BOREALIS general objective is to exploit a decade of advanced R&D results in mechatronics and laser processing to demonstrate a novel machine that will produce, at unprecedented throughput (up to 2000 cm3/h) and efficiency (40% energy and 75% material saving), in true net shape (no final machining needed), with closed loop controlled and certified quality (zero faulty parts delivered), large (up to 4.5 m) and complex (in geometry, functionality, composition) products.

INNOVATION ACTIONS FOR EQUIPMENT

  • Borealis will combine fast mechatronics, additive and subtractive laser processing in the largest AM machine ever built before, with a flexible redundant structure to accommodate extremely variable working cubes and deposition areas (from 250x250x250 mm to 4500x2500x1000 mm)
  • Borealis will enable the integration of multiple AM technologies in one single machine to combine the most productive alternative with the most precise one with zero set-up time and zero material waste.
  • Borealis will offer world class efficiency: super light structure, three steps powder heating with energy loss recovering, high power with high beam quality laser source that allows power densities on the working area currently achievable with higher power lasers, fully adaptive process planning to minimize any energy loss.
  • Borealis will minimize powder losses by guaranteeing a controlled atmosphere in the operative region thanks to a shielded working space that encapsulates all ejected powders and protects them from oxygen contact.
  • Borealis will implement a software infrastructure with the first working exploitation of a completely closed automatic in line CAx chain bound to the CNC to select the Best Available Processing Strategy and machine settings.
  • Borealis will offer the highest throughput rate (2000 cm3/h) with unprecedented surface quality (submicron rugosity) thanks to the combination of two highly efficient laser sources (one CW for the sintering of metal powders and one pulsed for precise ablation and surface smoothing) and a fast scanning head.

INNOVATION ACTIONS FOR PROCESSES

  • Borealis will combine different technologies in a single machine to deliver true-net-shape products through a real-one-step process with an unprecedented material usage efficiency (-75% vs. SoA) and energy efficiency (-40% vs. current processes).
  • Borealis will implement an advanced 3D laser scanner that, combined with a novel laser source system, will support different laser based additive and subtractive technologies. For the first time ablation technology will complement the AM fabrication process to allow surface finishing, micro texturing and micro holes that would be otherwise unfeasible in one processing step.
  • Borealis will be equipped with an innovative flexible revolver head that will enable blending multiple powders of different materials and with different particles dimensions (micro and nano powders) to enhance usage flexibility.
  • Borealis machine and software infrastructure will perform a closed loop monitoring of the process that will lead to parts that are always right the first time (zero defect manufacturing) thanks to a sophisticated sensing system (camera and spectroscopy integrated system) and process parameters corrections elaborated and implemented at NC level.

INNOVATION ACTIONS FOR PRODUCTS

  • Borealis will combine powder mix management and fast laser processing to make possible the manufacturing of a new generation of products whose design and structure is currently out of the feasibility ranges of both conventional technologies (which is unfit to manage large parts and high production rates).
  • Borealis will allow the dinamically reconfigurable blending of powders of metal alloys and metal composites therefore enabling new functionally graded design concepts that cannot be processed with most of current AM technologies in one single step. 

REFERENCE INDUSTRIAL SECTORS

AEROSPACE

The global commercial aerospace avionics market is expected to reach $8.3 billion by 2020, with a moderate CAGR of 3.9% during the forecast period (Source: Deloittle Report 2014). Despite the adverse economic conditions that have prevailed, total industry sales grew during the last six years. North America holds the largest share of revenue, followed by Europe. Globally, avionics and engine together account for approximately 39% of the market are expected to support the aerospace and defense industry going forward. Geographical analysis shows that the highest Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 14.2% is anticipated from Asia-Pacific region during the analysis period, 2011-2018. Europe follows Asia-Pacific with a CAGR of 12.9%, while North America forecasts to drive with a growth rate of 11.2%. Aerospace and Defense in developing countries such as China, India and Brazil are projected to immense as a great market place in future prospects.

MEDTECH

The global market for dental implants and prostheses is estimated to be worth $9.1 billion by 2018 (source: MarketsandMarkets). This means a 30% increase compared with 2013, when the market was estimated to be worth $6.4 billion. The global market analyzed is segmented by implants, prostheses and geography. The dental implants market is classified by material, namely, Titanium and Zirconium. The prostheses market covers segments such as crowns and bridges, dentures, and abutments. The crowns and bridges segment is analyzed further by material. The total market is further divided into four major geographies, namely, North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and the rest of the world.

AUTOMOTIVE

Europe is the world’s largest producer of motor vehicles, having 183 production sites dedicated to assembly and powertrain production and more than 2.3 million people employed directly in the manufacture of motor vehicles and components (source: ACEA). This corresponds to almost 7% of all manufacturing employment in the EU27 (1% of total employment in the enlarged EU). It is estimated (source: ACEA) that the automotive industry supports more than 12 million sector-related jobs in Europe and increasingly, these are highly skilled jobs. This sector also makes a major contribution to EU’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and exports far more than it imports. For these reasons the Automotive sector is considered central to Europe’s employment and prosperity. In particular the extensive diffusion of turbocharged engines on the US, Cina and India market will represent an important opportunity of growth for the European automotive industries.

Workplan

In order to guarantee the achievement of Borealis objectives and to efficiently manage related project complexity, a coherent work plan, over 3 years, has been developed. It is organized in 11 work packages clustered in Project Management, Scientific and Technical, Demonstration and Dissemination and Exploitation activities. Particularly, the RTD activities will map the Borealis solution development lifecycle from the product and technologies design phases to processes and equipment design phases till the data acquisition, control and optimization phases.

  • WP1 aims at managing the overall project activities.
  • WP2 refers to the study of the next generation of products design and the fusion of manufacturing technologies enabling complex geometries and cutting edge dynamic and structural properties.
  • WP3 covers the activity of process design and planning where the actual manufacturing process is developed on the basis of the various available technologies and the products and production requirements.
  • WP4 deals with the design and configuration of the laser source and the 3D scanner to be nested into Borealis machine.
  • WP5 regards the configuration of the Borealis machine including the lightweight gantry and the PKM, which will host the laser head.
  • WP6 addresses the design of the sensing system, including the complex vision infrastructure.
  • WP7 outlines the design and development of the first of three step Borealis software infrastructure, i.e. the CAx chain which will lead to determine the process and machine adaptations to be executed to match the part and production quality requirements.
  • WP8 pertains to the second of the three step Borealis software infrastructure, i.e. the Control design that is responsible for operatively realizing the adaptations identified in WP7.
  • WP9 relates with the Borealis solution integration along with the last step of Borealis software infrastructure that is the overall optimization where all the aspects addressed at local level (e.g. process, machine and powder) are investigated and enhanced under a hierarchical optimization strategy selecting dynamically the energy, productivity and resource efficiency trade-offs and planning the strategies over the time.
  • WP10 refers respectively to the development of one physical demonstrator and one lab demonstrator for the medtech, aerospace and automotive industries.
  • WP11 ascertains an extensive dissemination and exploitation activities with the aim of boosting Borealis industrial solutions in future industrial practice.

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