SAINT JOHN – The key chains produced by the new 3D printer at the Custom Fabricators and Machinists (CFM) shop on the city’s east side was for demonstration purposes only. But they showcased the potential to be unlocked in a marine industry revolutionized by this innovative way to manufacture components and parts for the marine, shipbuilding and defence industries.
About 100 people gathered at CFM Thursday morning for the official launch of the new Marine Additive Manufacturing Centre of Excellence (MAMCE) – the first centre of its kind to combine research, commercialization, as well as workforce development, and training in 3D metal manufacturing.
The new $1-million 3D printer – the GE Concept Laser M2 – was the star attraction. Businesses will now have access to experts in 3D metal printing and to a commercial 3D printer to provide stronger, cheaper and faster metal parts. The centre will also be an incubator for new commercial development.
“This the first facility in Canada to use [a printer of this kind] to manufacture and certify custom parts for the marine industry,” said Mohsen Mohammadi, a professor of mechanical engineering at University of New Brunswick (UNB) and the director of MAMCE. “Our doors are now open for research, projects and solutions to problems.”
This centre is a collaborative initiative that involves industry and education partners. UNB is MAMCE’s research and development partner. CFM, a J.D. Irving Limited (JDI) company, is the commercialization partner. The community colleges in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are the workforce development and training partners.
“Growth in innovation here at home leads to jobs and prosperity across the region,” said David Saucy, vice-president of the construction and equipment division of JDI. “The set-up of MAMCE is unique and different from all the manufacturing centres of excellence – the first 3D printer located … in a commercial workspace.”
“This unique setting will allow researchers, students from the community colleges, as well as our business development leads, to interact in a common and collaborative work environment.”
Saucy says custom fabricators and machinists have a “proud history” in the province’s shipbuilding and marine industry, and this will afford them the opportunity to be part of the workforce of the future.
“We are confident that additive manufacturing is a game-changing technology that will be a disruptive force in the manufacturing sector for years to come,” he said. “We look forward to working closely with UNB and the community colleges in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia to provide a hands-on for the next generation of workers in the advanced manufacturing industry.”
Laura Richard, director of research at the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation (NBIF) says the centre could also benefit startups and other small companies in the province.
“We’re particularly excited about the potential for local companies to benefit from this centre,” she said. “A significant part of our foundation’s work is focused on startups and small companies across the province. As such, we all too aware of the challenges they face competing in a global environment that’s in the midst of an advanced manufacturing revolution.”
“The capability that this centre offers is to network with academics and researchers, prototype on 3D printers, learn fast and thus evolve is a game-changer for these companies.”