We Have A Sponsor: i2M

We are proud to say we have gained an official sponsor, please welcome Innovate 2 Make Ltd (i2M) to the team!

logo-i2m

From their website:

i2M was formed in 2012 and established a machine-independent Additive Manufacturing (AM) based manufacturing facility. They recognise the need to provide clear open access to this exciting new technology and have already helped a number of major manufacturing companies to adopt AM into their production processes. These initial projects have proven the acceptance readiness for AM technology.

AM offers a new approach to manufacturing complex structures in a wide range of materials (Aluminium, Titanium, Inconel and Stainless Steel, etc.), and the process works directly from the Computer Aided Design model (3D CAD). It orients the components and slices the CAD data into layers which are then drawn in the build chamber using a Ytterbium fibre laser onto a powder bed containing fine metallic particles (Powder). Each layer is “grown” together to produce the final component.

3D printing in metal has some big advantages over traditional machining methods for parts with complex shapes. You know, complex shapes like this:

Vulcain engine cross-section

Thrust chamber of the Vulcain rocket engine. The injector head at the top of the engine is difficult to manufacture. Obviously we’re looking at a slightly smaller scale than this!

The “old-fashioned” way of making a precision component like this could be called subtractive manufacturing – you start with a block of metal and cut away the parts you don’t need. For really complex shapes, it’s often impossible for the cutting tool to reach internal cavities like the inside of an injector, so the part has to be made out of smaller pieces joined together somehow. This takes longer to build, and is harder to do reliably! On the other hand, if you build up a part layer-by-layer using additive manufacturing, it’s possible to create the entire part in one go, since even intricate details like injectors can easily be “sliced” into layers and printed.

I2M are kind enough to print complex parts for us, in exchange for us supplying information for a case study (and of course they also get a cheeky bit of promotion)!

We hope the relationship is a fruitful one, and we look forward to working with them

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