Businesses across the Leeds City Region involved in innovative product development now have access to metal additive manufacture (AM or 3D printing), imaging and microscopy as the 3M Buckley Innovation Centre (3M BIC) announces the availability of its new advanced technologies.
Now available at the 3M BIC on Firth Street, Huddersfield, the new technologies will enable businesses to consider adopting additive manufacture and to print protoypes in metals such as titanium and stainless steel, as well as check for inaccuracies in products.
The new pieces of equipment are part of investment through the Huddersfield Innovation and Incubation Project (HIIP), a £2.9m grant from the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Growth Deal – a £1bn package of government investment to accelerate growth and create jobs across Leeds City Region.
AM in metals is becoming a method of choice for some major manufacturers, particularly in high-value, low-volume industries such as specialist automotive, motorsport, aerospace, medical devices, dentistry and jewellery and is becoming increasingly widespread in the UK and elsewhere.
Renishaw, a leading UK based engineering and technology company, has supplied the 3M BIC with its RenAM 400 and RenAM 500M selective laser melting (SLM) systems, the former will print in stainless steel (316L), the latter in titanium. The RenAM 500M is also fitted with advanced in-process monitoring abilities making it possible to view and analyse a build for consistency or anomalies in real time. Both systems will accept a reduced build volume permitting builds of smaller parts in other metals such as aluminium, nickel, Inconel or other alloys.
The two metal AM printers will complement the centre’s existing 3D printing technologies and will allow businesses to perfect their product in less costly polymers before committing to printing in metal.
As part of the product development and verification process, businesses can also access a range of technologies in its new Zeiss Imaging Suite. Equipment includes microscopes for biological studies and part investigations and the Nikon X-Ray CT for the precision measurement of internal and external features of a component to ensure correct dimensions and internal features are present and anomalies such as stress cracks are not present.
Michael Wilson, 3M BIC centre manager and HIIP director, said: “Metal AM is becoming a major addition to a manufacturer’s arsenal and will be of great benefit to businesses across the region, as well as the microscopy and imaging equipment.
“All are great tools for product development, so we’re excited to be able to include them as part of our overall technology offering. We can now offer the whole package, from prototyping in plastics and metals to correcting stress fractures or imperfections in products. Businesses will be able to ensure their new products are cutting edge and safe before they embark on large scale production.”