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Large Additive Subtractive Integrated Modular Machine

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - LASIMM (Large Additive Subtractive Integrated Modular Machine)

Reporting period: 2018-04-01 to 2019-09-30

Create a multiple-robot modular machine integrating both Metal Additive Manufacturing and machining functions and the capability of producing large components directly from a CAD drawing were the challenges that the LASIMM (Large Additive Subtractive Integrated Modular Machine) project partners took head-on. The end result is a fully functional machine that includes advanced software to manage all the complex production process, integrating both Wire + Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM) technology as well as other advanced manufacturing processes and robotics that allow it to produce metal components up to 6 meters long and 2 meters wide. To assess its feasibility in real-world scenarios, the LASIMM project has tested the production of aluminium and steel components, bringing this concept one step closer to mainstream use. The test results from the different end users showed the potential and capabilities of combining Additive Manufacturing and Subtractive Manufacturing, also known as Hybrid Manufacturing, into one single machine in order to produce large components.
In order to produce large scale engineering structures, the material needs to be deposited at a relatively high rate. To achieve such result, the deposition process selected for the LASIMM machine is based on Wire + Arc Additive Manufacture (WAAM). Another unique feature of the machine is its capability for parallel manufacturing, featuring either multiple deposition heads or concurrent addition and subtraction processes. This parallel manufacturing process was made possible by using a machine architecture based on robotics.
On the Subtractive Manufacturing and to ensure that the surface finish and accuracy needed for an engineering component is obtained, a parallel kinematic motion (PKM) robot was employed for the subtractive step. The flexibility of the PKM robot was also critical to ensure that the challenging process of machining an Additive Manufactured part was achievable. This robot also demonstrated capabilities that allowed its use in the application of cold work by rolling between passes. An important step to ensure that material properties can outperform those of a forged material.
Another key part of this project was the development of the ICT infrastructure and toolboxes required to programme and run the machine. The implementation of parallel manufacturing was extremely challenging from a software perspective, required a strong focus within the project and is one of the major outcomes of the project.

The LASIMM project also evaluated additional features, such as cold-work, in-line inspection, such as non-destructive testing (NDT), in-situ alloying, Titanium alloy deposition, high deposition rate processes and multi-material capability that can be added into the machine emphasizing once again the machine modular capability. This possibility gives the machine a unique and innovative solution, non-existent so far on hybrid platforms currently available on the market, that is closely aligned with costumers’ needs.
Industries face new challenges, among them customization and build-to-order, and manufacturing technologies need to be flexible to meet customer requirements without the need to develop new and expensive customized machines. The modular approach of the machine’s system architecture enables flexible reconfiguration of the machine, making it possible to adapt to the individual customer requirements but using the same type of machine architecture and by doing so decreasing the overall cost of the machine.

Where does LASIMM goes from here?
The next step of LASIMM is to become market ready. For this it is estimated that in one-year time a complete modular hybrid cell will be ready for commercial distribution. This will allow companies wanting to move from conventional manufacturing to Hybrid manufacturing to have a solution in the market, for large parts, that is suitable to each individual company requirements. Being by having more robots depositing, to increase the deposition rate, or by having all the necessary modules to deposit Titanium, in order to manufacture Titanium parts, we are sure that there is a LASIMM machine for any industrial application where a modular Hybrid machine is the right solution.