EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham


Additive Manufacturing (AM) often known by the term three-dimensional printing (3DP) has been acknowledged as a potential manufacturing revolution. AM has many advantages over conventional manufacturing techniques; AM techniques manufacture through the addition of material - rather than traditional machining or moulding methods. AM negates the need for tooling, enabling cost-effective low-volume production in high-wage economies and the design & production of geometries that cannot be made by other means. In addition, the removal of tooling and the potential to grow components and products layer-by-layer means that we can produce more from less in terms of more efficient use of raw materials and energy or by making multifunctional components and products. The proposed Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing has the vision of training the next generation of leaders, scientists and engineers in this diverse and multi-disciplinary field. As AM is so new current training programmes are not aligned with the potential for manufacturing and generally concentrate on the teaching of Rapid Prototyping principles, and whilst this can be useful background knowledge, the skills and requirements of using this concept for manufacturing are very different. This CDT will be training cohorts of students in all of the basic aspects of AM, from design and materials through to processes and the implementation of these systems for manufacturing high value goods and services. The CDT will also offer specialist training on aspects at the forefront of AM research, for example metallic, medical and multi-functional AM considerations. This means that the cohorts graduating from the CDT will have the background knowledge to proliferate throughout industry and the specialist knowledge to become leaders in their fields, broadening out the reach and appeal of AM as a manufacturing technology and embedding this disruptive technology in company thinking. In order to give the cohorts the best view of AM, these students will be taken on study tours in Europe and the USA, the two main research powerhouses of AM, to learn from their international colleagues and see businesses that use AM on a daily basis.

One of the aims of the CDT in AM is to educate and attract students from complementary basic science, whether this be chemistry, physics or biology. This is because AM is a fast moving area. The benefits of having a CDT in AM and coupling with students who have a more fundamental science base are essential to ensure innovation & timeliness to maintain the UK's leading position.

AM is a disruptive technology to a number of industrial sectors, yet the CDTs industrial supporters, who represent a breadth of industrial end-users, welcome this disruption as the potential business benefits are significant. Growing on this industry foresight, the CDT will work in key markets with our supporters to ensure that AM is positioned to provide a real and lasting contribution & impact to UK manufacturing and provide economic stability and growth. This contribution will provide societal benefits to UK citizens through the generation of wealth and employment from high value manufacturing activities in the UK.

Planned Impact

Additive Manufacturing (AM) is the direct production of end-use component parts made using additive layer manufacturing technologies. AM enables the manufacture of geometrically complex, low to medium volume production components in a range of materials, with little, if any, fixed tooling or manual intervention beyond the initial product design. It enables a number of value chain configurations, such as personalised component part manufacture but also economic low volume production within high cost base economies. The concept of AM is to use the layer approach to add value to a component part during manufacture. This Centre for Doctoral Training in Additive Manufacturing has been developed to bring about a formalised and innovative training structure to make the best of the human capital being graduated from Universities and allow them to embark on a tailored programme of doctoral training specifically in AM. Current training for AM is disparate and sporadic with no formal doctoral training available in the UK. However, AM is recognised by government and industry as being a key technology for the UK, and one that will allow the UK to maintain and grow its high-value manufacturing sector. AM provides a basis for long-term innovation within UK manufacturing and in particular, the concept of 'growing' entire components offers significant benefit to the high-value manufacturing sector, based on innovative design solutions. AM is cross-sectoral in nature, and with the development of the multi-functional AM is increasing in its diversity and the requirements for multi-disciplinary research are increasing, engagement with students and academics from varying disciplines, Chemistry/Biological Sciences/Physics etc. is a key requirement to make the most of the UK's research lead. In concert, industrial contacts are broadening, previous engagement from industries such as automotive and aerospace continues. However, basic materials companies, software and specialist manufacturing companies are now seeing AM as a route to market or exploitation of their products and / or services.
The current AM market place for machine tools, materials and services (such as software) is valued at just over $1.2Billion. However, it must be acknowledged that AM is an enabling technology. But, fundamentally, AM adds the greatest value in its application and taking an AM philosophy can result, through design freedoms, production flexibility and supply chain economics changes to the traditional manufacturing model that can provide business benefits unrealisable with conventional manufacturing technology. In the medium to long term, the opportunities for AM are significant and diverse, and through this philosophy, the CDT's industrial partners want to enable the next generation of AM processes, materials, software tools and supply chains.
It can thus be seen that there will be multiple beneficiaries from the CDT's establishment. The CDT's industrial supporters represent a variety of end user industries - both multinational and SMEs - together with the equipment and systems manufacturers and suppliers representing the value chain. The benefits from trained scientists and engineers and new AM technology and processes enables new product and market opportunities in diverse sectors, and economies in production of existing components and systems, whilst supplying the ready-made human resources to augment these developments within industry and academia. The requirement for students to undertake internships at these companies during their studies means that these companies will have a pipeline of talent to work with and employ in the future. From a wider perspective, the UK will benefit through increased competitive advantage of its manufacturing industries, and the public will gain through new products at economic costs. For society the AM offers the environmental gain of lower carbon footprints and more sustainable use of precious raw materials.


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