of sensor-integrated 3D-printed parts from sensor technology through to reporting to Deutsche Bahn AG’s SAP system.


An example of this could, in later times, involve sensors in the chassis and doors of a train reaching the SAP system of Deutsche BAHN AG through 5G. and reporting defects before occurrence.


A cause of delay in operations that could inconvenience passengers is defective rai components,
However, replacing components that are still in working order at regular maintenance periods is neither economical nor ecological.
The SenseTrAIn project partners are aiming to solve these issues with their AI-powered sensor-integrated technology.

Sensor-integrated Additive technology


Powder bed fusion additive manufacturing technology is being leveraged by the project partners to fabricate the sensor-embedded parts.


PLBF ensures electrical components such as actuators and sensors are integrated into metallic parts by pausing the printing process at a particular point to integrate sensors into the components before continuing.


Components identified as potential applications for SenseTrain include door mechanisms, primary and yaw dampers, and wheelset bearing clamps, which close off wheel bearing housings.


Wheelset bearing caps are crucial parts from a maintenance point of view, as additional loads can cause temperature increases and a greater risk of wear.


Through SenseTrAIn, temperature and acceleration sensors integrated into the cover could detect hot runners and their causes at an early stage.


To ensure the project’s success, the Fraunhofer researchers have noted the need for a large, valid database to optimize the AI-sensor combination. The ILT scientists are using the Trainlab of Deutsche Bahn Technik to test the new sensor technology under realistic everyday conditions.


The information acquired from this research will be used to train the AI, before partners begin testing the system in day-to-day operations.

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