Robotic Wire + Arc Additive Manufacuture

Lead Research Organisation: Cranfield University
Department Name: Sch of Aerospace, Transport & Manufact


3D printing or additive manufacture (AM) of metals has the potential to revolutionise some areas of industry such as aerospace and energy. This particularly applies if it can be used for the production of large parts at low cost and with high quality for critical engineering applications. It has been demonstrated on a laboratory scale that 3D printing based on conventional welding methods using an electric arc and wire feed to deposit weld beads in a layer wise fashion has the potential for this. However there are currently no commercial systems available to enable this to be exploited on an industrial scale. The objective of the RoboWAAM project is to develop a 3D metal printing system based on large scale flexible robotics and welding technology.
The developed system will be adaptable so that other process such as inspection can be incorporated during the printing of the part. This will ensure that the printed parts have the required high quality. The system will be suitable for subsequent commercialisation. Adoption of the system by industrial users will lead to significant cost savings in a range of industrial sectors including aerospace, construction and energy.
The project is a collaboration between Kuka Systems, Airbus Defence and Space, FMC Technologies, Glenalmond Group, CU and the University of Strathclyde (including the Advanced Forming Research Centre, which is one of the High Value Manufacturing Catapults).

Planned Impact

1. When the ROBOWAAM system becomes commercially available it will be the first metal AM system capable of automatically producing meter-scale metallic parts with high integrity and low cost. This would put the UK in a world leading
and unique position with respect to provision of these systems. Consequently significant economic benefits can be expected. UK sales are expected to be at least £4M per year (8 systems @ £500k each) with much larger numbers likely
for exports. This will provide significant economic benefit to the system supplier and the UK in general.
2. ADS will require 2 RoboWAAM systems to manufacture 16-20 titanium tanks annually. Glenalmond plan to establish a facility in the UK which will initially integrate 8 WAAM systems with post processing to provide the world's first full turnkey WAAM component manufacturing centre of excellence. This will be expanded to supply further demand being shown by a number of blue chip international companies. FMC plan to establish a full AM manufacture capability based on RoboWAAM. UK aerospace supply chain and oil & gas supply chain. If the technologies developed within this project were rolled out across the UK aerospace supply chain as well as the UK oil & gas supply chain, it would give them a significant competitive advantage over their overseas competitors. This could potentially increase employment within this sector.
3. UK economy. In addition to the increased competitiveness of UK companies, the reduced raw material imports (typically from the US and Russia), and an increase in exports of semi-finished products produced by the UK supply chain will significantly improve the UK balance of trade benefiting society as a whole.
4. Environment. There will be a significant environmental benefit due to a 60% reduction in the requirement of raw materials, with a consequential reduction in carbon emissions and energy use from the mining, refinement and transportation phases of the product life cycle.
5. Cranfield Uversity. The licensing of Cranfield Intellectual Property through the WAAM-Soft software will provide an additional revenue stream to the university, helping to fund continued high quality research in this area and ensuring the continued provision of highly skilled engineers to UK industry. The project will also help Cranfield University to remain at the forefront of research within this field. The wider adoption of the technology will provide a need for additional academic studies into the development of process control algorithms for new materials and geometries (of interest to other sectors), and general process innovations which Cranfield will be uniquely positioned to deliver.
6. Staff working on the project. The staff working on this project will develop a unique set of skills in welding/deposition, materials, and process monitoring and control. Hence the project will help provide the manufacturing industry with staff with this unique skill set.
7. Students working within the department. The university runs a successful Welding Engineering MSc course where students are taught the latest advances in welding and additive manufacture technologies. The students will be exposed to
the outputs of this research within their taught modules and will potentially be able to participate in the research itself through their group and individual projects.
Description A company WAAM3D has been set up to directly exploit outputs from this research project
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology
Impact Types Societal,Economic

Description Discussion with CTO of High Value Manufacturing Catapult on how to best engage with centres in the HVMC
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Description MSc Course - Additive Manufacture
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact The MSc course contributes to increase number of skilled people working in additive manufacturing (AM). When compared to the traditional manufacturing processes, AM offers a significant cost saving by reducing the amount of material used and processing time. AM is also an environmentaly friendly process because less material is used and wasted during manufacturing of large industrial components.
Description ATI Innovate funding
Amount £8,000,000 (GBP)
Funding ID 5041010 
Organisation Innovate UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2018 
End 12/2020
Description Multifun
Amount € 8,320,000 (EUR)
Funding ID P12842 
Organisation European Commission H2020 
Sector Public
Country Belgium
Start 03/2020 
End 02/2023
Description Belgian welding society talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Keynote lecture at Belgian Welding Society 75 year celebration workshop
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
Description NIIAM opening 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Keynote presentation at formal opening of the National Innovation Institute for Additve Manufacture (NIIAM) in Xian China
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
Description Visitors from Singaporean National Additive Manufacture Centre 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Discussion about future collaboration
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018