Wayland Additive specialise in making electron beam (eBeam) Metal Additive Manufacturing (AM) more effective and efficient. The company began life in 2015 when a group of eBeam experts and additive manufacturing specialists came together to meet this challenge.
With a wealth of industry experience, the team has developed and commercialised the NeuBeam® AM process – designed to offer much greater flexibility than both existing eBeam and laser-based AM processes. This technology would go on to be used as part of the organisation’s flagship product, Calibur3, a large modular metal AM system, running an eBeam based process hot enough to melt metal powder.
Calibur3 provides a truly innovative solution for overcoming compromises that many companies using traditional metal AM processes are grappling with. The system promises to save customers both time and money, and allows them to revisit applications that they’d previously discounted as impossible or too difficult, therefore they can now consider using materials not traditionally associated with AM.
As the vision for Calibur3 progressed, the team at Wayland began their search for an organisation to design and manufacture a visually-striking, durable, modular, technology enclosure to house the system.
At the point of approaching Amcanu, Calibur3 was still a concept rather than a product. The challenge was to create a prototype that could be used for Wayland to launch to the market, and win over potential customers.
For a machine like Calibur3, which contains electron-beam based technology hot enough to melt metal powder, it’s reasonable to assume that any enclosure would have safety as its primary consideration. True, but beyond this, Wayland needed something aesthetically pleasing, which could optimise functionality, be easily maintained and look outstanding in an AM environment.
“I don’t know how Chris did it to be honest. He was brilliant. He turned the design into something that was producible and did it very quickly.”
Head of Mechanical Design
Initially the Amcanu team worked with product design specialists Papa Bravo to get the aesthetic of the enclosure to look as Wayland wanted. Experts in aesthetic and ergonomic product design, Papa Bravo created a concept that looked great on paper, but it was up to Amcanu’s Chris Rowlands, Head of Technical Design, to create something manufacturable.
We knew that Calibur3 was going to be large, huge in fact. We decided from the outset that we wanted it to look sleeker and a bit softer than many other machines that go into a pristine AM environment. With this in mind, we envisaged curved edges and some colour. A world away from the big grey metal boxes that dominate the market.
Business Development Director
Designed to be ergonomically-friendly for both the operating user and the service engineer, the enclosure has lift-off doors and hatches to enable easy access to all major components. The distinctive curved edges, and careful use of colour softens the appearance of the large Calibur3 metal enclosure, giving it a sleek, modern appearance.
The quality and workmanship of the enclosure complements the cutting-edge technology it protects, allowing it to fit seamlessly into a high-spec advanced manufacturing environment. Amcanu finished the enclosure using a high quality and robust electrostatic powder-coating process, ensuring durability over time. Using a combination of different cutting-edge technologies the surface was made chip and scratch resistant – significantly tougher than a traditional paint finish.
The unit is modular by construction, with each part of the enclosure designed to be easy to remove and replace if damaged. The enclosure is supplied with a technical manual with exploded views and numbered parts, meaning spare parts can easily be ordered if needed. This includes all surface panels, corner posts, doors, and access hatches.
The finished prototype was designed and manufactured on time and on budget, and shipped to Wayland to begin life as a proof-of-concept sales tool.
The prototype enclosure helped set constraints for the mechanical design team at Wayland to make improvements when the first orders for Calibur3 came in.
As the company moved towards building machines for their first customers, the Wayland production team fed back some crucial adjustments to the enclosure design – primarily that they wanted it to be fabricated in two parts. By creating assemblies and sub-assemblies it would be easier to install all the internal technology. This development also meant it would be more efficient on internal space and easier to manoeuvre.
In addition, at this point the team added a safe access platform to facilitate entry to the highest parts of the machine. This adjustment would make working on Calibur3 easier, and improve health and safety for machine operators.
Amcanu evolved their designs to reflect these changes, plus some other adjustments to improve efficiency and usability, in preparation for the manufacture of the first three production machines to be built for customers.
Following the build of these initial units, which have now been sold, more improvements were made through value engineering the design, and today the team are now on the third iteration of the enclosure.
Continual improvement is a crucial part of the manufacturing process and something that needs a good team, with an excellent working relationship. This is particularly important when it’s a new product coming to market.
The production of enclosures for Wayland is ongoing, they believe the potential for growth is huge, suggesting an annual sales turnover that could be worth around £100M by 2030. There are already 12 units planned for manufacture in 2023 with strong growth expected in subsequent years.
As Wayland’s expansion into the market continues, we plan to work closely together to make sure the enclosure continues to offer the best solution for the technology inside.