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TWI Promotes Additive Manufacturing in England

Introduction

TWI has completed a successful technology transfer project to promote the use of additive manufacturing (AM) to companies across England.

The project, which ran from 1 December, 2016, to 31 March, 2019, was funded by the Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative (AMSCI).

Objectives

The aim of the additive manufacturing technology transfer (AM-TT) project was to help 60 companies across England to investigate or develop the use of metal additive manufacturing as part of their processes.

Metal additive manufacturing – often called metal 3D printing – is a fabrication method whereby a part is created from a computer model with the material built up layer-by-layer. Processes promoted as part of the project included selective laser melting (SLM) and laser metal deposition (LMD), with support provided by the TWI Technology Centre in Rotherham and TWI’s main site near Cambridge.

The project not only sought to promote the use of metal additive manufacturing, but also aimed to safeguard or create jobs across England, while other aspects of the funding focused on eLearning and training in additive manufacturing.

Solution

TWI Project Manager Nick Elbourn organised for expert colleagues to visit interested businesses to assess their requirements and determine how AM could benefit them.

These assessments either optimised and developed existing AM capabilities or, in other instances, introduced the process and identified areas where additive manufacturing could be used.

There was also scope for TWI to produce test products at the Rotherham Technology Centre which could demonstrate the potential of AM as a process. From here, interested companies were advised on how to progress with AM.

Conclusion

The project not only helped promote additive manufacturing, but also created or safeguarded 100 jobs. By helping large businesses and SMEs, TWI was able to help shorten lead times for manufacture or prototyping, and show how highly complex parts could be produced to near-net-shape with a significantly reduced need for machining or finishing. Companies supported also highlighted other benefits including reduction in risk and production costs, increased profitability and environmental wins in lower waste, power consumption and materials usage.

Speaking on the project, TWI Project Leader Roger Fairclough said, “As one of the TWI engineers who has been implementing the AM-TT project by visiting companies and discussing the technology, I have been extremely encouraged in the way that companies have really shown interest and developed their use of additive manufacture during the project. TWI has been able to produce a variety of demonstration pieces 'in the metal' that can be handled and inspected, which have shown in exact detail how additive manufacture can be used in a wide variety of different industries and applications.”

TWI received lots of positive feedback from the technology transfer project, including:

  • “Opening opportunities for new business. Helped future thinking”
  • “Fantastic service and facilities”
  • “Contributed to knowledge and understanding of AM, leading to a strengthened capability. This has helped lay the foundations for a move into AM production”
  • “Provided a springboard for further work. The output of the support was put to work with a customer who was delighted. Now having work done by AM as a result of project support.”
  • “The company is now keen to take AM further”

 

You can find out more about additive manufacturing at TWI here.

Avatar Roger Fairclough Principal Project Leader - Laser Additive Layer Manufacture

Roger Fairclough holds a BEng(Hons) degree in Mechanical Engineering, having Chartered Engineer and European Engineer status and being a member of both the Institutions of Mechanical Engineers and of Welding. He is a Principal Project Leader at TWI, and involved with Laser Additive Layer Manufacture using both SLM and LMD processes. Over the last thirteen years he has managed a variety of projects for TWI designed to develop innovative ALM technologies for UK manufacturing companies. Roger has over forty years’ experience within the UK engineering industry, having worked in the mining, power generation, R & D and steel manufacturing sectors. Prior to working for TWI, he was Chief Engineer for an international company producing nickel superalloys and components for the aerospace and oil and gas industries.

For more information please email:


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