Innovate UK is helping to fuel innovation in Britain’s additive manufacturing sector, from automated AM software to industrial 3D printing standards. Recently, we heard about a particularly exciting project that has received £2.25 million in backing from the government agency. The project in question,
The joint project seeks to use particle beam technology to create a new electron beam additive manufacturing (EBAM) process that will be capable of faster and more cost-efficient production. The partners say the process could ultimately have applications in the aerospace and medical sector, producing complex, high precision components.
The particle beam project actually consists of two separate programs that Huddersfield-based Reliance Precision is working on with the University of Huddersfield. Professor Jaap Van Den Berg, from the university, has played a critical role in both legs of the research, leveraging his expertise in ion beam technology to develop the technology.
The first project, which received funding of £1.4 million, was aimed at developing “Reliable Additive Manufacturing technology offering higher Productivity and Performance” (RAMP-UP), a process which reduces the need for metal powders in AM to undergo the costly pre-sintering process. The success of this project—which is now awaiting patent approval—has led the two partners to work together again.
The new project, a two-year program called INSPIRE, has received £850,000 in funding and seeks to fully eliminate the pre-sintering stage. The INSPIRE project also aims to recycle and reuse metal powders using EBAM technology. If this is achieved, electron beam additive manufacturing has the potential to become more productive and more economic than ever before—two factors which would push forward the technology’s adoption.
Professor Van Den Berg will work closely with Research Fellow Dr. Andrew Rossall and Reliance Precision to develop the technology at the University of Huddersfield’s Ion Beam Centre, which itself houses the world-class Medium Energy Ion Scattering (MEIS) facility. Specifically, Professor Van Den Berk will be working on converting an existing experimental system within the MEIS lab to lead the INSPIRE project’s R&D ahead.