Centre for Additive Manufacturing
Pure copper jetted using CfAM’s exclusive MetalJet technology

Materials

One of the main challenges faced by additive manufacturing (AM) is the limited choice of materials as majority of the traditional materials are often not designed or optimised for AM process.

In the Centre for Additive Manufacturing, we carry out novel material development researches to produce materials for various kinds of AM methods including not only the optimization of material formulations, but also bringing new chemistries to fulfil the needs of different functional materials and expand the material database for AM.

 

Projects

Jetting of silicones and phase 2 micro-SLA cellular structures

Funder: AWE

Total value: two awards totalling £818,500

Start date: Jan 2019

End date: June 2021

Project team: 

  • Dr Aleksandra Foerster
  • Professor Derek Irvine
  • Professor Ricky Wildman
  • Professor Richard Hague
  • Professor Chris Tuck
This project developed a novel Additive Manufacturing (AM) system based on material jetting and the processing parameters for printing highly viscous polysiloxanes that could be processed by both thermal and UV curing techniques.A continuation of this project focuses firstly on developing a library of material formulations for UV curable silicone showing variation in extensibility, compressive properties for ink jet printing and potentialfor conformal printing. Secondly, it looks at printing a representative design to demonstrate the capability of photocurable formulations using Micro Stereolithography.
 
 

Engineering sustainable squalene analogues for novel vaccine adjuvant formulations

Funder: National Institutes of Health Sciences

Total value: £121,000

Start date: Jan 2018

End date: Dec 2018

Project team:

  • Dr Cordula Hege
  • James Summers (School of Chemistry)
  • Professor Derek Irvine
  • Professor Steven Howdle (School of Chemistry)
  • Dr Christopher Dodds
  • Dr Christopher Fox (Infectious Disease Research Institute, Seattle, USA) 
This multidisciplinary project will develop the additive manufacturing production of squalene analogues using synthesis chemistry / chemical engineering approaches, andprove their efficacy by emulsion formulation development and biological evaluation for adjuvant activity in in vitro human and in vivo mouse and ferret models.
 
 

3D glass laser-sintered structures (3D GLaSS)

Funder: Innovate UK

Total value: £164,000

Start date: Sept 2017

End date: Aug 2019

Project team:

  • Dr Kyriaki Corinna Datsiou
  • Fiona Spirrett
  • Professor Ian Ashcroft
  • Dr Ruth Goodridge
A laser powder bed fusion method has been successfully developed in this project for soda lime silica glass. Glass feedstock, laser powder bed fusion set-up and processing parameters have been optimised enabling the formation of glass structures with micro- / macro- scale resolution and high levels of complexity in design that cannot be achieved with conventional glass-forming methods. These findings provide the stepping stone for the formation of a new generation of glass structures for a wide range of applications from chemistry and bio-medical to decorative glass industries.
 
 

Complex materials for advanced device fabrication

Funder: Air Force Office of Scientific Research

Total value: £155,400

Start date: March 2017

End date: June 2020

Project team:

  • Dr Qin Hu
  • Professor Ricky Wildman
  • Professor Derek Irvine
  • Professor Richard Hague
  • Professor Chris Tuck  
Two photon polymerisation capability in CfAM was extended to include multibeam capability through the use of diffractive optics. This work was complemented by studies exploring how photoreduction can be used to understand how metal based nanoparticles can be used to create composites on the nanoscale.
 
 

Functional Lattices for Automotive Components (FLAC)

Funder: Innovate UK

Total value: £368,287

Start date: June 2016

End date: May 2019

Project team:

  • Prof Chris Tuck

  • Prof Ian Ashcroft

  • Prof Richard Leach

  • Dr Adam Clare

  • Prof Ricky Wildman

  • Prof Richard Hague

  • Dr Nesma Aboulkhair

  • Dr Ajit Panesar

  • Dr Ian Maskery

  • Mr Richard Sélo

FLAC is an ambitious successor to the Aluminium Lattice Structures via Additive Manufacturing (ALSAM) project which ran from 2013 to 2015.  A three year project with £1.7 million in funding from Innovate UK, FLAC builds on the outcomes of ALSAM to develop advanced componentry for the automotive sector. 

