Discovery, understanding and innovation in AM is a key element of the research strategy of both this CDT and the EPSRC Centre in AM.The overriding concerns of AM research and the broader community prioritise process control (repeatability) and the effects of (multi) material deposition – be this from a design, manufacturing or material standpoint. This broader research challenge not only exists to counter the lack of innovation currently afforded by current AM processes and systems but also the requirements of new multi-material AM that aims to produce graded and multi-functional components in single builds.
The CDT has identified a number of cross-cutting themes to tackle the research challenges and move towards the successful deployment and increased efficacy of AM and 3DP.
- Deposition, is an overarching challenge both in term of design, material and process capability and is core to the CDT in AM research vision.
- Graded is, in effect, the next stage on from deposition, whereby materials are mixed and deposited on an ever-increasing resolution in order to effect greater and more complex functionality from graded material placement. The development of graduated structures that are fully designed and understood in terms of their final properties and capabilities is a significant multidisciplinary activity.
- Control, will enable existing and future AM processes and systems to actively monitor and adapt the AM processes in order for them to produce the functionalised component with the correct resolution, accuracy and importantly repeatability, not seen in todays single material systems.
- Function, will enable components that have greater functionality through optimal design and material deposition methods. This challenge will be to ascertain the benchmarks for a given function (i.e. thermal conductivity or electrical resistivity) and seek out new ways to enhance this functionality; for example, through greater design freedom and capability or through the development of new materials and process enhancement.
These challenges form the basis of individual research projects in the centre and ensure that it plays a key role in contributing to the success of the major developments in Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing, through innovation and understanding.