The complicated steel wheel and rail interaction on curve causes side wear on rail head. Thus, the cost of maintenance for the track on curve is significantly higher than that for track on a tangent. The objective of this research is to develop 3D printing technology for repairing the side wear. In this paper, the study examines induced residual thermal stresses on a rail during the cooling down process after 3D printing procedure using the coupled finite volume and finite element method for thermal and mechanical analysis respectively. The interface of the railhead and additive materials should conserve high stresses to prevent any crack initiation. Otherwise, the additive layer would likely shear off the rail due to crack propagation at the rail/additive interface. In the numerical analysis, a cut of 75-lb ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) worn rail is used as a specimen, for which a three-dimensional model is developed. The applied residual stresses, as a result of temperature gradient and thermal expansion coefficient mismatch between additive and rail materials, are investigated. At the beginning, the worn rail is at room temperature while the additive part is at a high initial temperature. Then, additive materials start to flow thermal energy into the worn rail and the ambient. The thermal distribution results from thermal analysis are then employed as thermal loads in the mechanical analysis to determine the von-Mises stress distribution as the decisive component. Then, the effect of preheating on residual stress distribution is studied. In this way, the thermo-mechanical analysis is repeated with an increase in railhead’s initial temperature. In thermal analysis, the temperature contours at different time steps for both the non-preheated and preheated cases indicate that preheating presents remarkably lower temperature gradient between rail and additive part and also represents a more gradual cooling down process to allow enough time for thermal expansion mismatch alignment. In mechanical analysis, the transversal von-Mises stress distribution at rail/additive interface is developed for all cases for comparison purposes. It is shown that preheating is a key factor to significantly reduce residual stresses by about 40% at all points along transversal direction of interface.

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