"Additive manufacturing (AM) has gained significant interests from industries of different sectors. Among different AM processes, Wire + Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM), which used metal wire as feedstock and electric arc as a heat source, has been shown to be suitable for producing large scale components with comparatively low equipment cost and running cost. The WAAM process has been developed in Cranfield University for many years, many large components of different materials, including titanium alloys, aluminium alloys, nickel alloys as well as steels have been successfully built for industrial partners.
The end-user industries, such as Airbus, FMC technologies and Glemalmond Group see significant benefits presented by the WAAM process to be able to manufacture structural components in a short lead time with low cost. Kuka Systems sees the great opportunity to get the forefront of this technology and to get the business benefit from commercialisation of the first WAAM machine. The main target of this project is to develop a commercial robotic WAAM machine (ROBOWAAM) that can be used by industrial partners for building meter scale components. Cranfield University will integrate its extensive WAAM process knowledge into a feature- based path planning software to support the end-users to manufacture components for their applications. In additional an online feedback control system will be developed and integrated into ROBOWAAM machine to correct build height errors.
To assure the deposition quality of the part, in-process nondestructive testing (NDT) method needs to be applied. Usually NDT is applied after the components has been finished. It is a time consuming and costly process if a defect is found which would either require a repair procedure or may lead to scrapping of the part. Thus an in-process NDT method is required to for inspecting each layer of the deposition. If a defect is found then the current layer will need to be machined before the recommence of the deposition. Cranfield University will collaborate with the University of Strathclyde and Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC) on a feasibility study of the in-process NDT method on the WAAM parts with existing NDT technologies. The in-process NDT will be incorporated with the WAAM process into a parallel processing system and the capability of this system will be demonstrated in this project.
In addition, an extended study will be performed on the automation requirements of the whole WAAM chain. This will include the pre-WAAM processes such as substrate cleaning, post-WAAM process such as heat treatment and final machining, parallel processes such as in-process NDT and top surface machining, as well as material manipulation between processes."