University of New Brunswick launches marine centre of excellence

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UNB launches marine centre of excellence
WATCH ABOVE: The University of New Brunswick has launched a first of its kind research centre for the manufacturing and maintenance of the marine and defence industries. Global’s Jeremy Keefe explains – May 25, 2017

The University of New Brunswick has broken ground in the research and development of new shipbuilding technology, launching the Marine Additive Manufacturing Centre of Excellence.

The research centre will push forward 3D metal-printing technology in place of conventional manufacturing methods which should alleviate the current long wait times required for the creation of necessary parts.

“Right now the problem that we have is the long lead times with some of the marine related and defence related parts,” explained Dr. Mohsen Mohammadi, the centre’s director. “It takes time to make them using casting or forging … with this technology it takes so much less actually to print them.”

While it’s a new development in Canada elsewhere in the world, 3D printing for use in marine vessels is becoming commonplace which Mohammadi said makes the need to research and expand on the new technology that much greater.

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“If we don’t practice it we will lose our competitiveness in the global market,” he said.

Carter Baxter, a Master’s student in engineering at UNB, said the launch of the research centre for him is thrilling.

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“I grew up in Saint John and now I’m living in Fredericton and I’d like to stay in New Brunswick so it’s pretty exciting,” he said.

This announcement gives students and young engineers like Baxter the ability to not only work but spur innovation in the field they’ve chosen.

“It takes a lot longer to conventionally machine something and a 3D printer does it automatically,” he explained. “As soon as you put the part into the printer, from that time on the laser starts to go and you just manufacture it layer by layer.”

“We see ourselves as the eventual end user of the technologies that are going to come out of this,” explained Irving Shipbuilding Inc. president Kevin McCoy.

“Today if we need a part, it could be a pump shaft or a gear, it may be months before that part is available from the manufacturing line,” McCoy said. “The promise of this technology is in a very rapid amount of time … we can get that pump in days or weeks instead of months.”

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The Marine Additive Manufacturing Centre of Excellence is a combined project between UNB, New Brunswick Community College (NBCC) and initial partners Lockheed Martin Canada and Irving Shipbuilding Inc.

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