TiDA is engaged in a research and development initiative to bring
Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM) to New Zealand
WAAM offers several benefits, with the potential to enhance metal additive manufacturing across industries.
WAAM is particularly suited to manufacturing large-scale metal parts, in contrast to powder-based metal AM technologies, which typically produce smaller, high-definition components. Unlike powder-bed AMprocesses, which have a limited build envelope, the robotic arm of a WAAM machine has more freedom of movement, meaning that the size of a component isn’t limited by space, but only by the distance the robotic arm can reach. This allows for the production of larger parts, which wouldn’t be possible with powder-bed processes.
In terms of material costs, the welding wire used in the WAAM printing process is significantly less expensive than the metal powder used in powder-based metal AM. This is because WAAM technology is based on welding, a well-established manufacturing technology in and of itself. WAAM hardware usually includes off-the-shelf welding equipment, which is less expensive than many metal 3D printers available on the market.
Unlike subtractive methods, WAAM uses a layer-by-layer approach to create a component. This means that material is deposited only where it’s needed, resulting in significant material savings and reduced material costs.
WAAM technology can deliver near net shape components, minimising the need for surface finishing. Parts produced with WAAM are particularly notable for their high density and strong mechanical properties, comparable to those manufactured with traditional manufacturing methods.
WAAM is also a good option for repair and maintenance operations for specific components like turbine blades, and also moulds and dies. Worn-out features or damaged parts can be repaired with WAAM by depositing new material on its surface. This can result in significant cost savings as it eliminates the need of producing a new part from scratch.