By Kari Williamson

The DST has allocated R28 million to the CSIR and as part of this, the CSIR has had to invest in a specialised laser source to the value of R10m.

CSIR’s Prof Federico Sciammarella, says: “This system will be the first of its kind in the world as it will be able to build parts with an envelope of 2 x ½ metres; this is critical when making components for the aerospace industry that require precision and high quality.”

He adds: “This system will place South Africa on the forefront of additive manufacturing technology and enable the aerospace industry to produce parts for the global community.”

Laser metals deposition technology

CSIR has also secured grants from NRF and the dti’s AISI to invest in a research and development (R&D) facility to focus on powder blown laser metals deposition additive manufacturing technology, or the laser engineered net shaping (LENS) technology. The equipment is already being installed at NLC’s laboratories.

The LENS technology offers the opportunity to create 3-D parts without the need of any specialised tooling. It also has the capability to refurbish components.

Aerospace manufacturing centre

The Aerosud Process Development group has moved in at the heart of the Centurion Aerospace Village (CAV) in the Innovation & Training Centre II (ITC-2), where the process development focuses on improving the manufacturing capability of the South African aerospace industry.

The Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) and Department of Science and Technology (DST), through Technology and Innovation Agency (TIA) and CSIR has partnered with Aerosud and other industry players in the development and commercialisation of manufacturing technologies.

The ITC-2 will also function as a technology incubator and support facility to the larger CAV community.

Aerosud Process Development consists of several research groups, including the “Additive Manufacture”, which will focus on the manufacture of highly complex aircraft parts via laser melting of metal powders such as titanium and cobalt-chrome; and the “Metal Technology”, forming, joining and mechanical/ thermal/ chemical processing of aluminium and titanium alloys for aerospace applications.