It is always a pleasure to go to Nottingham for a conference on additive manufacturing and 3D printing – knowing what to expect to a certain degree, for a few years, always attended with a sense of anticipation, as I found it Also know that there will be something to surprise me.
And so it happened
This convention is one that always mixes the usual suspects with positive inflows with the influx of well-educated newcomers. It was great to connect with Nottingham University’s 3D Printing Research Group 12 months ago after transitioning from Loughborough University.
What the team has achieved in that time is unprecedented – led by Professor Richard Hague – and the new laboratory, which officially opened on March 12 this year, was open for tours during the 2-day conference. I went and was delighted to be shown around the facility by Professor Phil Dickens, who went there last month to join his peers.
The lab is a new and dedicated AM / 3DP facility that has taken several man-hours to set up with all equipment central to the major research being done by the group. The equipment in the laboratory is a combination of “traditional” and completely new, experimental kits.
This is indeed a topic that emerged during the event, as a focus on the lab and some R&D presentations led to the mention of “traditional” and / or “traditional” additive manufacturing techniques as a benchmark for interesting new technology. gave. Processes under development that challenge the current AM paradigm.
There were a few other things of note in terms of language – additive manufacturing and 3D printing monikers were used interchangeably and, more importantly, comfortably. After all. The other thing that surprised me a little bit was the change in language around the material, which is now old hat, obviously, it is now about “ink”.
This is a result of the heavy emphasis on ink-jetting processes – many in the conference believe that this is the future-proof 3D printing technology base. I personally have been convinced about it for some time – ever since I interviewed David Rees, which preceded the merger last year.
R&D in inkjet processes is much broader than I thought – beyond Objet (Stratasys) and Projet (3D Systems) processes. The Nottingham Research Group has been building systems from the ground up, some of which were on show during the lab tour, as well as mandatory clearance for a secret area that we were not allowed to see.
Chris Tuck gave an overview presentation of this work before the tour, and highlighted two main research areas with jetting processes, namely multi-functional properties and minimizing process with nano “inks”.
Another research project in inkjet came from Czar in Germany – Werner Zapka pointed to the ability to customize inkjet printing in 3D beyond multi-material and multi-color parts to functional, embedded products produced in a single process.
The presentations over the two days of the conference were pleasantly diverse, or as Professor Hague put it, “an interesting eclectic mix.” I agree. It made for an interesting program, which has some notable features:
Chris Thorpe opened up on day one, and while I couldn’t see him from his seat (recently due to something or other he had to be present while sitting) his presentation was a fascinating overview of a year-long project (to date) Was) that has used 3D scanning and 3D printing as a short run manufacturing method for the production of train models and kits for railway modelers.
Chris’ passion for his subject and the history of railways was evident, but what I liked more than that was this: “We have learned a lot of things about the first industrial revolution [with this project], which in shaping Another one can help. ” His approach, based on his own project of 3D printing, is that the 20th century was the one that “made people want things”, while the 21st century “has the ability to make things that people want.”
It was also a pleasure to see Michela Janse van Vuuren present. Michela is a very talented designer based in South Africa who is passionate and passionate about 3D printing and applies it to her art. He is also one of the people behind the agents of the 3D Revolution exhibition in Johannesburg.
Paul Brody of IBM gave a fascinating presentation highlighting how IBM is seriously “preparing for the disruptive change of electronics design and manufacturing” that is on the horizon, courtesy of Additive Manufacturing.
He presented some joint research that IBM has done with the Economist that maps current data in a way that points to the future in terms of economics and scale. He was also positively vocal about the open approach, and in this vein, the entire report, due to this month, is being made freely available to whoever wants it.