Newswire & Press Release / Grade2XL – The European multi-material WAAM development project – Military / Defense / Homeland Security – DCNS Group | Naval group
The project is part of the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation funding program. It is intended to give participants the opportunity to develop their skills in this technology. One of the levers for developing and promoting this technology is the Design Competition organized by Grade2XL. The winner had the opportunity to have his piece produced by Naval Group.
How did the design competition manufacturing process go?
“My work was done in three stages. First, I reconstructed the CAD using the mesh provided to us. Then, I generated the paths on a software, before creating the robot programs. Finally, I deposited the layers of material to create the parts on the machine, ”explains Théo Petitgas – Welding-Additive Manufacturing Engineer, in charge of manufacturing the part.
What is Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing or WAAM?
This additive manufacturing process is based on the MIG-MAG1 arc welding process which uses filler metal in the form of wire. It is particularly suitable for the manufacture of large and / or geometrically complex metal preforms. “The welding robot makes it possible to generate the desired deposition path. It is a technology which allows great freedom in terms of part size and design and which requires less raw material than a conventional process, ”explains Anne-Sophie Thorr, Additive Manufacturing Welding Engineer at Technocampus Océan. Something to seduce many manufacturers! WAAM has other strings to its bow: the high deposition rate allows a significant reduction in production time, a relatively low initial investment and a varied raw material (several metal alloys available), controlled and easily sourced (welding wire) . The latter is a concept that indicates the number of kilos deposited per unit of time, making it possible to classify additive manufacturing processes according to their productivity.
Mastering multi-material WAAM, a challenge
While WAAM for single-material parts is already mastered and tested for a certain number of metal alloys, the challenge of the Grade2XL project is to develop multi-material WAAM: by changing the filler metal, it is possible to give the part certain specific mechanical properties locally (resistance, anti-corrosion, anti-friction, etc.) and to use a less noble and therefore less expensive material for the rest of the part: “This is the opportunity to we are moving towards more functional parts and reducing manufacturing costs, ”explains Anne-Sophie. Thus, Grade2XL partners launched the design competition at the end of 2020 to promote the process. The competition, open to young engineering and research students, challenged them to design an innovative and manufacturable multi-material product based on WAAM technology. As a member and co-chairman of the jury that selected the finalists, Naval Group was also responsible for the manufacture of the piece designed by one of the two winners, Jan Reimann, a German student at the Technical University of Ilmenau . Manufactured at the end of May in the Additive Manufacturing unit of the Technical and Innovation Department of Nantes-Indret, the part designed by Jan is a structural node (connecting part between two structural parts). The innovation lies in the topological optimization of the part: the design is defined so as to distribute the material as best as possible in order to guarantee the mechanical strength of the part.
Demonstrators to build skills
In addition to participating in the Design Competition, Naval Group is also in charge of manufacturing two demonstrators, namely a hydraulic unit ring carrier for EDF and a plastic injection mold for ARRK – large parts with specific features such as the cooling channels integrated into the ARRK molder. “The realization of these demonstrators has enabled us to strengthen our skills in the manufacture and quality control of large parts, as well as in their functionalization. This includes the possibility of using different materials in certain areas of the part depending on the desired properties (anti-corrosion, anti-friction, anti-abrasion, etc.) “Result: reduced production time and costs, improved quality, process… For Naval Group, mastery of WAAM multi-material technology opens up the field of possibilities in both new construction and maintenance… And new opportunities for Production too!
(1) Focus on the Grade 2XL project:
Grade2XL is a collaborative project which aims to promote the rapid development of WAAM multi-material technology. The objective is to demonstrate the potential of this technology for the manufacture of large structures from 1 to 10 meters in length. With a budget of around 10 million euros, including 8 million euros funded by the European research and development program Horizon2020, this project brings together 21 partners from eight European countries. Grade2XL research and development will take place over a 48-month period (March 2020 to February 2024)