Manufacturing AUTOMATION

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Mohawk College launches Additive Manufacturing Resource Centre


September 29, 2014
By Mary Del


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Sept. 29, 2014 – Mohawk College of Applied Arts and Technology in Hamilton, Ont., has opened an Additive Manufacturing Resource Centre at its Fennell Campus.

The 1,500-square-foot facility, made possible by grants from the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Ontario Research Fund, is a resource for both students and industry to explore the opportunities in 3D printing and additive manufacturing — in both metal and plastic. Students and industry partners will have the opportunity to print 3D models, prototypes, tooling and production parts, and test variations in a part’s shape, weight, thickness and density. They’ll be able to explore both design and manufacturing techniques in additive manufacturing.

“What sets us apart is the technology and the sophistication in the equipment we’ve got on the shop floor,” Robert Gerritsen, professor in the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering Technology, told Manufacturing AUTOMATION during a private tour of the facility.  

Their “pride and joy” is an EOS M280 direct metal laser sintering machine, which has the capability of producing parts out of stainless steel, chrome, titanium, nickel, aluminum and other metals. The college says they are one of two academic institutions in Canada with direct metal laser sintering technology.

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The facility is also home to an EOS P395 selective laser sintering machine, which has the capability of producing parts in polyamide, polystyrene and thermoplastics. A Stratasys FDM printer and state-of-the-art design tools, as well as other additive accessories, are also in the lab.

The centre offers services where industry partners can explore rapid prototyping, reverse engineering and e-manufacturing.

“The industry who don’t have access to large amounts of capital or to one of these machines personally, can come in here and explore … whether or not they can make an existing part in additive manufacturing and see if they can be competitive, or take a new design or a part that has multiple components to it and make it as one as opposed to multiple parts,” says Tony Thoma, dean of Engineering Technology at Mohawk College. “The advantages are: you can be quick to market; you can avoid the cost of tooling and machining operations; [and] you can keep the drawings and your intellectual property in house.”

The mechanical engineering technology program at the college is including the centre in its curriculum, and designing course material around the lab. It will not only help students in the program gain valuable experience in the field, but it opens up opportunities for them to work with industry, and get co-op or part-time positions in their field, Thoma says.

“Our students will be ready when they graduate to design parts for additive manufacturing, know the difference between the pros and cons, and know when it’s appropriate to design a part for additive manufacturing versus traditional. And many of the companies have to learn this as well. Where’s the break-even point between saying that you want to make a part using additive manufacturing versus traditional methods? That’s where the key is from an economic point of view,” says Thoma.

Gerritsen adds, “Our primary focus here at Mohawk College is to prepare future-ready students. We are fulfilling that commitment by bringing in industrial-strength, state-of-the-art technology so that we prepare those students for a career out in industry, out in the field, where they’ve been exposed to the kind of technologies — additive manufacturing in this case — that they may be very well working with out in industry, out in the real world. We are looking at turning out the next crop of engineers and designers that understand additive manufacturing, understand the advantages, understand the limitations [and] understand the idiosyncrasies of that particular process.”

For more information, or to arrange a tour of the facility, contact Tony Thoma (tony.thoma@mohawkcollege.ca) or Robert Gerritsen (robert.gerritsen@mohawkcollege.ca).

To learn more about the Additive Manufacturing Resource Centre and the benefits to the industry and the students, click here to view an an on-camera interview with Tony Thoma.

To learn more about the technology in the lab, click here to view an on-camera interview with Robert Gerritsen.