The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) based in South Africa and its industry partners, the Department of Science and Technology (DST), National Research Foundation (NRF), Aerospace Industry Support Initiative (AISI) and Aerosud, has announced the launch of a multimillion-rand Additive Manufacturing platform.
“This system will be the first of its kind in the world as it will be able to build parts with an envelope of 2 x ½ metres; this is critical when making components for the aerospace industry that require precision and high quality,” stated CSIR’s Prof Federico Sciammarella. “This system will place South Africa on the forefront of additive manufacturing technology and enable the aerospace industry to produce parts for the global community,” he added.
The CSIR in collaboration with Aerosud tabled a funding proposal to the DST to support the development of a high speed large area additive manufacturing (HSLA-AM) technology platform. The DST approved the funding proposal and allocated R28 million (US$ 3.7 million) to the CSIR and as part of this, the CSIR had to invest in a specialised laser source to the value of R10 million (US$ 1.3 million). The laser, which is part of the HSLA-AM system, has now arrived.
In addition to this, CSIR also secured grants from NRF and the dti’s AISI to invest in a research and development (R&D) facility to focus on powder blown Laser Metals Deposition additive manufacturing technology, or the Laser Engineered Net Shaping (LENS) technology. This piece of R&D equipment was procured from suppliers in United States and is being installed at NLC’s laboratories.
The LENS technology offers the opportunity to create 3-D parts without the need of any specialised tooling. It also has the capability to refurbish components. Refurbishment of industrial components is particularly important in the South African context. South Africa’s manufacturing industry relies on imported equipment and critical spares have to be kept in stock or be imported from overseas. Where high value parts are involved, manufacturing companies have to choose between expensive spare part inventories or the possible loss of production due to downtime while spare parts are being imported. The LENS offers the ability for companies to avoid those scenarios buy rebuilding their existing parts.
The Additive Manufacturing technology platform established at CSIR National Laser Centre is geared to support the strong partnerships that have been established by the Centre and its industry partners, specifically Aerosud. Through the technology platform, it is envisaged that South Africa will accelerate the beneficiation of local resources such as Titanium, which is of critical importance for the Aerospace industry.
Edited by: Paul Whittaker, Editor ipmd.net, [email protected]