WAMIC’s 3D printing and design expertise help solve Airbus’ identification obstacles


Former Research & Innovation alumni and Niagara College grad, Brock Husak, now a Manufacturing Project Engineer at Airbus, knew who to call when a recurring issue identifying brackets arose on the shop floor.

Each bracket is part of a latch assembly. The latch assembly is used on two different panels; these panels are at the top of the aircraft (H130) and surround the engine. These latches serve the same purpose the latch on the hood of your car does, to allow technicians access to the engine while also ensuring the cover stays securely in place during flight. The reason these panels have latches and hinges is for servicing the engine. Otherwise, panels get permanently fixed to the aircraft using fasteners.

“Brock came to us with an idea of what he was looking for and had some CAD files he shared in advance, which helped us hit the ground running,” said Brian Klassen, Research Laboratory Technologist at the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC).

Brian led the design of the project by using the provided CAD models to create an offset mating surface for each part. A solid body was created under each mating surface and arranged on a plate to create the final identification fixture. A laser etched plate was added to show the identification numbers for the fixture and each part individually.

The identification fixture that WAMIC created is used for four small brackets that look identical at first glance but aren’t. The left and right parts are mirrors of one another and a slight curve is the only way to tell them apart.

They have an identification number on them, but after they are painted, that number is no longer visible, so the Airbus team must spend time sorting and re-identifying each bracket.

The manual identification process can leave room for error.  An improperly identified bracket can affect critical things down the line, such as installation, not to mention the time and resources it takes to have a team member re-do and reinstall things over again.

With this new identification fixture, now when the painting is complete, they use the fixture by placing the piece into one of the four brackets. If it fits, it correlates with the respective identification number.

“For Airbus, it’s a capacity issue. We’re busy dealing with technical and manufacturing issues on a day-to-day basis, and these are the types of projects that can take a few weeks to complete. By outsourcing a project like this, we can keep our focus on production as the tool/ fixture is designed. I knew this was a perfect fit for WAMIC, so we called upon them to be our extra set of hands.”

– Brock Husak, Manufacturing Project Engineer, Airbus

This fixture is now used for sorting so that Airbus can be confident that brackets are being identified correctly.

“This fixture is a great organization tool for us because time is money and by using this fixture to properly identify the brackets, we’re saving money by not having to re-do work and it keeps our workflow moving forward at the speed of business,” said Brock.

Tapping into WAMIC’s expertise in 3D printing and design was a no-brainer, he added: “For Airbus, it’s a capacity issue. We’re busy dealing with technical and manufacturing issues on a day-to-day basis, so these types of projects that take a few weeks to complete but can be outsourced and have a positive impact on our productivity, are a perfect fit for WAMIC. We called upon them to be our extra set of hands,” he said.

WAMIC co-op students got the chance to visit Airbus’s location in Fort Erie, at the beginning of the project when Brian was picking up parts. They got the chance to speak with the industry partner, learn more about the project, and get exposure to a real-world manufacturing shop.

“For a student, this is the type of project that they could expect to work on, if they apply for a research assistant co-op position with WAMIC,” said Brian. “They get to finesse their design skills and learn more about 3D printing and will be exposed to all different companies across the Niagara region, which is valuable down the line when they go to apply for real-world jobs,” he added.

The partnership between Airbus and WAMIC is a positive and ongoing one, with more projects anticipated to be coming down the pipeline to keep WAMIC students and staff busy in the coming months.

Companies with similar technology challenges can access Technical Services at WAMIC, located at the Welland Campus of Niagara College. The Centre provides a key competitive advantage to industry, offering access to cutting-edge equipment – and related services – for the development of products and manufacturing processes. By working with WAMIC, your company is also investing in the skills and training of students and future leaders in the manufacturing industry. 


  • • Technical services including: 3D Printing, 3D Design, 3D Measurement and Scanning Automation: Mechanizing a process to decrease human labour and increase efficiency Product design and development: Creating a new product for deployment within your business or to be sold to a customer Reverse engineering: Discovering the technological principles of a device, object or system through analysis of its structure and functions Product re-design and improvement: Revamping an existing product to improve quality and/or adapt to changing market conditions 


You can learn more about WAMIC’s resources and capabilities by visiting our website

Start the conversation with us today. Together, we will determine how best to meet your needs, whether we perform a quick turnaround service, or a full innovation project. For research and development partnership opportunities, contact David DiPietro, Manager, Business Development, at [email protected].