Delivering automated post-processing solutions for regulated industries

Rivelin Robotics is working to deliver a complete digital post-processing solution for the automated finishing of flight parts, orthopaedic implants and gas turbine components produced using metal additive manufacturing (AM) processes. Designated Project CAMPFIRE (Certified Additive Manufactured Parts Finished with Intelligent Robotics Engine), Rivelin is collaborating with five partners. Three are specific to post-processing applications for regulated industries using metal AM, namely Attenborough Medical, GKN Aerospace and Materials Solutions (a Siemens Energy Business). Two further partners are supporting with the delivery of key hardware technologies, namely YASKAWA EU and Saint-Gobain Abrasives.

Starting with the Project Leaders, Rivelin Robotics was founded to directly address the challenges of post-processing metal AM parts. Born of painful experience as an engineer tasked with removing metal supports from AM parts and achieving various levels of surface finish, Rivelin’s CEO — Robert Bush — established the company to develop a real and repeatable solution to the problems he faced, knowing that he was not alone.

The challenges with post-processing metal parts are many, not least the labour-intensive, time-consuming, filthy and sometimes dangerous activities involved in removing metal supports with hand tools. Believe it or not, this approach is the prevailing standard for post-processing most metal parts when they come off an AM system.

Three such companies, from three different regulated industries have been keen to work with Rivelin to test and implement the NetShape robots for their own applications. Project CAMPFIRE is providing a creative and collaborative way for this to move forward. Attenborough, GKN and Materials Solutions are all companies that have been dealing with the challenges of post processing metal AM parts for many years. Recognised as leaders in their respective fields these companies have adopted metal AM processes to harness the many benefits of the technology for the production of end use metal AM parts in their respective industries.

GKN Aerospace

GKN Aerospace is a world-leading Tier 1 supplier to the aerospace industries, with customers including Airbus, Rolls Royce and GE. GKN Aerospace has been maturing metal AM for over a decade working to develop and exploit the technology on both civil and military aerospace programmes, and has achieved a number of milestones in this process. Serial production of eBeam powder bed fusion (PBF) technology on a Military application has been achieved, with flying demonstration of Laser-PBF components, alongside EASA certification of L-PBF topology optimised brackets for a Business Jet Customer also being accomplished.

Project CAMPFIRE extends this expertise further down the AM process chain. The post-processing phase remains a barrier on a number of fronts, specifically productivity and reliable quality assurance for higher volumes of parts.

Materials Solutions

At Materials Solutions (a Siemens Energy business), the mission is to empower customers to meet the growing global demand for energy while transitioning to a more sustainable world.

“The use of metal AM as a production method for industrial gas turbine components is increasing rapidly,” according to Trevor Illston, Chief Manufacturing Engineer at Materials Solutions. “The major advantage of using AM is the ability to manufacture highly complex, optimised geometries that can increase the performance of the gas turbines. A good example of this is for stage 1 turbine vanes where the ability to design and manufacture highly complex internal cooling schemes has enabled vanes to be introduced with enhanced operational life, along with a significant reduction in cooling air requirements and allowed the use of more cost competitive turbine alloys.”

Attenborough Dental and Medical

Founded in 1913, Attenborough Medical is a leader in the UK medical manufacturing sector. Today, the company offers expert capabilities in 3D medical imaging, scanning and custom implant design & manufacture with ISO13485:2016, ISO9001:2015, DAMAS and IIP Accredition. Part of the same group, Attenborough Dental is a manufacturer of bespoke biomedical implants and has grown to become one of Europe’s largest dental laboratories, exporting across the world. As such the company is registered with The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

Rivelin Robotics has developed and supplies the innovative digital capabilities for this solution, but the full package also requires advanced hardware. While Rivelin’s Netshape capabilities are hardware agnostic, the company has partnered with advanced hardware suppliers for Project Campfire that enable the full solution to be delivered.

YASKAWA EU

As a world-leading industrial drives and robot arm manufacturer YASKAWA is a key partner for Rivelin and can also bring system integration capabilities to the collaboration. Through its European robotic manufacturing and system solution capabilities YASKAWA is delivering robot and positioner cell solutions directly to Rivelin. These are the capabilities that are being deployed for Project CAMPFIRE.

As Project CAMPFIRE moves forward with all partners fully engaged in working towards successful outcomes for their respective industrial applications, Robert Bush, CEO of Rivelin Robotics is excited by the progress that is being made: “Leading Project CAMPFIRE is a significant milestone for Rivelin Robotics. Users of metal AM for production are unanimous in their demand for an automated solution for support removal and finishing. Regardless of the parts and how or where they will be used, the shared pain in getting those parts from the AM machine to the point of use is prevalent and engenders collaboration to solve the issues. This is exactly what Project CAMPFIRE aims to do and in the coming weeks and months we look forward to sharing deeper insights and key results.”

 

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