Formulation for 3D printing: Creating a plug and play platform for a disruptive UK industry

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Div of Process and Environmental Eng


3D printing lacks the materials required to fully become an established mass manufacturing process. Progress in materials development continues but a step change is required, and this will be realised through high throughput methods. High throughput discovery is an established methodology for automated identification of promising materials. At Nottingham it has been developed as tool for understanding biomaterials, and recently was instrumental in finding materials whose surface would resist bacterial attachment, potentially avoiding unnecessary use of antibiotics. Here, drawing together a multi-disciplinary, cross-community team, we will adapt this philosophy to rapidly identify formulations that can be used for 3D printing in a range of sectors represented by our industry partners. This will enable the creation of a library of materials, material combinations and formulations that are proven for 3D printing (particularly ink jet, extrusion, hot melt extrusion). Whilst the formation of this methodology is an initially challenging and time consuming step, the establishment of this set of libraries will enable rapid adoption downstream whilst the methodology itself can be utilised by other sectors seeking materials. Our libraries will be readily extended to create a tool for UK industry for selection of 3D printing formulations.

Planned Impact

The main beneficiaries of this research will be the users and manufacturers of 3D printing equipment. To date, there has been limited choice of material for 3D printing, so whilst the future for 3DP is exciting, many of the desired objects are unable to be realised owing to an incomplete set of materials. Our aim is to rapidly identify promising materials for 3DP, determining the key sector specific properties and tabulating this in a readily available library.
The immediate beneficiaries of the work will be users of 3D printed products (represented across sectors by our industry partners), who will be able to use the sector specific library, and in future the validated high throughput methodology to produce 3D printable formulations without requiring significant resources - the company will be able to 'plug and play' when selecting materials for formulations.
This impact will be translated from the laboratory and through higher TRL levels through, for example, CPI, The National Formulation Centre and the proposed Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre.
Academic Beneficiaries will include research groups using 3D printing having a platform system for investigating highly sector specific research interests.
The ultimate beneficiaries will be consumers and users. The uptake of 3D printing offered by the widening of materials through design of formulations, will mean better and more efficacious products will be able to be produced. In the sectors with which we have chosen to engage, this will mean drug delivery systems tailored to patient, more environmentally friendly agrochemical application, engineering focused products that meet stringent materials properties requirements, home care products that are effective cleaning systems and more nutritious food.
Description We have developed a methodology to identify ink jet printable formulations.
Exploitation Route Our methodology can be employed by others to find 3D printable formulations.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Agriculture, Food and Drink,Chemicals,Electronics,Energy,Environment,Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

Title High throughput ink jet printability test 
Description We have developed a high throughput ink jet printability test that identifies materials with viscosity and surface tension within range of printability. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact None as of yet.