AMBER opens ‘additive manufacturing’ lab

Mick Morris
Prof Mick Morris, AMBER

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2 March 2018 | 0

Materials science research centre AMBER has opened a new additive manufacturing (AM, commonly known as 3D printing) research laboratory.

The AR-Lab (Additive Research Laboratory) was established with a €4.3 million investment from Science Foundation Ireland and the European Research Council as well as strategic funding from Trinity and the institutional support these large initiatives require.

The AR-Lab will focus on world-leading research that will innovate new materials, printing methods and extend the capability of 2D and 3D printing to enable revolutionary, new medical, electronic, mechanical, optical, acoustic, heat transfer, and sensing devices.

AMBER has invested in a suite of 3D printing technologies which spans the full spectrum of materials from ceramics, metals to polymers and biomaterials. The ability to 3D print ceramic materials is of particular interest. These materials have application in a wide range of sectors from telecommunications to biomedical implants but, due to current constraints on manufacturing techniques, are limited in their use and performance. For example, it is envisioned that advanced free-form lightweight 3D printed ceramic objects could ultimately be used in the future as orthopedic implants designed to promote tissue and bone growth.

Other applications for AM can be found in aerospace, defence, automotive, healthcare, and other industries. This is due to its many advantages, including design flexibility, product customisation, and minimisation of material waste, compared to subtractive manufacturing.

The use of additive manufacturing also has the potential to add significant advancement to medical device development, as geometries will no longer be constrained to the limited base stock (i.e. flats sheets or circular tubes) that components are machined from.

Prof Michael Morris, AMBER Director said: “AMBER’s AR-Lab will be a pivotal component of AMBER’s research focused on the fundamental material science challenges associated with 3D printing e.g. the range and complexity of the materials that can be printed, the size of these features and how a number of material sets can be integrated into a functioning device.

”We have invested in a customised suite of 3D printing technology which spans the full spectrum of materials from ceramics and metals to polymers and biomaterials. This investment will play a leading role in the emerging 3D printing national research ecosystem. It will enable AMBER to build on our foundation of innovative excellence in materials science and become leaders in this emerging technology which is critical to the manufacturing industries that support the Irish economy.”

The size of the AM market is projected to reach €30 billion by 2023.

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