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Project for finishing 3-D printed parts

Posted on 09 Apr 2024 and read 544 times
Project for finishing 3-D printed partsSheffield-based Rivelin Robotics is currently leading a funded project that aims to deliver automated finishing of flight parts, orthopaedic implants, and gas turbine components produced using metal additive manufacturing (AM) processes.

The project is part of UK Research and Innovation’s MSI Challenge, delivered by Innovate UK, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, and the Economic and Social Research Council. It is one of 11 projects to receive grants, totalling £3.7 million, awarded to late-stage robotics and automation projects ‘with a focus on developing solutions to improve productivity, sustainability and resilience within factory production areas’.

Designated Project Campfire (Certified Additive Manufactured Parts Finished with Intelligent Robotics Engine), it will see the team at Rivelin working with partners and collaborators that include GKN Aerospace, Materials Solutions (a Siemens Energy Business), and Attenborough Medical; along with Yaskawa EU and Saint-Gobain as partners on the supplier side.

Proven in industrial settings

The post-processing of metal AM parts is well known for causing a bottleneck in the production of end-use parts, particularly at scale. Rivelin’s Netshape Robots, which use 3-D vision and force control algorithms, have already been proven in industrial settings since their launch in 2022. This project is set to demonstrate the capabilities of Netshape Robots at the next level, with the potential to ‘revolutionise tightly regulated industries’ (such as aerospace, medical and energy, as well as civil aerospace, defence and automotive) and unlock growth and investments in automation and AM.

Rivelin Robotics CEO Robert Bush said: “The support from Innovate UK has been pivotal in accelerating Rivelin Robotics’ journey. The funding not only catalyses the development of our innovative platform, but also empowers us to tackle complex challenges in additive manufacturing. This grant is a key enabler in our mission to revolutionise robotic finishing of near-net-shape parts, enhancing the UK’s position in advanced manufacturing.”

With a 15-month run time, the goals of project Campfire seek to automate the manual, dirty, and time-intensive metal support removal process. This alone, according to key stakeholders, would be a primary enabler in achieving a more competitive business case for AM components.