As a manufacturing technology, 3D Printing is based on the principle of adding material, hence it is also referred to as ‘Additive Manufacturing’. A relatively recent approach to the manufacture of end-use components, it is based on the creation of parts and products directly from raw material in powder, liquid, sheet or filament form using digital 3D design data. The process operates by depositing material, usually layer-by-layer, without the need for moulds, tools or dies.
The research carried out within the EPSRC Centre has shown that the move from single to multi-material Additive Manufacturing gives the potential to move beyond structural applications and create fully functional systems rather than passive individual components. The possibilities of creating added functionality and user value – through the embedding of 3D functional materials within complex structures manufactured from engineering polymers or metals – appear immense.
Functional structures that may be built directly into products include electrical circuitry, optical tracks, sensors, conformal batteries, solar cells, LED screens, antennas and other devices.
The EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Additive Manufacturing is leading the way in the development of multifunctional systems. To find out more about the work that we do at the Centre, please see the Projects that we are involved in and the Publications that we have produced.