The Integrated and Advanced Manufacturing Research Group at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria conducts research into manufacturing processes. The group's studies encompass various established research areas, including polymer processing, additive manufacturing, natural fibers, and biomanufacturing.
The university research group's activities focus on university courses, public and private research. Most research projects are publicly funded with the goal of generating knowledge and developing R&D and innovative technologies for society. However, projects are also developed for various types of private entities in fields such as aeronautics, metallurgy, and agriculture.
The Group made an objective is to develop copper electrical discharge machining (EDM) electrodes using metal fused filament fabrication (FFF) developed by 3D printing specialist Markforged. The primary goal was to leverage the technology to address new challenges and discovering innovative manufacturing solutions. The company's Metal X 3D printers and similar systems were acquired by the university for research in producing metal components using additive manufacturing (AM), complementing the various conventional processes the research group employs (subtractive manufacturing, casting, and deformation).
Currently, spark erosion is the technique primarily used to manufacture complex parts from hard or difficult-to-machine metals. Generally, it works with conducting materials, but insulating ceramics can also be processed under certain conditions.
In June 2021, the client selected the Markforged Metal X 3D and Mark Two printers. These were chosen specifically because they can be used to research making metal and thermoplastic compounds.
The group faced challenges related to the financial cost of investment and the inability to produce metal parts with complex geometric designs using their own equipment at a reasonable price.
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