The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) has announced a partnership with Quebec-based company Polycontrols, which specializes in surface engineering solutions and equipment integration. Together, they partners will establish a new research facility aimed at supporting manufacturers and researchers in the study, adoption and deployment of cold spray additive manufacturing (CSAM) technology.
The joint NRC and Polycontrols facility—officially to be called the Poly/CSAM facility—is expected to officially open in February 2020 and will be based at the NRC’s existing site in Boucherville, Quebec, just outside of Montreal.
Broadly, the facility aims to accelerate the adoption of metal additive manufacturing across Canadian industries by providing industrial-scale demonstrations for the CSAM process. More specifically, it will be focused on scaling-up the CSAM process by working with industry partners to adapt the lab-developed technology for factory and mass production requirements.
“The National Research Council of Canada acknowledges the value and importance this collaboration can offer the industry and the Canadian advanced manufacturing ecosystem,” commented François Cordeau, Vice President of Transportation and Manufacturing at the NRC. “We see great potential in bringing together different stakeholders to enable innovation and to build a network of industrial partners for a stronger Canadian supply and value chain. Our renowned technological expertise and capabilities in additive manufacturing research and development will support Poly/CSAM and contribute to developing demonstration platforms targeted at end user-industries and cluster networks.”
The partnership between the NRC and Polycontrols was laid out through a six-year-long agreement, which—in addition to establishing the CSAM facility—will also offer training programs to manufacturers to optimize the adoption of CSAM technologies and to ensure that the systems are safely installed and used.
Luc Poullot, Vice President of Operations at Polycontrols, added: “Polycontrols is eager to leverage its proven track record in thermal and cold spray implementation (aerospace and surface transportation industries) to showcase its capabilities as a large-scale manufacturing integrator offering custom equipment platforms with the objective of bringing disruptive technologies such as hybrid robotic manufacturing, data analytics and machine learning (supported by Artificial Intelligence) to the shop floor.”
“We see Poly/CSAM as a way to strengthen Canada’s industrial leadership in cold spray additive manufacturing and becoming more agile and competitive on the national and international scene,” he added.
The upcoming Canadian AM facility will reportedly offer a range of unique capabilities related to the CSAM process, including surface preparation; coating and 3D buildup by cold spray; local, laser-based thermal treatment; in-situ robotic machining and surface finish; cutting edge sensor technologies; extensive data logging and analytics; and machine learning.
The first phase of the Poly/CSAM facility is supported by an estimated initial investment of $4 million from Investissement Québec, the Business Development Bank of Canada and the Bank of Montreal. The NRC is also an active partner in various other AM-related projects, including a bioprinting initiative in collaboration with Aspect Biosystems and a project with AP&C focused on x-ray testing metal AM powders.