Additive manufacturing (AM) has the potential to change the entire manufacturing enterprise by 2030. Substantial progress has been made in recent years; however, there are several remaining challenges hindering widespread industry adoption: (1) the need for an expanded range of feedstock metal materials; (2) the need for health and safety criteria for handling AM metal powders; (3) the need for faster build rates and greater build volumes; (4) the need for increased process repeatability and reliability; (5) the need for better part surface quality; (6) the need for greater education on design practices; (6) and the need for uniform standards for the certification of AM parts.
The NSERC/CFI Holistic Innovation in Additive Manufacturing (HI-AM) Network has been conceived to work on innovative solutions to address these challenges and to equip Canada for the era of Industry 4.0 and “digital-to-physical conversion.” With major investment from NSERC and CFI, the Network will investigate fundamental scientific issues associated with AM pre-fabrication, fabrication, and post-fabrication processing. It enables collaboration between Canada’s leading research groups in advanced materials processing and characterization, powder synthesis, alloy development, advanced process simulation and modeling, precision tool-path planning, controls sensing, and applications.
The University of Waterloo hosts the NSERC HI-AM Network, bringing together nineteen leading experts from seven universities across Canada. These researchers and their teams share ideas, innovations, and access to the necessary advanced research infrastructure and devices essential for holistic AM experiments.
HI-AM’s fourteen initial private sector partners demonstrate the broad impact potential of AM technology and the need for a collaborative approach. These partners include natural resource and energy firms, tooling and part repair specialists, and software developers, as well as major aerospace, automotive, and biomedical device manufacturers. These research-driven partnerships will ensure Network results are directly applicable to manufacturing in Canada and globally, so innovations can be rapidly transferred to, and implemented by industry.
HI-AM is the first national academic additive manufacturing initiative in Canada. The timing is critical, with the global market for AM expected to quintuple by 2020. The proposed Network builds the partnerships, develops the intellectual property, and trains the highly skilled people Canada needs to compete in this crucial arena of advanced manufacturing.