As part of celebrations marking 100 years of stainless steel, TWI Technology Centre (Yorkshire) was invited to assist in the production of the 2013 Made in Sheffield Awards. The Made in Sheffield committee had been keen to introduce a novel processing technique in the manufacture of its stainless steel trophies in this milestone year, and approached TWI to see if the proposed logo insert could be manufactured using Selective Laser Melting (SLM), an additive manufacturing technology.
TWI had been provided with a 3D CAD model of the insert, which it worked with as follows to manufacture the finished trophy using SLM technology and stainless steel powder. First an SLM wiper spread a powder layer uniformly across the build plate. Then a high power-density laser beam melted the pre-deposited powder layer. The melted particles fused and solidified to form a layer of the component. Each layer of the logo insert was sequentially built by depositing powder layers, one on top of the other, and melting their surface by scanning with a laser beam.
SLM is a developing area of technology with a number of benefits including low volume manufacture - it allows manufacture of short-run and highly customised components economically without expensive tooling. In addition it will accomplish any design change quickly and economically directly from a modified CAD model, also enabling high material usage, as all powder that is not fused to form the part can be recycled and re-used. A further advantage is in the design freedom it gives in the build of complex shapes and internal structures, which have been difficult to reproduce using conventional manufacturing techniques. These manufacturing advantages are already being exploited by a number of industry groups including the aerospace, medical and consumer sectors, who are actively working to develop SLM processing for specific applications.
The trophy for the Made in Sheffield Award was designed by Fripp Design and the base of the trophy manufactured by local Sheffield engineering firm Durham Duplex. TWI produced the insert on its SLM250 system at the TWI technology centre on the advanced manufacturing park in Rotherham.
The 2013 Awards took place on 18 April 2013 at the Cutlers Hall, Sheffield, and in total six awards were presented to local business recipients.
Please see our website for further information about Selective Laser Melting or contact us.