by Chuck Black
If you want to talk to a Canadian expert in 3D printing technology, then you want to talk to Gilles Desharnais.
Desharnais is the president of Axis Prototypes, a Quebec based pioneer in rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing. His firm is one of the largest of its kind in Canada and he’s been doing this sort of thing for a very long time.
“These days, we’re mostly focused on growing metal technologies for security, defence and aerospace applications,” he said during a recent interview. Of course, that doesn't mean that traditional areas of the expertise are neglected. Axis machines also create parts and tools using a variety of photopolymers, nylons, metals and thermoplastics.
“Our new methodologies are very versatile. They require fewer raw materials, create lighter weight final products, take far less time to set up and often even allows us to build one part which does the work of two or more parts built using traditional manufacturing methodologies.”
All this also means lower tooling costs, often by as much as 40%, according to Desharnais.
Axis has built prototypes for healthcare (using USP class VI prototype materials, ISO 10993 certified prototype materials, and certified biocompatible prototype materials), aeronautics (using FAR25.853 certified prototype materials), sports, consumer goods, dental and telecommunications industry and is also an approved supplier of Ford, General Motors, and many other tier 1, 2, and 3 automotive suppliers.
According to Desharnais, the long term objective at Axis, is to develop a production environment. “It’s one thing to be able to build a rapid prototype; it’s another thing entirely to be able to build the entire factory.”
Based on the speed at which the industry is moving forward and developing new capabilities, it’s quite possible that Desharnais’ dream may become a reality quite soon.