WIT launches €1.1m metal 3D laser printing programme

14 Nov 2014

Guests attend the launch of SEAM's €1.1m metal 3D printing-additive manufacturing project at WIT. Image via Patrick Browne

Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) has struck a €1.1m deal to lead a programme developing metal 3D printing using lasers capable of achieving far more complex designs than traditional manufacturing.

As part of the institute’s South Eastern Applied Materials (SEAM) Research Centre, WIT will work with Boston Scientific, a medical device multinational; Schivo, an indigenous precision engineering company; and Lisnabrin Engineering, a tool manufacturing company.

The programme aims to bring a considerable change to the way manufacturing industries operate in Ireland through a process known as metal laser sintering.

This technology uses a process whereby high-powered lasers are aimed at powdered metal, causing a huge build-up of heat that binds it together to form a solid structure.

The process is considered important because of the technology’s complexity and ability to form structures that no traditional manufacturing processes are capable of achieving.

The project will run for two and a half years, with engineering staff from the three companies working alongside researchers from SEAM in a new space adjacent to the existing SEAM laboratories at WIT.

Speaking at the launch, Dr Ramesh Raghavendra, centre manager of SEAM and lead on the project, said, “The new technology we are developing as part of this challenging project offers enormous potential to manufacturing industries in Ireland, as it allows streamlining of the manufacturing process by removing multiple process steps, reducing materials handling and the number of components in an assembly, as well as enabling rapid prototyping of functional metal components.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic