Category Archives: Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre

Origin International and WAMIC collaborate to deliver world-leading inspection analysis

Mankirat Singh (seated), WAMIC research assistant and a student from NC’s Mechanical Engineering Technology program, works with research lead Allan Spence, PhD, to review a CheckMate inspection program before execution on the Mitutoyo CMM.

Research & Innovation’s leading-edge dimensional metrology equipment has received a performance upgrade thanks to a partnership with a global inspection analysis software leader.

Origin International Inc. (OII) and Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC) are collaborating to bring additional capabilities to the Centre’s research and technical services repertoire.

Ontario-based Origin is the world leader in SOLIDWORKS-based touch probe and laser digitizer inspection programming and analysis software. Origin’s CheckMate software is an add-in for SOLIDWORKS, the leading CAD software in the manufacturing supply chain. CheckMate provides extensive functionality for coordinate measuring machine (CMM) programming applications.

Origin will work with the WAMIC research team to support inspection programming and analysis.

The new Origin software supports both WAMIC’s recently-acquired Mitutoyo/Renishaw CMM and the research laboratory’s FARO ScanArm laser digitizer.

“Working with Origin will enable us to develop a wide range of state-of-the-art design and manufacturing solutions,” notes WAMIC research lead Allan Spence, PhD.

“The pace of manufacturing is picking up worldwide and it’s vital for Ontario manufacturers to keep up. It’s a technology challenge and a skills challenge,” says Origin global business development director Geoff Foulds.

“Origin’s collaboration with WAMIC will help deliver the insights and services southern Ontario manufacturers need,” says Foulds, adding the collaboration will also provide Origin with the ready lab access it needs to keep its solutions on the cutting edge.

“Origin’s collaboration with WAMIC will help deliver the insights and services southern Ontario manufacturers need.”
~ Geoff Foulds, Origin global business development director

In July 2020, the new CMM was installed in the Welland campus labs at Niagara College. The CMM is considered the most precise measuring technology on the spectrum.

It is the “gold standard, to which other instruments can be calibrated against, and will provide enhanced confidence to industry partners that our measurement services meet expectations,” says Spence.

The advanced precision measurement instrument, along with the new CheckMate software is good news for advanced manufacturing companies requiring high-accuracy micrometre-scale dimensional metrology.

Factories, for example, with worn or broken rotating machinery parts require measurements, but often the components can be decades old, with no CAD drawings available, notes Spence, whose background is in the science of measurement, and has an established reputation in Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing (GD&T).

The CMM – acquired thanks to funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) through its Applied Research Tools and Instruments (ARTI) grants program – has added to WAMIC’s current leading-edge dimensional metrology equipment, such as its laser triangulation and distance technology, including the FARO Focus, FARO Tracker and FARO Scan Arm.

To learn more about the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre, its resources, capabilities and the types of research projects we undertake, visit the website.


WAMIC team performs 3D dimensional analysis inspections for aerospace firm

Research laboratory technologist Brock Husak on-site at aerospace company Fleet Canada with WAMIC’s FARO Vantage Laser Tracker performing tolerance inspections on an aircraft jig.

There is no compromising quality within the aerospace industry. Naturally, every part and assembly demands reliable precision, with no room for error.

Local aerospace stalwart Fleet Canada Inc. has major clients on its roster, including Boeing, Viking Air and Bombardier. Like most manufacturers, the Fort Erie company utilizes jigs and fixtures to maximize production efficiency and increase reliable accuracy and quality. (A jig is a tool that supports and guides the workpiece being machined and a fixture holds the part during the assembly process.)

These customers require recurrent certification that the assembly jigs for their components are still compliant to a specified tolerance.

“Periodic surveillance inspection reports are required by our customers on a yearly basis for all assembly jigs,” says Fleet’s Lewy Ruegg, senior program manager and former tooling/quality inspector there.

“Each jig has tooling holes in various positions around the jig that have X,Y,Z coordinates assigned to them that matches the aircraft,” says Ruegg.

The tolerances of assembly jigs are usually plus or minus five to 10 thousands of an inch (0.0005″ to 0.010″).  As reference, the average thickness of a strand of hair is four thousands of an inch (0.004″)

Owning the state-of-the-market portable coordinate measuring machines (CMM) with specialized laser capabilities and software to perform the required inspections in-house is not always ideal for many companies. For Fleet, they have relied on the advanced inspection services from Niagara College’s Research & Innovation division and its mobile laser tracker since 2015.

Once on-site, experts from the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC) use their FARO Vantage Laser Tracker to perform inspection measurements of the aircraft assembly jigs. The laser technology works in conjunction with PolyWorks|InspectorTM, a universal 3D dimensional analysis and quality control software.

Researchers take precise 3D measurements of a multitude of critical features (or points) on a given assembly jig with reference to the local coordinate system of the jig and apply specification tolerances to the collected values, explains Dave McKechnie, WAMIC research laboratory technologist.

“We can produce a table-style report clearly displaying a PASS/FAIL condition as well as numeric X, Y, Z coordinate data for each point on the inspection point list,” McKechnie says, adding that the inspection point list is supplied to Fleet by the aircraft manufacturer.

“Using the laser tracker, which we do not possess at this time, Niagara College captures all of these points and then they are compared to the supplied “nominal” values. If points are out of tolerance, then they are reworked as required,” explains Ruegg. “Customers are able to monitor their assembly jigs and if they want any modifications made, they know what the tooling is providing.”

Ruegg says that during the last few years inspections were completed on seven aircraft assembly jigs, but prior to that there were about 20 jigs that needed inspection reports each year.

“Niagara College has done a great job with being able to meet our schedules and have always been very professional,” says Ruegg. “We have had great service from all involved over the years.”

The FARO laser tracker has a variety of applications and the WAMIC team has used it with multiple industry partners for jig/machine/part inspection, machine or construction levelling, adds McKechnie.

The field scanning with laser tracker inspection is just one of many of the technical services with state-of-the-market equipment at the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC). To see more capabilities and equipment, see the website.


Brilliant Photonics’ UV-C commercial lighting system to disinfect COVID-19 virus

Coronavirus structural morphology

Brilliant Photonics is well known for developing high-tech industrial lighting systems for the agricultural and horticultural industries. Now the Kitchener, Ont. company is adding another market to its list – industrial disinfection technology to help kill viruses like SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19.

They are utilizing the high intensity of ultra-violet (UV)-C radiation – long used as a virus and bacteria disinfection method for air, surfaces and water. Invisible to the human eye, UV light is divided into UV-A, UV-B and UV-C, with UV-C being the shortest wavelength and most intense part of the ultraviolet light spectrum.

Using the more powerful deep UV-C LED irradiation, recent research points to the effectiveness in inactivating the SARS-CoV-2 virus. However, current UV-C LED systems are not powerful enough for commercial applications and are generally used inside small containers to achieve the dose required for effective disinfection, says Brilliant Photonics‘ CEO Kevin LeBlanc.

His company is looking to harness the more recent technology of UV-C LED lighting that packs a much higher power density to disinfect larger surface areas at higher rates and with more effectiveness. But the company faces a challenge they can’t solve alone.

“We are developing a light fixture capable of producing three radiometric watts of radiant power at 265nm spectrum that could rapidly disinfect viruses on surfaces at more than three metres distance,” says LeBlanc, adding the goal is to retrofit their current horticultural lighting system to support UV-C and partner with commercial cleaning services to disinfect places such as hospitals, long-term care homes, schools, factories and other commercial environments.

However, UV-C LEDs get much hotter than conventional LEDs, and as a result, their output power is limited. To achieve more power levels required for commercial-scale application for UV-C disinfecting, high-performance cooling systems are required.

While the company has designed a prototype, complete with liquid cooling technology, the challenge with their current product is that it’s costly and difficult to manufacture at high volumes since every part has to be CNC machined. They sought expert help from Research & Innovation’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC) at Niagara College to help reduce manufacturing costs and complexity.

“Students get real industry experience, the College receives equipment and industry engagement and we get the professional engineers and machines required for innovation.”
~ Kevin LeBlanc, CEO, Brilliant Photonics 

“By reducing thermal resistance, LEDs can be placed closer together thus producing greater photon density,” explains LeBlanc. “In order to match the thermal performance required for the highest power density, we must produce our system with costly copper components.” 

Through an earlier project, with funding through the National Research Council of Canada – Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP), the WAMIC team was able to distill the company’s concepts into a more readily-manufactured prototype design involving a proposed combination of high-temperature 3D plastic printing, machining of an aluminum housing, and machining of a copper heatsink.

