Progress

HyProCell realises automated manufacturing platforms that integrate highly flexible laser-based additive build processes with more conventional yet precise subtractive machining processes.

HyProCell can either build parts additively from scratch and finish them in a single operation or prepare parts by milling and add laser-based additive features achieving otherwise impossible shapes. Apart from producing new parts, existing parts can be repaired or improved by adding new details.

Figure 1 Conceptual overview of HyProCell

Figure 1 Conceptual overview of HyProCell

A conceptual overview of HyProCell (Figure 1) shows how raw materials may be processed to manufacture products. The part geometry, tool paths and laser scanning patterns are generated by CAx tools. Autonomous and cost effective system operation is achieved by connecting the various machines performing the manufacturing processes over a communication network that runs a manufacturing execution system (MES). The MES both triggers and controls the various manufacturing processes. The manufactured parts are transferred between machines by robotic systems, using specialised clamping systems. Quality inspection is carried out across the different manufacturing phases.

The concept is being validated in industrial pilot facilities by manufacturing parts to meet precise end-users’ requirements. Initially manufactured parts address the aerospace, energy and industrial equipment sectors.

The ultimate goal of HyProCell is to establish how these new types of automated additive manufacturing (AM) cells can enable efficient, flexible and high-throughput production of small lots.

 

Pilot facilities

HyProCell incorporates two of the most versatile laser-based additive manufacturing processes, namely Laser Beam Melting (LBM) and Laser Metal Deposition (LMD). The pilot facilities are organised accordingly. All cells benefit from common CAx tools, integration layer and MES.

 

  1. LBM pilot cell

The LBM pilot cell is installed in the facilities of Poly-Shape (Marseille area, FR) and Ramem (Madrid, ES). The former covers the entire process chain of additive and subtractive manufacturing with simple (3-axis) post-processing operations, while the latter conducts additional 5-axis post-processing on AM parts. Obviously, in a fully commercial deployment the elements of the cell could be merged into a single cell to reduce transportation costs.

The layout of the production cell at POLY-SHAPE is depicted in Figure 2.

Figure 2. LBM pilot at POLY-SHAPE

Figure 2. LBM pilot at POLY-SHAPE

The Adira Addcreator is the core component of the particular cell. It uses the novel Tiled Laser Melting (TLM) method, which differs from existing LBM processes by displacing a small chamber over the building area.

All machines within the cell are equipped with extremely precise repositioning clamping mechanisms (typically used in high precision industrial applications) provided by Erowa, which handle the parts under production.

Following the LBM-based AM process, the robot (Erowa ERD 500) transfers the produced part inside an especially designed dustbox to a dedicated cleaning station. At the cleaning station any remaining powder is removed from the part and safely captured, thus diminishing release of powder in the environment.

The part is then transferred by the robot to a 3-axis milling centre in order to bring the part’s surface to the required quality.

The part is then transferred by the robot to a 3-axis milling centre in order to bring the part’s surface to the required quality.

The dimensional accuracy of the part is controlled by a measuring machine performing automated 3D scans.

The part handling system is connected to a robotic storage and a loading station for loading new and extracting the finished parts by using a pallet system. The pallets are in the rack magazine (Erowa ERD 500).

The post-processing cell at RAMEM, which is depicted in (Figure 3) covers primarily polishing, milling and measurement processes. Similarly to the POLY-SHAPE cell, the machines are connected to a part handling robot system (Erowa ERD 250 XT) that transfers the partly completed LBM-based part (transferred from the Poly-Shape cell) from the loading station to various machines.

Figure 3. Schematic of the LBM post processing pilot at RAMEM.

Figure 3. Schematic of the LBM post processing pilot at RAMEM.

For clamping Erowa PCP power chuck is used, while the pallets are in the rack magazine.

Both, a 3+2 milling centre and a 5-axis milling centre are incorporated in the cell. The first is a DMG MORI DMU 50 ECO performing polishing and the second is a Makino D500 performing milling.  The machines are located opposite to each other and execute their work flow over their processes automatically using MES. Measurements are carried out manually with a measuring arm (FARO Quantum) in the loading station, and automatically with probes integrated in both machines.

The cell is complemented with a final verification step performed by a coordinate measuring machine (CMM) (not shown in Fig), which is located in a room with controlled temperature. This system measures the geometry of a part by sensing discrete points on its surface with a probe.

 

  1. LMD Pilot

The LMD pilot is based around the hybrid machine center HSTM 150 HD developed by Hamuel. The machine is located at Autodesk facilities (Birmingham, UK) and depicted in Figure 4. This combines high-precision and dynamic 5-axes simultaneous machining, LMD, in-process measuring, in-process control devices and adaptive milling.

Figure 4. Schematic of the LMD pilot at Autodesk.

Figure 4. Schematic of the LMD pilot at Autodesk.

Notably, the compact laser cladding head is stored in the machine’s tool magazine like all the other tools and is exchangeable using the tool gripper like any other available tool.

The powder supply system of the machine can simultaneously handle different powders. Switching between powder types, involves cleaning the power supply system.

HyProCell carried out work on developing the integration interface so as to enable the Hamuel hybrid machine to be integrated with the MES, CAx and monitoring modules.

A new mounting device was developed to clamp the bottom (base ring) of the part (nozzle ring) to the hybrid machine. LMD and milling, are used to create blades with connection pins to prepare for joining of a top ring, which is manually attached and welded, again using the machine’s LMD capabilities. A buffer storage capability has been added. A laser optical measuring system (from RENISHAW) has also been successfully mounted inside the machine.

The above hybrid system can be expanded by a 3D scanning system (from BCT), a CMM system and a fully automated part handling system to form an effective, high-end flexible manufacturing system.

Objectives

HyProCell’s general objectives are:

  • To develop and demonstrate a new concept of multiprocess production cell.
  • To implement them at industrial level and validate them in pilot facilities.

Challenges

HyProCell tackles both technological and industrial challenges, as it aims to implement lab validated technologies in industrial facilities.

HyProCell has direct technological and industrial impacts, as well as indirect environmental and social ones.

Impact

HyProCell has direct technological and industrial impacts, as well as indirect environmental and social ones. All of them are timely considering the need to increase Europe’s competitiveness in global markets, comply with environmental policies and creation of highly skilled jobs.

Innovation activities

The Project Innovation Activities are addressed through 8 Work Packages (WPs) to be executed over a 3 year period (1 Nov 2016 to 30 Oct 2019).