OCE supports industry-academic collaborations to promote manufacturing innovation

March 24, 2015

By Anne Kershaw

Innovation in advanced manufacturing that will improve productivity and the quality of products in various industrial areas is now underway as a result of a commercialization initiative spearheaded by Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE).

OCE, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME) and NSERC partnered earlier this year to support collaborative R&D in the province’s manufacturing sector through a $2 million Made-in-Ontario Advanced Manufacturing R&D challenge to develop and commercialize innovative and internationally competitive products.

This has resulted in industry-academic collaborations being funded by OCE and NSERC in areas such as polymer bearing material for vertical pumps and steam turbines; micro welding for improving productivity and quality of manufactured products in many industrial sectors; higher productivity and quality in gear shaping and grinding operations, and creation of commercial medical imaging technology for use in hospitals and pharmacies.

“With advanced manufacturing as a primary focus at OCE, we have launched a number of initiatives aimed at developing the next generation of innovative technologies and boosting Canada’s global competitiveness,” says OCE President Dr. Tom Corr.

McMaster University and Thordon Bearings Inc.

Grease-free bearings, which minimize expenses associated with both maintenance and environmental disposal by operating without lubricants, are becoming attractive to many industrial sectors as a replacement for metallic bearings.  Lead researcher Dr. Michael Thompson at McMaster University is working to identify the raw polymeric materials that can be used in blends to improve bearing performance while operating in hot water and steam conditions. This stable material can be used as lubricated bearings in vertical pumps, steam turbines, or other rotating equipment using journal bearings operating in high temperatures. Another challenge is developing an advanced manufacturing process under which bearings can be mass produced in different shapes and sizes at a competitive price.

University of Waterloo and Huys Industries Ltd.  

A micro-welding process known as electro spark deposition (ESD) is increasingly being used to apply surface coatings for repair of damaged high-value precision products or to modify their surfaces for a broad range of aerospace, defense, automobile, nuclear and medical applications. Huys Industries Ltd., a leading company on resistance welding consumables, has developed expertise in the use of ESD coating to improve the life of electrode tips in resistance spot welding (RSW) of zinc-coated automotive steel sheets. In collaboration with the University of Waterloo, Huys has recently developed new ESD technologies (ESD machines and coating materials) to improve RSW electrode tip life.  Now research is being undertaken by Dr. Norman Zhou at the University of Waterloo to further develop Huys' patented and patent-pending ESD applicators and power supplies and expand their applications on other coating and work piece combinations. This research has the potential to improve productivity and quality of manufactured products in many industrial sectors.

Dr. Kaan Erkorkmaz and Ontario Drive & Gear Ltd. 

This project will develop new technologies for achieving higher productivity and quality in gear shaping and grinding operations. The results will enable Ontario Drive & Gear (ODG), whose products are used  in many sectors including industry, automotive, aerospace, high tech and military, to boost its global competitiveness by offering higher quality products at more affordable costs to its customers. Achieving high part quality in the gear shaping process requires new understanding of the physics involved in this operation to be established. On the other hand, accelerating the dressing (i.e., abrasive preparation) operation in the grinding process can lead to product errors. Research is being conducted by Dr. Kaan Erkorkmaz at the University of Waterloo toward gaining a better understanding of the cutting mechanics, force generation, elastic deformations, and vibrations associated with the shaping of gears, and new techniques of accelerating the grinding operation by mitigating the form errors which occur at high dressing rates. These investigations will allow company engineers to achieve the highest product quality and productivity

Carleton University and Best Theratronics Ltd.

This project aims to develop an important component of a commercial system for producing a medical imaging isotope used to diagnose cancer and heart disease.  The challenge is to convert laboratory-scale technologies to an automated 'turnkey' isotope separation-and-purification unit that addresses the special care required to process radioactive chemicals, explains Carleton University researcher Dr. Glenn McRae.  The separation-and-purification unit, which will be housed at hospitals and regional pharmacies and routinely operated by technologists, requires  a small 'footprint' and must be robust, easy to maintain and able to provide a cost-effective supply of the special isotopes used in medical diagnostic procedures.