Established in 1990, Xaar plc are leaders of inkjet printhead manufacturing and headquartered in Cambridge, UK. With printing applications in laminates, packaging, graphics, ceramics and direct-to-shape jetting, the company have opened a specialist 3D printing center in Nottingham, UK to meet OEM and end user demand.
Professor Neil Hopkinson will manage the Xaar 3D Center as director of 3D printing for the company and is also the primary inventor of High Speed Sintering (HSS).
High Speed Sintering – how does it work?
HSS uses infrared light and inkjet print heads to grow a 3D object. A roller sweeps across the print bed to add a layer of powder, and in sweeping back, jets carbon black while exposing the layer to infrared light. The carbon black material absorbs infrared radiation and sinters the surrounding powder to make a 2D layer. These layers gradually build up to make a 3D part at a speed 100 times faster than other industrial laser sintering 3D printers.
A HSS machine in action. Clip via: Sheffield Engineering on Youtube
Purpose of the center
The Xaar 3D Center will utilize HSS technology to produce high volume prints for manufacturers. They are also focusing on the development of new materials for inkjet 3D printing, and the way these can be applied in different industries. Some use cases of Xaar’s advanced manufacturing technology included a 3D printed solar conductive seed layer for solar panels, flexible PCBs, and printing onto ceramic tiles, all possible with a Xaar 1003 printhead.
The center also comes with a sister team in Denmark who will be developing ways to commercialize HSS technology. Professor Hopkinson expressed his enthusiasm for the project in the statement below:
I am delighted to confirm our investment in the Xaar 3D Centre in Nottingham and our 3D team including the new group in Copenhagen. As we build our business in 3D it is vital that we have the in-house expertise to support our partners. The addition of the team in Denmark further extends our capability.
Building the advanced manufacturing industry in the UK
The Xaar 3D Center is not the only dedicated additive manufacturing facility to be introduced to the city famous for the Robin Hood legend. The University of Nottingham is also building a dedicated Institute for Advanced Manufacturing with a $28.6M investment provided in part by the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership in the county.
Having both centers go live in the next 2 years is certain to make the city a hub of additive manufacturing in England. The South-Yorkshire city of Sheffield is also seeking a similar goal, reviving what used to be the center of the country’s steel industry. 3D modelling software developers Polygonica are already based there, and Professor Hopkinson continued developing HSS technology there before joining Xaar.
Featured image shows Xaar high speed sintered parts Photo via: Xaar.com