Robotic Wire + Arc Additive Manufacture cell

Lead Research Organisation: University of Strathclyde
Department Name: Electronic and Electrical Engineering


Additive manufacturing (AM) has gained significant interests from industries of different sectors. Among different AM processes, Wire + Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM), which used metal wire as feedstock and electric arc as a heat source, has been shown to be suitable for producing large scale components with comparatively low equipment cost and running cost. The WAAM process has been developed in Cranfield University for many years, many large components of different materials, including titanium alloys, aluminium alloys, nickel alloys as well as steels have been successfully built for industrial partners.
The end-user industries, such as Airbus, FMC technologies and Glemalmond Group see significant benefits presented by the WAAM process to be able to manufacture structural components in a short lead time with low cost. Kuka Systems sees the great opportunity to get the forefront of this technology and to get the business benefit from commercialisation of the first WAAM machine. The main target of this project is to develop a commercial robotic WAAM machine (ROBOWAAM) that can be used by industrial partners for building meter scale components. Cranfield University will integrate its extensive WAAM process knowledge into a feature- based path planning software to support the end-users to manufacture components for their applications. In additional an online feedback control system will be developed and integrated into ROBOWAAM machine to correct build height errors.
To assure the deposition quality of the part, in-process nondestructive testing (NDT) method needs to be applied. Usually NDT is applied after the components has been finished. It is a time consuming and costly process if a defect is found which would either require a repair procedure or may lead to scrapping of the part. Thus an in-process NDT method is required to for inspecting each layer of the deposition. If a defect is found then the current layer will need to be machined before the recommence of the deposition. Cranfield University will collaborate with the University of Strathclyde and Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC) on a feasibility study of the in-process NDT method on the WAAM parts with existing NDT technologies. The in-process NDT will be incorporated with the WAAM process into a parallel processing system and the capability of this system will be demonstrated in this project.
In addition, an extended study will be performed on the automation requirements of the whole WAAM chain. This will include the pre-WAAM processes such as substrate cleaning, post-WAAM process such as heat treatment and final machining, parallel processes such as in-process NDT and top surface machining, as well as material manipulation between processes.

Planned Impact

A number of fundamental knowledge exchange activities will occur during the course of this project. The academic partners will benefit greatly from the cross fertilisation of knowledge between the two established centres - Cranfield representing the advanced welding technologies, and Strathclyde representing the Non-Destructive Testing capabilities. Of course this knowledge will feed directly into the end user and supply chain partners as well as our other professional networks.

Specific impacts to be driven by this research include:

Helping to disseminate new NDT integration knowledge to KUKA Systems. Integration of NDT technologies into future systems will help diversify KUKA Systems product portfolio thus contributing to new jobs and UK economy.

Integrating new in-process NDT measurements into additive manufacturing will improve the quality and performance of finished parts supplied by the end users (Airbus Defence and Space, FMC Technologies, Glenalmond Group).

Wider industry engagement through dissemination activities to the wider industry base of UK Research Centre in Non-Destructive Evaluation (RCNDE) - nuclear and energy sectors in particular.

Wider academic engagement through network of researchers engaged in EPSRC funded AIMaReM programme (University of Sheffield, AMRC, Los Alamos National Laboratories, RWTH Aachen Germany and University West Sweden). The additive process is well suited to support the workpackages involved in remanufacture in this research.

Supporting UK economy through driving internationally excellent research and development.

Staff and student development will be supported by significant upskilling of staff in cutting edge AM techniques developed through Cranfield. Project students will directly benefit from exposure to latest developments in AM engineering.

Supporting AFRC business plan, through wider engagement with local industry with requirements for advanced robotics, manufacture and repair technologies, and non-destructive testing.

Public engagement activities to include using portable ERIC robotic cell to support public exhibitions, demonstrations and school visits to encourage STEM activities.


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Lines D (2020) A flexible robotic cell for in-process inspection of multi-pass welds in Insight - Non-Destructive Testing and Condition Monitoring

Description New NDT techniques for in-process inspection in additive manufacture
Exploitation Route In welding technologies - particularly for high integrity, multipass welding
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Construction,Energy,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

Description ABC of ARC
Amount £224,000 (GBP)
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2018 
End 03/2020
Description Large Area Metal Additive - LAMA
Amount £5,886,209 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/R027218/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2018 
End 06/2023
Description OAAM - Open Architecture Additive Manufacture
Amount £320,619 (GBP)
Funding ID 113164 
Organisation Innovate UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2017 
End 11/2020