Large format metal printing innovation

WAAM3D, a company founded by a research team from Cranfield University, has launched a next generation large format 3D metal additive printing platform - RoboWAAM.

The new 3D Printer with sensing hardware and proprietary software increases the potential for multi-metre metallic part development in aerospace, defence, oil and gas and research sectors.

The platform was awarded first place in the TCT 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing Awards, non-polymer hardware category, this week.

WAAM3D is already a leader in large-scale metal additive manufacturing, thanks to the depth of research on which the company is built. The institution has been pioneering research and development in the field of Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM) since 2006.

With the launch of the company’s new RoboWAAM platform the potential for large format 3D metal additive printing has grown significantly.

One innovative hardware feature in RoboWAAM, seen for the first time in large format metal additive printing, is Real time ShapeTechTM. This is a brand-new interferometric sensor which reconstructs the 3D profile of the deposited structure, extracting the layer height value all around the component. It gives immediate confidence in the consistency of deposition and in the achievement of key geometrical targets, whilst printing is in progress, eliminating the need for lengthy laser scans or touch-probe quality checks.

Other new features include: Double-point temperature measurement capability - leading the deposition to ensure consistent printing conditions; and trailing the deposition for in-process parameters checks; Electronic wire positioning for increased process stability; Fume Management System (FMSTM) with onboard fume confinement, filtration, and treatment; Global shielding for deposition of reactive materials with fully automatic purging, atmosphere maintenance, and evacuation cycles, with the alternative of a new local shielding option for out-of-chamber deposition; A process camera for remote melt-pool imaging, combined with CCTV for safe machine supervision; Bulk wire storage and large spool capability (70 kg), for longer uptimes and reduced operator’s intervention and standalone plug and play installation on the shopfloor with full health and safety compliance.

The RoboWAAM system is fed and controlled by WAAM3D’s own software suite, built on four fundamental functions:

  • WAAMPlanner which turns a parts pre-form into executable RoboWAAM code. It includes planar and non-planar slicing, 2D and 3D sectioning, and layer grouping. It is capable of best-in-class tool-path-planning with dedicated AM approaches and multi-material and multi-process capability
  • WAAMKeys, which eliminates defects and keeps the layer height under control. It carries out automatic parameter calculations, with advanced thermal compensation modules to achieve a target layer height, regardless of changes in geometrical features
  • WAAMSim, which is simulation software that enables the visualisation of RoboWAAM’s deposition environment. It includes a virtual, gaming-inspired environment for collision detection and offline tool-path-plan validation
  • WAAMCtrl which is an all-encompassing operating system for RoboWAAM. It incorporates an operator’s dashboard, the component’s digital twin, interactive data navigation, and historical database with complete printing process record (parameter by parameter including all dependent variables such as temperature and shape), seamlessly integrated onto WAAM3D’s hardware and sensors

Filomeno Martina, CEO and co-founder of WAAM3D commented: “With the launch of RoboWAAM, we have taken the production of large format 3D metal additive printing to the next level. RoboWAAM is capable of processing virtually any material available in the form of wire and it has a maximum build envelope of 2m x 2m x 2m. This makes it the ideal 3D printing option for new as well as repaired metal components that require high structural integrity, cost-effectively.  To find out we’ve won the prestigious TCT Award right on launch is a welcome surprise too.”




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