HELP FOR KONGSBERG INDUSTRY FROM NEW PRODUCTION METHODS
Kongsberg Innovation is leading a project aimed at securing the industry by consolidating it’s expertise in additive production. Digitread is contributing with design tools and developing new methodology in this project.
Traditional production methods often consist of processes where materials are cast, rolled or punched out before the individual components are assembled and become new products. Additive production, on the other hand consists of adding materials layer upon layer, for example, when something is 3D printed. Additive production methods make it possible to produce objects that could not have previously been created, precisely because the structure is built up in layers. Although knowledge of additive manufacturing has greatly improved and the prices of 3D printers have dropped, it has not yet been possible to exploit this technology to any great extent industrially. There are few products we commonly use that are made in this way.
More knowledge is needed
“We need to jump on the bandwagon when it comes to additive manufacturing and manufacturing technology because we want to be at the forefront of future development. It is important that our industry can take advantage of it,” says Lars Lyshaug from Kongsberg Innovation. He manages the project which involves the companies in the Kongsberg Cluster teaming up to establish a test center where they will build up expertise on how new modern design tools which have been adapted to additive production, can add value to the industry.
“Thus, we are looking to learn more about radical new design methods and how components and products can be manufactured in completely new ways rather than with the traditional methods currently used today,” he continues.
New challenges require new ways of thinking
A change to additive production will require changes in how we organize ourselves, how components are designed, and how to think and utilize the various solutions to take advantage of all the possibilities. Magnus Normann, CEO of Digitread explains why that change is necessary,
“For instance, if we start with parts that are 3D-printed, the parts need to be hardened. However, the curing process can cause the materials to bend. Hence, we may end up having to design something that is bent in order for the finished end product to be straight. In other words, the designer must possess special knowledge of materials and take into account completely different conventions when designing for additive production, than when designing something by means of other production methods.”
“In the past, a lot of emphasis had to be placed on the actual method of production to be used when designing a product. It had to be considered whether it should be cast, or perhaps milled. It becomes less important to bear such considerations in mind in additive production. Today we focus on topology optimization, a method where we let the design tools optimize the shape according to what function the product should perform,” Normann explains.
In simple terms, it is the systems that generate the very best shape based on specifications such as weight load, pressure and temperatures that the product must withstand. The enormous computing power that is housed in computer systems today can help create organic forms that are perfect for solving the product’s function and ensure that the topology of the product is optimal. Such a development not only requires good technical tools but the designers also need to acquire new knowledge and adapt a new methodology.”
“Because when production methods change, the design methodology must also change”, he adds.
A collaborative project
The agreement between the Kongsberg Cluster and Digitread was concluded at the end of last year. The outcome of the ongoing collaboration means that the Kongsberg cluster will have access to Siemens’ market leading design tools, and in turn Digitread will provide personnel to help the cluster develop methodologies and working methods that will enable the industry to succeed.
“For us, it has been important to pick suppliers who are far ahead of the competition in purely technological terms and who are concerned about more than just selling software; suppliers who want to find the best solutions and are collaborative. The choice also fell on Digitread, and Siemens’ software, because they supply tools that the industry either partially or fully uses today,” explains Lars Lyshaug.
At the test center, the industry will run its projects with assistance from the vast array of expertise on hand at the center, including through its collaboration with Digitread The objective is for the companies to be able to take their experiences back to their own business and further develop their technology and methodology there.
“We are excited about this collaboration and look forward to helping the industry with tools that enable companies to design in a way that is suitable for additive manufacturing. With the right methodology, I think we can significantly increase the efficiency of the Norwegian industry. This serves to strengthen international competition and create synergies which is to the mutual benefit of the Kongsberg industry,” Normann emphasizes.
Pursuing a long term outlook
The Kongsberg Cluster has a long-term perspective on the test center. The cluster has applied for funds through the Norwegian Catapult program which is administered by the Industrial Development Corporation of Norway (SIVA). The program supports the innovative capabilities of small and medium companies.
“If we are awarded these funds, this will give us a completely different financial base from which to boost our project. Among other things, we also collaborate with the Manufacturing Technology Catapult Center at Raufoss, with Sintef and with the Future Materials Catapult Center in Grimstad. The sum of all these factors can lift us to a level where our sphere of influence not only has a huge impact locally but also at national level,” Lyshaug explains.
“Right now, we are in the start-up phase where we are working on four specific projects to ascertain whether they are suitable for topology optimization and additive design. Then we will move on to the next development phase which we expect to commence in the spring,” concludes Lyshaug.
About the Kongsberg cluster
- NCE Systems Engineering, or the Kongsberg Cluster, is a “Norwegian Center of Expertise” with core competencies in systems engineering
- The cluster consists of a number of high-tech companies occupying world-leading market positions in many industries
- The companies in the Kongsberg Cluster are some of the most innovative and spend around NOK 3 billion every year on research, development and innovation
- Since 2006, NCE Systems Engineering has had the status of a Global Cluster of Expertise and the business is an integral part of Kongsberg Innovation