Despite its aquatic name, the KRAKEN project is not out to disrupt maritime journeys, rather, it is aimed at disrupting large-scale manufacturing. The project, backed by the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, consists of a sophisticated hybrid manufacturing system that is capable of multi-material, large-format production.
The project, which launched in October 2016 and is slated to wrap up in September 2019, brings together a diverse team of partners from all over Europe, including CECIMO, Autonomous Systems, Alchemie, Arasol, Vero Software, TWI, ACCIONA and others. Together, the partners are working to develop an automated, robotic machine for hybrid, multi-material manufacturing.
The KRAKEN process combines large-scale additive manufacturing and subtractive processes with other cutting-edge management technologies to produce functional parts as large as 20 meters in length. Parts producing using the platform can be made from aluminum, thermoset polymer or a combination of both (hence the multi-material capabilities).
Though it is not clear at what stage of development the KRAKEN project is currently at, the initiative has set the bar high for expectations. According to the KRAKEN project’s website, the hybrid manufacturing system has the potential to offer 40% faster build rates than conventional manufacturing systems; 25% more productivity, thanks to real-time path programming and real-time geometry inspection; 30% less costs due to raw material and energy savings; and 90% less factory floor space.
The additive portion of the technology is reportedly capable of depositing aluminum grades at rates of up to 10 kg per hour and polymer-based materials (such as thermoset Epoxy and PUR resins) at much faster rates of 180 kg per hour. The subsequent milling process is based on a climb-up methodology designed specifically for the planar layer-by-layer and direct 3D freeform production method.
In terms of applications, the KRAKEN project could be used to enhance tunnel construction by offering a faster and cheaper way to apply waterproof covering modules to tunnels. The hybrid technology could also be used for manufacturing aluminum metallic back and front frames for the automotive industry—in fact, the project developed a part of the BIW of an Alfa Romeo 4C, including two aluminum frames and a carbon fiber composite monoque.
Finally, Italian car design firm Pininfarina—one of the partners working on the KRAKEN project—will utilize the platform to product a 3D printed mock-up of one of its car designs.
The completed KRAKEN system is expected to be demonstrated at an event in Spain this September. The research is being funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 723759.