In addition to structural lightweighting, which has the potential to significantly improve the efficiency of road vehicles and reduce CO2 emissions, FLAC’s emphasis lies in thermo-mechanically optimised components.  This new class of components draws on the design freedoms of AM, in particular the ability to construct cellular structures such as periodic lattices, as well as the unique, and often superior, mechanical properties of selectively laser melted metal alloys.  Cellular structures based on minimal surfaces, with their high surface areas and torturous flow paths, are of prime interest in FLAC; one of its objectives is to produce a software tool to incorporate these structures in component designs.

FLAC partners include academic institutions, vehicle and component manufacturers, AM design specialists and AM machine manufacturers.  The consortium will use a combined experimental and theoretical approach to advance metal lattice technology beyond its current scope, whilst monitoring the project’s progress for IP and commercial potential.

Project partners
Hieta Technologies Ltd. (Lead) Renishaw PLC Moog Controls Ltd.  Bentley Motors  Ltd. 
Alcon Components Ltd. Added Scientific Ltd.

University of Liverpool

University of Nottingham 
 
 

Metal jetting of functionally graded materials

Funder: AWE

Total value: £618,800

Start date: July 2015

End date: Sept 2022

Project team:

  • Dr Marco Simonelli
  • Dr Nesma Aboulkhair
  • Mark East
  • Professor Ricky Wildman
  • Professor Chris Tuck
  • Professor Richard Hague
A unique droplet-on-demand(DOD) technology ‘MetalJet’,which is equipped with four print- heads capable of ejecting and depositing tens-of-microns-sized droplets of high temperature (upto 2,000°C) conductive metals,is used to fabricate multimaterial three-dimensional structures with unprecedented precision. State-of- the-art characterisation techniques are used to investigate the interfaces of dissimilar materials printed using this bespoke technology.
 
 

Wearable Soft Robotics for Independent Living

Funder: EPSRC (EP/M026388/1)

Total value: £318,894 (at UoN)

Start date: July 2015

End date: June 2018

Project team:

  • Dr Asish Malas,
  • Dr Ruth Goodridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The overall aim of this project is to develop wearable soft robotic technologies with sophisticated sensing, actuation and control for enabling effective and comfortable rehabilitation, functional restoration and long-term assisted living. The EPSRC funded project is a collaboration between the Universities of Bristol, Nottingham, Strathclyde, UWE, Leeds and Southampton.

At the University of Nottingham, we are undertaking targeted materials development for aerosol and material jetting in order to develop new compliant smart materials and structures for fabrication into soft robotic components. Our current focus is on dielectric electroactive polymers, where we are working to improve the dielectric constant of base elastomers through the incorporation of nano-fillers while maintaining high elasticity, two properties needed for increased actuation. These materials are then combined through jetting with layers of conducting electrode materials to produce stacked soft actuators.

Academic collaborators:
Prof Jonathan Rossiter (University of Bristol) Prof Russ Harris (University of Leeds) 
Prof Abbas Dehghani (University of Leeds) Prof Rory O’Connor (University of Leeds)
Dr Ailie Turton (UWE) Dr Christopher Freeman (University of Southampton)
Dr Arjan Buis (University of Strathclyde)  

 

 
 

Next Generation Biomaterials Discovery

Funder: EPSRC (EP/N006615/1

Total value: £320,364 (only at CfAM)

Start date: Nov 2015

End date: Oct 2020

Project team:

  • Dr Simon Haas
  • Dr Noah Russell
  • Dr Derek Irvine
  • Prof Morgan Alexander
  • Prof Ricky Wildman

As part of the EPSRC-funded £5.4M “Next Generation Biomaterials Discovery” programme grant (EP/N006615/1) led by Prof Morgan Alexander, will see the investigation of three-dimensional polymeric materials for biomedical applications in drug delivery, regenerative medicine and medical devices. Hereby, the difference in material performance during the transition from well-investigated 2D surfaces to 3D is of major interest. This programme includes collaborations from the School of Pharmacy, Engineering, Life Science and Medicine at the University of Nottingham.

Our efforts will focus upon the preparation of novel particle libraries using a microfluidic approach. This methodology gives access to a broad range of particulates with ranging variations in chemistry, size and morphology.

In the past year, our research has focused on the establishment of microfluidic particle production to achieve a first generation microparticle library based on acrylates, methacrylates and methacryl amides, which had been previously investigated in 2D by Prof Alexander's group.             

In the course of the project, approx. 120 particle samples have been prepared, using two channel geometries and more than 20 different materials. The particle diameters achieved range from 60 – 150 m.

To achieve the formation of particulates in the microfluidic chip it was necessary to add a surfactant (PVA) to the system. However, subsequent work demonstrated incorporation of PVA into the particles’ surface during the photo-polymerisation process. To avoid this contamination future work will focus on the substitution of the PVA for polymeric surfactants containing the bulk polymer, yielding particles only containing the desired chemistries.

To increase the diversity of our libraries, additional chip designs will be introduced, giving access to particulates from pre-polymerised materials.

 
 

Aluminium Lattice Structures via Additive Manufacturing (ALSAM)

Funder: TSB/Innovate UK

Total value: £229,586

Start date: Feb 2013

End date: April 2015

Project team:

  • Prof Chris Tuck
  • Prof Richard Hague
  • Prof Ian Ashcroft
  • Prof Ricky Wildman
  • Dr Ian Maskery
  • Dr Adedeji Aremu

The ALSAM project’s main purpose was to realise lightweight components made from aluminium alloys suitable for the automotive, motorsport and aerospace sectors. This was achieved by embedding lattice structures in components selected by our industrial partners. This significantly reduced their weight and provided the advantage of multifunctional capabilities, such as heat dissipation and enhanced metal-composite bonding.

During the ALSAM project, software tools were developed to make use a broad range of lattices in Selectively Laser Melting (SLM) components. This was incorporated into a software package, which will be released commercially by one of the project partners. Other partners were motivated by component performance improvement, which was generally achieved by reducing unnecessary weight, but also by adding new functionality only possible through the adoption of lattice structures.

Within this project, some of the most pertinent results originated from investigations into self-supporting lattice structures. The lattices were examined theoretically by computational methods and experimentally. The findings were presented at several international conferences and led to a number of journals publications. In addition, the results of the lattice characterisation work fed directly into the design of lightweight components for the project partners.

 
 

Reactive Jetting of Engineering Materials

Main project: EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Additive Manufacturing

Funder: EPSRC (EP/I033335/2)

Total value: £5,576,219 (main project)

Start date: Oct 2012

 End date: March 2017

Project team:

  • Dr Belen Begines
  • Dr Yinfeng He
  • Prof Ricky Wildman
  • Prof Phill Dickens
  • Prof Ian Ashcroft
  • Prof Chris Tuck
  • Dr Ruth Goodridge

Widening the applicability of Additive Manufacturing (AM) for end-use product instead of prototypes manufacturing is vital for commercializing this revolutionary manufacturing technique. Expanding the material database for AM allows more advanced materials to be processed with this technology and enable it to be used in manufacturing high-performance end-use products. The aim of the reactive jetting project was to develop new ink formulations which are suitable for inkjet-based AM technique, to produce a product made of high-performance functional polymers. The main work involved developing new monomers, pre-polymers, chemistry reactions and printing strategies, which enable the creation of inkjet printable ink formulations that can be triggered after deposition to polymerize and form functional polymeric parts with desired properties.

Since the start of this project, we have achieved a breakthrough in producing parts from several popular polymers through reactive jetting technique. These include: Polyimide (PI), Polycarbonate, Polyvinylpyrrolidone, Polyurethane, Polyurea and Polysiloxanes most of which had never been processed before using inkjet-based AM techniques. These advances enable the manufacturing of parts with specific functions such as high-temperature resistance, water solubility, high optical clarity, flexibility, biocompatibility and drug delivery. The project has already attracted and established collaborations with companies in the field of pharmaceuticals, agro-chemicals, engineering polymers and healthcare industry.

 
 

 

Centre for Additive Manufacturing

Faculty of Engineering
The University of Nottingham
Nottingham, NG7 2RD


telephone: +44(0)115 84 66374
email: CfAM@nottingham.ac.uk