The Multi-Scale Additive Manufacturing Lab at University of Waterloo recently received $27 million from the Ontario government, the university and industry partners.
The lab already received some of the funding, and has brought in new equipment and researchers which helped expand the facility into a full-functioning metals additive manufacturing research lab.
Additive manufacturing, commonly known as 3D printing, is a process where parts are built from scratch layer by layer with raw materials like metal powders.
Mark Barfoot, the lab's managing director said the funding will help them focus on researching metals particularly for industry.
"It's a really growing area. People want to be able to produce manufactured parts they can use in a production environment," he said.
The lab will be working closely with industry partners on short-term projects that address acute needs.
- Printed titanium parts expected to save millions in Boeing Dreamliner costs
- Boeing's new spacecraft to use more than 600 3D-printed parts
For example, the aerospace industry needs lighter parts for aircraft and space shuttles. The lab is working on using metal additive manufacturing techniques to build those parts.
Traditional manufacturing techniques don't allow for intricate designs, which isn't a problem for additive manufacturing.
"We can do a much lighter shape," said Barfoot. Reducing weight can mean significant fuel savings on an aircraft.
Barfoot said he's excited to see the lab grow in the future, perhaps also doing research on new plastics 3D printing technology.
"Part of the reason I came was I want to see additive manufacturing growing in Canada," he said, "I think we can be a world leader in additive manufacturing, we're not right now."