Custom printing solution for industry partner

Dave McKechnie, Research Laboratory Technologist at the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre, gets extrusion tips ready to perform a print job on the lab’s Fortus 900mc 3D printer.

When a local lighting manufacturer needed to print a large model of a custom light fixture and their in-house printing could not accommodate, they turned to technology solutions at the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC) at Niagara College.

Founded in 1995, BJ Take Inc. is an established manufacturer and designer of energy-efficient lighting products. Their 56,000-sq.ft. facility is located in Dunnville and all innovation is custom designed and built in Canada.

The company needed a 2-foot-diameter print that their in-house printer could not achieve, says Josh Buma, Chief Operating Officer at BJ Take.

“The challenge was to produce a 1:1 scale model to test out the mechanical aspects of our light fixture design,” explains Buma. “We needed someone with the capabilities to print large models with high resolution and Niagara College fit the bill perfectly.”

It was a straightforward job for the research team as the industry partner supplied ready-to-print STLs – a type of 3D file that represents the model of interest, says Dave McKechnie, Research Laboratory Technologist at WAMIC.

“The purpose of the STL is to view the part, perform automated fabrication practices and possibly most importantly, to protect the design,” he says. “I appreciate when clients like BJ Take have the in-house skill and engineering expertise to provide 3D models that I trust and can process without any further engineering or added lead time.”

The research team printed the model on the Fortus 900mc, the largest FDM (Fused Deposition Modelling) engineering polymer printer available, providing a wide selection of engineering materials for medical, dental, aerospace, automotive, food production and general manufacturing.

“The Research & Innovation division was a pleasure to work with,” adds Buma. “They turned our model around quickly and to our specifications.”

Located at the Welland Campus of Niagara College, the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre is one of two of NC’s Technology Access Centres (TACs) – the other being the Canadian Food & Wine Institute Innovation Centre. TACs are specialized applied research and development centres affiliated with Canadian colleges or cégeps.

The Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre and the TAC provides small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) access to needed facilities, equipment, funding and technical expertise – including 3D technologies, such as Computer-Aided Design (3D scanning) of objects as small as a dime and as large as a whole factory – and serves to assist them in product development, technology adoption, expansion into new markets and commercialization.

For more information on the array of solutions offered by the technical services at WAMIC, visit the website.