Robotic WAAM for large-scale certified metal parts

OPTIMIZED TRUSS

A set of optimized metal trusses has been 3D-printed with robotic WAAM based on an end-to-end framework for additive manufacturing by the INTEGRADDE consortium. The optimization-initiated workflow incorporates detailed design and FE verification steps performed prior to additive manufacturing with robotic Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM).

This product-driven engineering approach combines test results, numerical simulation, and process parameters to optimize part design and configuration process. This approach for robotic 3D metal printing of large-scale metal parts offers an intelligent and innovative perspective for the future of the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry.

Together with the INTEGRADDE partners, MX3D has developed an innovative production strategy of continuous and integral control of the WAAM process, from product design to final verification, in-line quality assurance for the manufacturing of certified metal parts, and addressing mass customization manufacturing approach.

INTEGRADDE is one of the largest and most comprehensive EU-funded projects on industrial implementation of Direct Energy Disposition (DED) technologies. INTEGRADDE seeks the real application of additive manufacturing in the European industrial environment by involving 26 partners from 11 European countries.

The goal of INTEGRADDE is to develop a novel end-to-end solution and framework for the additive manufacture of optimized structures, paving the way towards certification and consistency in large-scale robotic Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM) and Laser Metal Deposition (LMD) in strategic metalworking sectors.

Together with the INTEGRADDE partners, MX3D has developed an innovative production strategy of continuous and integral control of the WAAM process, from product design to final verification, in-line quality assurance for the manufacturing of certified metal parts, and addressing mass customization manufacturing approach.

The bespoke, optimized and WAAM-printed truss offers an intelligent and innovative perspective for the future of the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry due to a mix of several benefits connected to WAAM: (a) smart manufacturing by decreasing operating costs and time to market, (b) delivering complex, customized and flexibility in design without increasing manufacturing costs, (c) reducing environmental impact by significantly lowering material use and waste, and (d) reducing of assembly time and costs. With these benefits, the INTEGRADDE truss shows a state-of-the-art optimized design that allows reconfiguration, large-scale projects, and adequate material performance.

MX3D (robotic 3D metal printing), together with its partners – Imperial College London (material and design validation) and LimitState Ltd (design optimization) – has carried out extensive research on WAAM printed low alloyed carbon steel for heavy load structural members with 500 kg of specimen for various destructive tests, 1 TB logged process data, 3 certified DPS’s (Deposit Procedure Specifications) and Artificial Intelligence predictive models, for online and offline process validation. The structural efficiency of each optimized structure (as measured by the capacity-to-mass ratio) was found to be at least two times that of the corresponding reference design.

A set of optimized trusses with a product-driven engineering approach combines test results, numerical simulation, and process parameters to optimize part design and configuration process. In the pilot line brought by MX3D, the INTEGRADDE methodology is applied to generate a family of different structural members as a demonstrator.

In compliance with the recommended AEC design guidelines, the truss design was done in collaboration with Imperial College London, the University of Sheffield, and LimitState. The CAD-optimization process took advantage of the layout optimization process offered by LimitState’s plug-in Peregrine. MX3D completed the digital fabrication planning and process through the company’s MetalXL Software and Control System and manufactured the 2.5-meter truss in low alloyed carbon steel. The possibility of processing each feature as an individual entity is key for establishing the most correct and efficient printing sequence and or specific printing attributes. Moreover, MetalXL includes real-time control and continuous monitoring by a complex system of sensors to support the operator with real-time feedback, high-resolution data logging, and advanced insights into the printing process for in-line quality and post-production analysis. These data logs and advanced insights from MetalXL are key inputs to achieve certification of the optimized and WAAM printed truss by consortium member Bureau Veritas.

Despite visions of entirely 3D-printed buildings, WAAM will not replace traditional construction methods – at least not in the short term. However, WAAM offers significant opportunities as an addition to traditional tools. Moreover, WAAM has several important benefits such as smart manufacturing, increased design flexibility, and material waste reduction for the broader adoption of metal 3D printing in the construction industry for large-scale components such as customized and optimized trusses, as proudly presented in the INTEGRADDE demonstrator.

Based on extensive experience, advanced research, and customer requirements, MX3D has recently launched a turnkey solution, the M1 Metal AM System. The robotic WAAM system runs on the company’s proprietary software MetalXL and comes with the MetalXL Control System that monitors and logs all relevant building parameters using voltage, amperage, gas, and temperature sensors. The system has automated calibration routines built in to minimize downtime during non-stop production. The M1 Metal AM System provides a cost-effective and complete solution allowing for the architecture, engineering, and construction industry to 3D print medium to large industrial metal parts in-house.

More info:

Full research article: https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/9635782. “An end-to-end framework for the additive manufacture of optimized tubular structures”, by Jun Ye (Imperial College London + Zhejiang University), Pinelopi Kyvelou (Imperial College London), Filippo Gilardi (MX3D), Hongjia Lu (the University of Sheffield), Matthew Gilbert (the University of Sheffield) and Leroy Gardner (Imperial College London)

INTEGRADDE: http://www.integraddeproject.eu/

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 820776. The dissemination of results herein reflects only the author’s view and the Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.