Welding based Additive Manufacturing for Industry 4.0

Dr. M.Sowrirajan 

Associate Professor
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Coimbatore Institute of Engineering and Technology
Coimbatore-641 109
(Mobile: 9943198575 / 7904471769)

Scopus ID Googlescholar ORCID ID http://www.cietcbe.edu.in/

Industry 4.0 has now been transforming various processes of the world’s manufacturing industry including welding towards complete automation. This technology is being believed to be the fourth industrial revolution with the available latest developments that happened in science and technology. In fact, the first industrial revolution was renovated the hand operations to the steam and water-powered machines followed by second and third industrial revolutions were evolved as technological and digital revolutions respectively with electricity and computer technologies. This article presents light on the concept of welding technology to become a potential candidate for Industry 4.0.

Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 (I4) is known globally from German for the fourth industrial revolution actually refers to the intelligent networking of processes and machines towards the complete automation by availing the recent information and communication technologies such as cyber-physical systems, the Internet of things, big data and cloud computing. The manufacturing industry that adopts this trend of automation and data exchange technologies will become the factory of future world with a pride term of ‘smart factory’. Already the worldwide process of setting up the smart factories is rigorously underway as I4 demonstrats its ability to stretch the benefits like improved productivity, agility, high revenue, reduced cost etc. Although a smart factory is easy to speak, it is not that much easy to achive in reality. Additive Manufacturing (AM) is the current trend of automation and data exchange in almost all the manufacturing processes now. It includes cyber-physical systems, the Internet of things and cloud computing and thus, Industry 4.0 creates what has been called a “smart factory”.

Evolution of welding

The discovery of welding is so valuable critical steps in metal fabrication towards a modern society. The beginnings of welding days originally back thousands of years. The history of fusing metals were undergone in the range of 3000 B.C. especially when humans working with bronze metals. Further developments have produced golden boxes, jewelry, weapons and dining utensials to benefit peoples. Though use of charcoal for the pressure-weld of swords becomes familiar among Egyptians, iron melting became very popular in 1500 B.C. Further, welders have started fused the variety of metals including copper, silver, bronze, gold, iron and steel in next thousands of years and also over time welding was progressed to metal joining.

Some of the modern welding techniques were established during the  next days of Industrial Revolution. Further, over the years, especially 19th and 20th centuries of  developments made the welding as advanced significant process not only for metal joining but also for surfacing to enhance the surface properties of existing metal components. This obviously includes weld metal cladding and weld hard facing to resist corrosion and to enhance the wear properties as well. The deposition of metals to enhace the surface properties called surfacing become more accurate, fast, and effective.

The surfacing concept is nowadays progressed towards the real time fabrication of metal components using the available and suitable welding processes after the famous of Additive Manufacturing (AM) concepts. Therefore, Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM) is a trendy welding based additive manufacturing process used to 3D print metal parts. This WAAM uses a suitable welding process for melting the metal electrode and depositing metal layers over another to cope up with the Additive Manufacturing (AM) concept to suit Industy 4.0 for the fabrication of metallic components. This trendy fabrication is being one of the very fastest and well growing field of  engineering fabrication.

Thus the welding proceses in Industry 4.0 are believed to be the significant processes for the real time digital and automated fabrication of metal components in future.
The evolution of welding towards welding based additive manufacturing is illustrated in Figure 1.

Figure 1 Evolution of welding