NSERC’s HI-AM network invests in EBM technology from GE Additive
June 26, 2019
The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), the British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF) and the University of British Columbia (UBC) have announced the acquisition of a GE Additive Arcam EBM Q20plus machine to bring Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing (EBAM) technology to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)’s Holistic Innovation Network. The Holistic Innovation in Additive Manufacturing (HI-AM) Network brings seven Canadian universities together to investigate the fundamental scientific issues associated with pre-fabrication, fabrication and post-fabrication of components by a range of AM technologies, with a primary focus on structural metals.
The HI-AM network is focused on the following four main areas of AM research: material development tailored with optimum process parameters; advanced process modelling and coupled component/process design; in-line monitoring/metrology and intelligent process control strategies; innovative AM processes and additively manufactured parts. Steve Cockcroft, a professor at the Advanced Materials Processing Group, UBC, his colleagues Dr Farzaneh Farhang Mehr, director of the university’s Additive Manufacturing laboratory, and Professors Daan Maijer, Chad Sinclair, Yusuf Altintas and Rizhi Wang, state that they are focused primarily on advanced process modelling and in-line monitoring/metrology.
NSERC believes that the UBC is the first university in Canada to incorporate a GE Additive Arcam Q20plus system in a research environment, and the only facility to have installed a machine of its type on the North American west coast. The addition of the Q20plus system will support the team at UBC in developing efficient numerical models that will aid in the simulation of different aspects of the Electron Beam Powder Bed Fusion (E-PBF) process.
Key focus areas will include electron beam-powder/melt pool energy transport and consolidation and macro-scale energy transport and thermal-stress induced component deformation. The outcome is expected to significantly impact process productivity, part quality and component quality, enabling and supporting the adoption of electron beam technology in the aerospace, automotive transportation and medical sectors. NSERC expects that the Q20plus will enable the UBC team to not only perform basic research, but to demonstrate the capabilities of this technology to local industries and potential end-users.
Prof Cockcroft stated, “Additive (3D) metal printing will significantly expand the capabilities of what we can manufacture using structural metals. In the transportation sector, this opens up new opportunities for light-weighting and improving the efficiencies of aero-propulsion systems and automotive drivetrains – including both electric and convention heat engines. In the bio-medical sector, this technology will allow medical practitioners to customise the geometry of skeletal implants to an individual’s anatomy and utilise materials that are more compatible with biological systems, thus substantially improving patient outcomes.”
“The Arcam EBM Q20Plus machine is a unique piece of equipment,” commented Dr Mehr. “We hope to create an Additive Manufacturing laboratory at UBC in which users are not only encouraged to explore the capabilities of the equipment, but also get the chance to acquire a fundamental understanding of the AM process, which is necessary to enable major breakthroughs in the field. We would like to introduce this technology to a wide variety of users including undergraduate students as a part of their course work, graduate students as a core part of their thesis research and our industrial partners, as a way of supporting them as they explore this exciting new technology.”
Dr Behrang Poorganji, Director of Materials Technology at UBC and a member of the HI-AM network’s scientific advisory board, reported, “Materials scientists are working hard to answer questions that solve some of the challenges that additive presents. At the same time, they are looking further afield to anticipate and respond to future requirements. To set scientists up for success, we need to put the best technology and innovation in the hands of faculty and researchers. The Arcam EBM A2X system has long been a popular choice with the research community globally, so now we’re excited to see how Steve and Farzaneh will put the Q20plus through its paces and look forward to seeing the exciting outcomes of their research.”