UK Consortium launches project to transform industrial additive manufacturing

A global consortium comprising leading industrial companies like Evo3D, Rolls-Royce, Filamentive, AI Build, and Baker Hughes has initiated a project aiming to transform UK’s industrial additive manufacturing. The National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) operated by the University of Strathclyde and a part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult (HVMC) also plays an important role in this project.

The project dubbed, Evo One ‘large format additive manufacturing’ (LFAM) is supported by Innovate UK, providing a grant of £1.1 million in total. The Evo One LFAM project is on the cusp of developing “a cutting-edge 3D printer system.” This new system has the potential to enhance UK’s manufacturing capabilities by introducing advanced processes for crafting high-value components. 

“We have a huge opportunity in the UK to be a leader in large format additive manufacturing. Putting the right technology in as many manufacturers’ hands as we can is a great base to build on, and having a UK-based OEM is the first step in that direction. With the right tools at our disposal, we can encourage more manufacturers of all sizes to embrace the latest manufacturing techniques and technologies, paving the way for a more sustainable and globally competitive sector. Our team, with specialisms ranging from digital process management to forging and forming, is supporting businesses across Scotland and the UK to innovate and transform what they do,” said Stephen Fitzpatrick, Director of Digital Factory at NMIS.

Rapid Fusion Pellet Extruder. Image via Evo3D.
Rapid Fusion Pellet Extruder. Image via Evo3D.

Project provides increased reliability and productivity for LFAM 3D printers

Utilizing the LFAM methodology, the commercial 3D printing technique excels in the fabrication of sizeable polymer components, presenting a notable advantage. Key sectors including aerospace, automotive, energy, and marine are poised to reap substantial advantages from this strategic pursuit. Although countries such as the United States, Germany, and China have readily adopted LFAM, the UK’s foothold in the worldwide additive manufacturing arena registers at a modest 5%. In response, the UK government has set a target to increase its market presence to 8% by 2025.

Presently, the UK lacks domestic manufacturers of large-format 3D printers, which limits national competitiveness in this rapidly evolving landscape. The Evo One LFAM initiative aims to mitigate these limitations and design a solution tailored to the UK’s market needs. The project team targets substantial enhancements, including a 60% increase in reliability, a 50% boost in productivity, a 30% reduction in training and maintenance expenses, and an 80% cut in material waste.

The NMIS team will offer comprehensive support across various specialized areas, including material analysis, design, and additive manufacturing processes. It will also oversee system validation, verification, and the utilization of high-value materials. Rolls-Royce and Baker Hughes will conduct system testing upon readiness, while AI Build will aid in advancing slicing technology development.

Upon project completion, Evo3D seeks to create RapidFusion, unveiling the UK’s first original equipment manufacturer (OEM) in LFAM. Doing so will bolster the supply chain, relocate vital manufacturing capabilities, and equip UK manufacturers with a dynamic platform to leverage Industry 4.0, says the consortium.

Groundbreaking project to bring high-value 3D printing to UK. Image via NMIS.
Groundbreaking project to bring high-value 3D printing to the UK. Image via NMIS.

Large format 3D printing systems

German plastic machinery OEM KraussMaffei introduced its new large-scale extrusion-based 3D printer, the powerPrint. Tailored for efficient additive manufacturing of sizable, near-net-shape components, powerPrint integrates swift setup, high output, and rapid 3D printing speeds. Unveiled at the K 2022 trade show, it caters to industries demanding substantial, consistently high-quality large-format objects.

US 3D printer manufacturer 3D Systems and Japanese product design company SWANY collaborated to promote large-format pellet extrusion 3D printing in Japan. SWANY’s demo center, opening in October in Nagano Prefecture, will feature 3D Systems’ EXT 1070 Titan Pellet 3D printer, showcasing pellet-extrusion’s potential for additive and subtractive production of sizable parts. The center will offer 3D printing services and design support, while both companies will jointly develop 3D printing parameters for mass production and recycled pellets, aligned with the Upcycling Workspace (UCWS) initiative in Nagano Prefecture.

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Featured image shows Rapid Fusion Pellet Extruder. Image via Evo3D.