Using a multi-disciplinary approach, the aim of IAM-3DPO: Intelligent advanced additive manufacturing–enabling dynamic process efficiency, is to create a novel, integrated, advanced, laser-based system capable of achieving both zero distortion and defects during the 2D build process, when using LPBF to produce metal additively manufactured components.
Having come up with the idea for the IAM-3DPO concept, in order to progress it further into a viable project, the J4IC team put their heads together with TWI’s Technology Innovation Management (TIM) team, so that they could assist them with identifying a suitable grant funding stream (also known as a ‘call’) and putting together a consortium of partners with the necessary, complementary skills and experience to progress the technology idea into a full-blown proposal for submission to the call competition.
As well as providing this type of input to TWI’s Innovation Centres and Technical Sections when they are seeking to advance a new collaborative project, the TIM team also works with TWI Innovation Network (TWIIN) SME Members to help them accelerate their business and technology development, through identifying suitable collaborative projects they have the potential to join the consortia of. When looking at the range of technologies involved in IAM-3DPO and which companies could best support J4IC on the funding bid, they identified NquiringMinds as being an ideal fit for the data analytics and machine learning expertise required on the project. In addition, NquiringMinds had already been involved in previous collaborative projects with other partners so the TIM team were confident that the company would be able to hit the ground running.
The TIM team also recruited the other consortium members for the project, namely ThinkLaser, Materialise and TRUMPF Laser UK, supported all partners with budget preparation, and finally submitted their collective proposal to the Innovate UK’s EUREKA R&D: SMART Advanced Manufacturing grant competition via the EUREKA and Innovation Funding Service (IFS) portal.
There is increasing demand for metal AM in the AM market, but its application is being impeded by a number of technical challenges that occur when producing parts through LPBF. Defects can be caused by residual stress, structural distortion, cracking (solidification and hot), lack of fusion, porosity or thermal dissipation. In addition, multiple processing steps are required to obtain the final product, the cost of materials is high affecting adoption, component size is limited, and metal components require the use of multi-materials with varied physical and chemical properties.