The EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Additive Manufacturing will create a sustainable and multidisciplinary body of expertise that will act as a UK and international focus - the 'go to' place for additive manufacturing and its applications. The Centre will undertake a user-defined and user-driven programme of innovative research that underpins Additive Manufacturing as a sustainable and value-adding manufacturing process across multiple industry sectors.Additive Manufacturing (AM) is the direct production of end-use component parts made using additive layer manufacturing technologies. It enables the manufacture of geometrically complex, low to medium volume production components in a range of materials, with little, if any, fixed tooling or manual intervention beyond the initial product design. AM enables a number of value chain configurations, such as personalised component part manufacture but also economic low volume production within high cost base economies. This innovative approach to manufacturing is now being embraced globally across industry sectors from high value aerospace / automotive manufacture to the creative and digital industries. To date AM research has almost exclusively focused upon the production of single material, homogeneous structures (in polymers, metals and ceramics). The EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Additive Manufacturing will move away from single material, 'passive' AM processes and applications that exhibit conventional levels of functionality, toward the challenges of investigating next generation, multi-material active additive manufacturing processes, materials and design systems. This transformative approach is required for the production of the new generation of high-value, multi-functional products demanded by industry. The Centre will initially explore two themes as the centrepieces of a wider research portfolio, supported by a range of platform activities. The first theme takes on the challenge of how to design, integrate and effectively implement multi-material, multi-functional manufacturing systems capable of matching the requirements of industrial end-users for 'ready-assembled' multifunctional devices and structures. Working at the macro level, this will involve the convergence of several approaches to increase embedded value to the product during the manufacturing stage by the direct printing / deposition of electronic / optical tracks potentially on a voxel by voxel basis; the processing and bonding of dissimilar materials that ordinarily require processing at varying temperatures and conditions will be particularly challenging. The second theme will explore the potential for 'scaling down' AM for small, complex components, extending single material AM to the printing of optical / electronic pathways within micro-level products and with a vision to directly print electronics integrally. The platform activities will provide the opportunity to undertake both fundamental and industry driven pilot studies that both feed into and derive from the theme-based research, and grow the capacity and capability of the Centre, creating a truly national UK Centre and Network that maintains the UK at the front of international research and industrial exploitation in Additive Manufacturing.
|Effective start/end date||15/08/14 → 30/04/15|
- Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council