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Jun 7

Cimetrix Sponsorship Propells Creation of Ontario's 1st Racing Submarine

For a number of years, Cimetrix Solutions has been involved in a wide variety of student-driven inititatives, partnering with some of the nation's most innovative groups and institutions to implement additive manufacturing solutions for many applications. Involvement in these inititatives provides multi-faceted, reciprocal benefit for these student initiatives, as well as for us here at Cimetrix. Working with many teams for a number of years has fostered strong relationships with these insitutions; along the way, the benefits of such a partnership become obvious, with students gaining hands-on experience collaborating with professionals and technologies that are commonplace in their desired career path.


With this in mind, our group of Applciations Specialists absolutely welcomes the formation of new partnerships; the chance to apply our technology for new and exciting applications, as well as support innovative initiatives stemming from within Canada, is not lost upon the team here at Cimetrix. Having become involved in a number of new partnerships over the past academic year, one that stands out is our sponsorship of the Waterloo Submarine Racing Team.

Exploring New Territory

Having supported a number of teams from within the University of Waterloo, our team jumped at the chance to become a part of the first submarine racing team in Ontario. Being the first of its kind from the provice, the team has been faced with a great number of challenges in their inaugral year. Not only having to completely design a submarine from scratch, the team is faced with learning the processes behind creating components for their sumbarine, named AMY, as well as optimizing designs for these processes. As expected, this process is riddled with a great deal of trial and error. Burdened with timeline and costing constraints typical of the manufacturing world, the team came to Cimetrix for insight and recommendations on manfacturing a key component of their sub - the propeller blades.

“I'm really excited to know that Cimetrix is interested in building a partnership. It will be of great benefit to have your services, resources, and experience available to the team in our inaugural year.”

Forward Propulsion with FDM

With these blades being a key component of the AMY's drivetrain, the team came looking for a highly-accurate process that would be able to produce a strong, reliable end-use propeller blade. Furthermore, with a tight testing schedule over the winter, the team was looking to sidestep the traditional manufacturing route for one that was time and cost effective, as well as providing flexibility with their manufacturing schedule. Finally, with the propeller blade being over 12" long, the team needed a process capable of creating components, organic in shape, of this magnitude. Keeping these factors in mind, our Applications Specialists decided on Fused Deposition Modelling technology (FDM), utilizing real world engineering thermoplastics, as the optimal process for producing these blades.

Production of these parts was handlded by our two Fortus 450mc 3D Printers; with an unmatched variety of engineering thermoplastics, and large build envelope, this printing platform is the workhorse of our Innovation Centre. After considering a number of material options, including PC and ULTEM, our team decided on ASA as the optimal material for this application. Not only boasting the best surface finish availible on FDM machines, this material exhibits great strength characteristics and UV resistance. Furthermore, compatibility with our vapour smoothing hardware meant that this component would be completely watertight, an important consideration for the team.

The propeller blade pre (top) and post (bottom) vapour smoothing

Upon receiving the parts, the team was ecstatic with the end result, impressed with the fit, finish, and function of these end-use parts. Not only did the parts bolt right up to the sub, but the ASA material used for construction meant that the propeller performance was equally matched to ones created traditionally, at a fraction of the cost and lead time. After receiving the final part data, the propeller blades were turned around within a week, much faster than the traditional methods used for manufacturing. This quick turnaround time allowed the team to shift their focus to other outstanding items on the sub, knowing that the blades exceeded their requirements. After  in-water testing, the blades continue to perform excellently, and show little signs of wear and tear. Seeing how successful additive manufacturing had been in one application, the team realized that the technology would be advantageous far beyond this single application.

“We were really impressed by the quality of the prints last time around on the blades. After seeing their performance, appearance, and durablity, this made us change our mind on manufacturing methods on some of the [other] parts.”

Local Industry & Academia: A Recipe for Success

Not only providing students with unparalleled access to state-of-the-art additive manufacturing technologies,  we work with students to provide design optimization and consultation services in order to maximize the end result of our sponsorships. Furthermore, these partnerships provide students with hands-on, real-world experience collaborating with industry professionals, experience that is invaluable once students move beyond the academic world and into the workforce. For over 22 years, Cimetrix has been supporting the integration of 3D printing into Canadian industry and academia, providing our nation's leaders with innovative additive manufacturing solutions tailored for even the most challenging applications. Equipped with a state-of-the-art Innovation Centre, and representing an entire lineup indsutry-leading additive manufacturing technologies, Cimetrix Solutions has the tools and experience to make your ideas a reality. For more, please contact our team of Applications Specialists.