Developing world-class engineering with unique equipment in Latin America

 

With an estimated investment  of 13.5 million dollars, was announced the opening of the Additive Manufacturing Consortium, through which businessmen from the entire country will have access for the first time in Latin America to the technique of “Electron-Beam Melting,” with three machines of this kind, which have the capability of high speed manufacturing pieces with interesting characteristics for the industrial environment, encouraging not only its use, but also the training of personnel specialized for its operation.

 

The project was held through an operation with the State Government working together with the National Council on Science and Technology (CONACyT, by its Spanish initials,) the Center for Research and Advanced Studies from the Instituto Politecnico Nacional (CINVESTAV, by its Spanish initials) the Center for Applied Innovation in Competitive Technologies (CIATEC, by its Spanish initials,) as well as the Center for Engineering and Industrial Development (CIDESI, by its Spanish initials,) which decided to present the state initiative to create what they call a Latin American Academic Industrial Consortium for Additive Manufacturing.

 

“We seek potentiate certain mature technological sectors to transfer that knowledge to the Industry, the initiative was taken to integrate the Additive Manufacturing Consortium integrated in a slightly different manner, since it comes through an academic industrial motivation to place a set of relatively novelty technologies in the additive manufacturing sector in Mexico, at the service of the most important sectors in the country that will include the aeronautic, automotive, metal-mechanic and medical devices,” said in an interview for Mexico Industry, Juan Manuel Alvarado Orozco, director of the department of surfaces engineering and additive manufacture of the Center for Engineering and Industrial Development (CIDESI,) and manager of the Additive Manufacturing Consortium.

 

“Due to that the equipment to develop this kind of technology require a strong investment, in Mexico these techniques have not achieved to be included in the manufacturing industry, since in addition to the maintenance and operation prices are high; for example, if a company requires making a 1 x 1 centimeters piece in a conventional machine of powdered milk of “Direct Metal Laser Melting” (DMLM,) only for the first testing we need a minimum of 20 kilos of powder with an approximate cost of 80 thousand pesos, from which less than the fourth part of investment will be reflected in the piece,” said Diego German Espinosa Arbelaez, manager of coatings and alloys in the direction of surfaces engineering from the Center for Engineering and Industrial Development (CIDESI) Queretaro.

 

It is important to notice that consortiums are a strategy CONACyT has in general for its public centers, until this year there were only first generation consortiums, which are conformed by CONACyT centers and the different specialized centers of the country; the creation of second generation consortiums currently started, designed to attack specific thematic; however, additive manufacturing, as it is a transversal technology turns interesting, since there is no specific sector adopting it, opening its doors not only to materials’ research and development centers , but also to the different sectors and companies dedicated to manufacture, encouraging its growth by having products of higher added value.

 

“Among the main industries adopting the inclusion of additive manufacturing technologies as part of its productive systems to fulfill the reduction of the supply chain related for certain products, is aeronautics, since it is one of the sectors that added value components requires and where the cost of the supply chain turns to be important,” said Juan Manuel Alvarado Orozco.

 

INDUSTRIES WILL BE OFFERED WITH FIRST TECHNOLOGY EQUIPMENT

 

This project implies two stages, within which physical infrastructure, printing technologies, peripheral equipment will be worked, as well as collaborative spaces and of human capital formation, in addition of being an environment for investors that can potentiate the development of new Mexican companies.

 

One of the technologies installed in the consortium arrives to Latin America for the first time, it has to do with the electron beam assisted powder bed printing, which are very specific and expensive technologies for certain sectors, mainly for the aerospace and medical, it will be the only one in Latin America for these processes.  Peripherally to that there will be more technology of last generation of laser assisted powder bed and of printing assisted by binder jetting technology.

 

“In an academic-industrial manner the hot isostatic pressing equipment will be the second in Mexico and the first in operation, these two subsystems, in addition of the idea of generating the atomized metal powder in Mexico will be the three innovative new technologies the consortium will have and that in fact do not exist in our country,” said Juan Manuel Alvarado.

 

There will be five metal printing equipment, powder bed printers assisted by different types, laser electron beam or binder in addition of other additive manufacturing  technologies already installed in CIDESI, such as robotic laser cladding and pulsed welding cells and 20 post processing equipment which go from furnaces, pressure and controlled atmosphere, to characterization equipment and post treatment complementary equipment.

 

COLLABORATION WITH DIFFERENT SECTORS

 

Currently the consortium is already developing new technologies with different private companies and many other public ones among which are specific projects with Caterpillar, GE Aviation and Siemens mainly in powder manufacturing.

 

Veronica Mendez Magana, head of Government Relations and Business Development in GE Additive, said: “General Electric is seeking to develop the use of additive manufacturing, the main value we see in this relation is the knowledge and experience of CIDESI; we seek being present through the consortium in Queretaro to provide access to the adoption of additive manufacturing in Latin America.  We are currently working in the development of solution methodology for the recovering of blades; it is important to mention that it is the first time GE Additive participates in a project of this magnitude in Mexico, at the end of the day it is part of competitiveness, and it is a differentiator to decide where projects are sent.”

 

“Nowadays we are eleven researchers and five technicians specialized in different areas of additive manufacturing, as well as administrative personnel.  We have agreements with different research centers and national and international universities; we can provide accompaniment for the development of a process or a specific technology, we are destined to serve the region and this country.” Ended the manager of Additive Manufacturing Consortium.