“I took the design review process seriously and we quickly iterated through several impactful design revisions making the product with less material, much easier to manufacture and with performance improvements that will permit us to increase our full spectrum lighting power from 600W to 900W on a five-inch light module,” says LeBlanc.  

In its current project with WAMIC – under a grant from the NC-led Southern Ontario Network for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation (SONAMI), backed by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) – Brilliant Photonics is working with researchers to further improve the prototype design manufacturing.

The research team is working with the company to develop a high-temperature 3D-printed reflector cone, machined finned copper heat sink and aluminum electrical housing and water housing.

“The project is particularly challenging as the heat sink fins are very slender and may vibrate (chatter) when machining,” explains WAMIC research lead Allan Spence, PhD. “A low RPM slot mill with a horizontal 4th axis will be used. Adding pipe threads is also delicate, and a thread mill will be used to produce that feature. Sealing to avoid water leakage will require very flat mating surfaces.”

Brilliant Photonics plans to take a finalized prototype for product testing to the Canadian Centre for Product Validation. The goal is for the technology to support a range of products, including a handheld lamp, mobile handcart, wall/ceiling mountable, chambers, air filters and water systems.

LeBlanc describes the partnership with Niagara College as a win for everyone: “Students gets real industry experience, the College receives equipment and industry engagement and we get the professional engineers and machines required for innovation. 

“The research team had a lot more experience than I expected, and as a result, I was able to fully engage in rapid product design cycles and received professional advice from an industry expert who then trained students on how to use the machines and produce the parts.” 

For more information about the applied research and technical services offered at Research & Innovation’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre, visit the website. 


UPCOMING EVENT: Lead Time: Metrology Trends webinar on Feb 25

Niagara College’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre is hosting “Lead Time” a webinar series focusing on Metrology Trends in an Industry 4.0 World on Thursday, February 25 at 11 AM. Register for this event here.

These days, we are working harder in the midst of continued uncertain times.
Niagara College’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre is introducing a new educational webinar series – LEAD TIME to provide information on how you can introduce Industry 4.0 technologies to help your company work smarter, not harder.

Rob Johnston of CAD MicroSolutions will deliver the first webinar in this series where you will learn about the latest trends in measurement system technology.

Topics to be covered during this session include:

  • • Integration and use of PMI in Metrology
  • • Adoption of sensors on Robots
  • • Trends to move inspection close to the shop floor
  • • Re-using Metrology Infrastructure on Scanning Solutions
  • • Advanced Reverse Engineering to create Digital Twins and
  • • Live Q&A with metrology & 3D scanning expert Rob Johnston

Rob Johnston, Director of 3D Scanning & Metrology, CAD MicroSolutions

Who Should Attend?:
Anyone interested in learning more about Metrology Industry 4.0 technologies that will help your business innovate and improve productivity.


Join us on February 25th at 11 AM!


NOW HIRING: Computer Programmer Research Assistant position available with our Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre team

Computer Programmer Research Assistant, Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre Team

The successful candidate will work on a collaborative team to accomplish various programming tasks, including:  programming, testing and troubleshooting of interface software for development of web, cloud, and IoT technology services. 

Click HERE for the full job posting. The deadline to apply is Friday, January 29th, 2021 at 4pm.

To apply, please email your resume, cover letter and class schedule to [email protected] and reference job posting ‘COMPUTER PROGRAMMER ‐ WAMIC‘.

We thank all applicants; however, only those qualifying for an interview will be contacted.

The Globe and Mail: Gaining a competitive advantage through applied research

In its sponsored feature “Excellence in Research and Innovation,” The Globe and Mail today included a recent project between Niagara College’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC) and Handling Specialty, a Grimsby-based company that manufactures custom-engineered material handling products for clients worldwide.

The partnership involved WAMIC producing 3D-printed replicas of two large assembly equipment pieces for Handling Specialty for use in showcasing its company’s capabilities at tradeshows — saving in both transportation costs and its carbon footprint.

“An industry partner comes to us, and we establish objectives and deliverables,” says Gordon Maretzki, centre manager at WAMIC. “We have our research leads or our in-house faculty contributing to the project combined with the industry partners, who bring their expertise and resources. The third aspect is that every project includes students from our mechanical, electrical, electronic, engineering and even our computer technology programs.”

Read the Globe and Mail article 






Learn more about the Research & Innovation project here