Canada is planning a research facility dedicated to 3D printing of metal-based parts, a rapidly growing technology offering significant potential for the automotive industry.
The industry is one of the pioneers in the use of 3D printing at all stages of vehicle production from prototyping, design and tooling production to parts manufacturing.
The National Research Council of Canada says as the emerging cold spray additive manufacturing (CSAM) technology – commonly known as 3D printing – is used by more sectors of the Canadian economy, industrial-scale demonstrations are needed to help assess its full potential.
The NRC and Polycontrols, a Quebec-based company specializing in surface engineering equipment integration, are to build a research facility to help manufacturers and researchers study, adopt and deploy the technology. Expected to open next February, the Poly/CSAM facility will be located at the NRC’s Boucherville site in Quebec.
Polycontrols operations vice president Luc Pouliot says the company is launching the first phase of the initiative with an initial investment estimated at C$4 million ($3.1 million) over the next six years.
It will focus on scaling up the CSAM process by helping industry adapt laboratory-developed technology to meet factory and mass-production requirements.
The venture also will offer training for manufacturers to ensure the technology is implemented safely and securely.
The NRC will support technology development and provide strategic advice and technical services with a professional team of more than 40 experts.
Poly/CSAM will offer a combination of unique technologies such as surface preparation; coating and 3D buildup by cold spray; local, laser-based thermal treatment; in-situ robotic machining and surface finishing; state-of-the-art sensor technologies; extensive data logging and analytics; and machine learning.
NRC says metal additive manufacturing, with its high flexibility in design and physical properties, continues to influence the manufacturing sector by using new approaches to conceive, reduce material waste and bring products to market faster.
François Cordeau, NRC vice president-transportation and manufacturing, says the council acknowledges the value its collaboration with Polycontrols can offer the industry and Canada’s advanced manufacturing ecosystem.
Adds Pouliot, “Polycontrols is eager to showcase its capabilities as a large-scale manufacturing integrator offering custom equipment platforms with the objective of bringing disruptive technologies such as hybrid robotic manufacturing, data analytics and machine learning, supported by artificial intelligence, to the shop floor.”