As the frontrunner in industrial technology skills and equipment in Northern Ontario, the Innovation Centre for Advanced Manufacturing and Prototyping (ICAMP) is living its vision to help businesses of all sizes bring quality products to market and find success.
ICAMP, located in North Bay, has 13,300 square feet of industrial laboratory and design space. Clients can access the space, machinery, and expertise for research and training, demonstrations and testing, and prototype manufacturing.
With access to what they need but don’t have in house, ICAMP’s industry partners create more products, become more competitive, and bolster the economy in Northern Ontario and beyond.
ICAMP’s team of engineers, technicians, technologists, project managers, and grant writers have worked on more than 700 projects, helping close to 300 businesses. Projects range from short-term technical assistance to multi-year, complex applied research projects.
Providing access to additive manufacturing
A popular and ongoing need among the engineering and manufacturing community is access to 3D printing. In this area, TriMech Technologies has been an essential partner for ICAMP, which relies on TriMech’s expertise and support.
ICAMP recently purchased two industrial 3D printers from TriMech – the Stratasys F900 and the Stratasys 450mc, along with licenses to use all available print materials.
These two systems are the Stratasys workhorses, made for shops that need the ability to print large and/or multiple parts using a variety of engineering-grade materials. They deliver designs from the screen to real life in hours, whether they’re making functional prototypes or manufacturing tools.
The F900 is the ultimate production 3D printer. It prints the widest variety of durable materials and has the largest build platform and the highest accuracy and precision.
Sarah Rienguette is ICAMP’s project leader. She recognized that they needed to increase their capability in fused deposition modelling (FDM) technology to continue to meet clients’ needs. Before investing in the Stratasys F900 and F450mc, ICAMP had only one small FDM printer – a Mojo using ABS material – for clients who needed to print in thermoplastic.
“We needed to invest in FDM technology on a larger scale, not only to be able to print more, but also because clients need stronger parts for jigs and fixtures. Clients in mining, aviation, consumer products, and the arts community are all interested in using the F900.”
Printing complex parts in metal
ICAMP also offers 3D printing in metal, which can be used to make lighter parts using a complex internal lattice structure.
Some parts can’t be fabricated any other way. In one interesting case, ICAMP helped a client reverse engineer and replace parts for a 60-year-old machine; in another, they made tiny, complex tooling for future deep space mining applications, such as drilling on the moon.
Bringing products to market
Sarah explained that clients might not yet know what they need to access throughout the phases of bringing their product to market.
“We are always introducing various technologies to clients who either don’t know much about them yet or aren’t ready to bring them into their own shops.”
Commercialization is where ICAMP stepped in to bring a TriMech-designed product to market – the ProtectON face shield, which is now being manufactured by North Bay Plastics.
Also in response to COVID-19, ICAMP secured the F450mc primarily to help clients respond to the pandemic by changing what they produce or adding new products.
TriMech is a long-time partner
About 10 years ago, Canadore College President George Burton had a vision for an innovation centre – a sandbox – to promote the health and growth of local industry. He put the pieces together for ICAMP based on examples from around the world and with a lot of input from the business community about what emerging technologies were on their wish list.
ICAMP Director Brad Gavan explained how TriMech was the first company they visited when starting the innovation centre.
“TriMech opened our eyes to the possibilities of 3D printing,” he said. “We toured their Oakville location and envisioned how ICAMP could be a leader. TriMech has always believed in ICAMP and we value the partnership with the whole team. They have been a lifeline and we continue to learn a lot from each other. I hope and expect that to continue moving forward.”
Sarah says her team and TriMech work well together and she appreciates TriMech ’s support.
“They are knowledgeable and responsive. I can always get answers to my questions. Recently we installed the two printers with virtual tech help and it went really well.”
Quickly and close to home
Sarah is proud of all that ICAMP can do for northern Ontario companies. She said people are often surprised at the capabilities they have in North Bay.
“A local company had someone here from the U.S. doing maintenance and repairs. A piece of the machine broke and we were able to 3D print a part for them right away, quickly and close to home.”
She also noted that ICAMP clients learn how to use the technology and find clever applications that inspire her. She enjoys inspiring them in return.
“We get to know the clients so when we see examples of how others are using the technology, we can bring it to the clients and say, ‘I think this is a good fit for you.’”
Brad added that, as ICAMP’s network expands, so does their impact beyond Northern Ontario.
“We are getting interest from across Canada and all over the world. It’s because we have great staff delivering on projects and fantastic partners like TriMech. We listen and we’re nimble.”
He said the future is at least partially unknown and that’s what makes it exciting.
“We’re waiting for the next idea. Clients come to us and say, ‘I’d like to do this’ or ‘Have you thought of this?’ At the same time, our employees and students will continue to suggest equipment and technology we should have.”
Learn more about ICAMP at canadorecollege.ca/icamp.