The TWI Technology Centre in Rotherham has become the first of its kind in the UK to secure qualification for a complex additive manufacturing (AM) process.
TWI is one of the world’s foremost independent research and technology organisations, with expertise in solving problems in all aspects of manufacturing, fabrication and whole-life integrity management technologies.
The Cambridge organisation has a Technology Centre on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham where experts provide technical support in joining and technologies such as material science, structural integrity, NDT, surfacing, electronic packaging and cutting.
TWI’s Yorkshire site has become the first AM facility in the UK to secure a signed facility qualification from Lloyds Register (LR) for the manufacture of components in Stainless Steel 316L on its EOS M290 laser powder bed fusion (PBF-LB) system.
The process is used to produce geometrically complex components that are difficult, expensive or impossible to create via conventional manufacturing.
Lloyds Register provides quality assurance and certification for ships, offshore structures, and shore-based installations such as power stations and railway infrastructure. It is part of a UK charity dedicated to research and education in science and engineering. Following an extensive independent audit, the site was awarded a facility qualification covering the entire end-to-end process including design, materials, manufacture, post-processing and inspection.
The certifications means that TWI can prove to their customers and the market that the AM parts manufactured on the AMP meet the required codes, standards, controls and best practices.
Paul Goodwin at TWI said: “PBF-LB is increasingly being used in industry, but its uptake has been hindered by a lack of understanding of the process, particularly in terms of controlling the quality and reproducibility of the parts made and how to qualify and certify these parts for use.
“The achievement of the facility qualification allows TWI to support industry on their journey towards part qualification and pre-audit facility checks for additively manufactured parts. We are now engaging with stakeholders regarding future work and additional developments to strengthen the facility qualification, including the addition of other materials and PBF-LB systems.”
David Hardacre, Lead Specialist at Lloyds Register, added: “An LR qualification provides independent third-party assurance to an AM facility and demonstrates a real commitment to the highest levels of consistent quality and safety.”