AMRC and UK start-up ‘join hands with Canada'

Posted on 05 Dec 2019 and read 921 times
AMRC and UK start-up ‘join hands with Canada'The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) has joined forces with a UK tech start-up and a global engineering giant in a transatlantic bid to ‘disrupt’ the $3 billion metal additive-manufacturing (AM) market by using artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics to carry out the labour-intensive removal of the support structures that are essential in AM.

The research team behind Project SALSA (Separation of Additive-Layer Supports by Automation) is developing an ‘agile and dexterous tool’ that will use robotics and machine vision to detect and remove supports from metal-additive parts, to ramp up productivity.

This Innovate UK-funded programme is part of a UK-Canada collaboration for research and development projects. SALSA is being led by Bristol-based tech start-up Additive Automations and involves partners Renishaw Canada, the National Research Council Canada and the AMRC.

Ben Fisher, senior project engineer for the AMRC’s Integrated Manufacturing Group (www.amrc.co.uk), said: “Support removal is a necessity for metal AM, and the aim of this project is to reduce the time it takes.

“The current method is manual and very time-consuming, and it can be a hazardous and toxic process for workers.

"This project will develop a tool that can separate additive-layer supports using robotics and machine vision, freeing up skilled technicians for higher-value tasks.”

Additive Automations’ founder Robert Bush says SALSA has the potential to be a ‘major disruptor’.

“The collaborative robotics market is worth $1 billion and growing at 50% a year.

“Artificial Intelligence in manufacturing is $1 billion and growing at 25%, while metal AM is an industry worth $3 billion and growing at 80% — one of the fastest-growing areas in engineering . . . However, the UK is seeing significantly slower adoption of additive manufacture than Germany, China, the USA and South Korea.

"UK manufacturing companies view it currently as having too many barriers to entry for full-scale production.

"Project SALSA’s objective is to develop a post-processing machine that gives UK industry the confidence, control and economics it needs to adopt this technology in full-scale production.

"SALSA will help to make metal additive manufacturing cost-effective, not just in the thousands of parts but into the tens of thousands.”

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