May 31, 2012, by Tara de Cozar
3D printing – watch this space
Have been talking to the engineers setting up the (deep breath, because this is a mouthful…) EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Additive Manufacturing at the University. The centre will launch on July 1st, home to more than 40 researchers. They’re among the best in the world in the field of 3D printing and additive manufacturing. The manufacturing is ‘additive’ because it builds up the part or prototype, rather than cutting it from a bigger shape, as happens in the traditional ‘subtractive’ process.
New labs are currently being set up so the centre and associated uni research group – the Additive and Manufacturing and 3D Printing Research Group. They’re also currently building their websites, so once everything’s up and running we’ll be issuing a press release giving more detail about their work. It’s very visual though. The 3D printers essentially build up components in layers. As a non-engineer (and geek) I immediately thought of the Replicators in Star Trek. Could this be how they work…? One to ask the experts when I’m writing the release I think.
Anyway, speculation aside, the possibilities here are really interesting. 3D printing is currently used primarily in R&D to build prototypes, but our researchers want to get to the stage when you’re building parts and products using the technique – including electrical circuits. It’s really exciting, and the focus will be here at The University of Nottingham! One of the possibilities for the future is that rather than printing parts for a phone, you print the whole phone. Now, as I’ve said before, I’m no engineer, but this sounds very very cool to me.
There was a nice piece on Sky News recently that should give you a taster. I’ll post web addresses and links to the press release once these are up and running.
For more info in the meantime though, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
As an aside, when I met Martin and Richard Hague, who’s the Director of the new centre, we had coffee in the Coates Cafe. It was the first time I’ve been there since the new Engineering and Science Learning Centre was built. It’s a lovely place for a chat. Recommend.