Additive Manufacturing Technologies Ltd. (AMT) will receive a £624,000 ($782,000) grant from Innovate UK to refine a new automated post-processing method for 3D printed parts. The Sheffield company will work within a consortium along with fellow British company Xaar (LON:XAR) who produced inkjet printheads.
The government-run Innovate UK is an driver of change in the UK’s manufacturing industry. It operates in a similar to the way the America Makes program that funds additive manufacturing developments in the US.
So far in 2017, Innovate UK has also launched a project encouraging the use of 3D design in British industry. In the past they also backed the Bloodhound Supersonic Car, which hopes to break the land speed record through use of 3D printed components.
Post processing in 3D printing
One of the restrictions of 3D printing is that parts sometimes require sanding, or chemical treatments to achieve the right finish. PostPro3D is AMT’s patent-pending technology that hopes to revolutionize this process.
PostPro3D uses PUSh process algorithm developed at the University of Sheffield and exclusively licensed to AMT. The process “produces a smooth surface finish on thermoplastic polymer 3D Printed parts” through smart machine-learning, i.e. artificial intelligence.
PostPro3D has been trialled on a range of popular 3D materials such as Nylon 12 – a polymer with high tensile strength and hardness often used in medical devices. It has also been tested by sports brand Under Armour in the SLS 3D printed midsole of the Architech Basketball Sneaker. The Marylan HQ company are also incidentally looking to expand their product lines into the wearable-tech market.
In a statement concerning the grant, AMT CEO Joseph Crabtree comments;
The Innovate UK funding award is a significant step in the development of the proven PostPro3D technology which provides the ‘missing piece’ in the digital manufacturing chain. We are looking forward to working with OEM industrial partners to implement this technology into their 3D printing digital factories.
Don’t forget to make your nominations for the 1st Annual 3D Printing Industry Awards. Nominations are closing soon.
Featured image shows the 3D printed sole of an Under Armour sneaker, integrated with PostPro3D processing. Photo via Under Armour