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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/R02460X/1
Title: NSF-EPSRC A Transatlantic Institute for Volumetric Powder Bed Fusion
Principal Investigator: Tuck, Professor CJ
Other Investigators:
Wildman, Professor R Hague, Professor RJ Ashcroft, Professor IA
Dickens, Professor P
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
University of Texas at Austin
Department: Faculty of Engineering
Organisation: University of Nottingham
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 December 2017 Ends: 31 October 2021 Value (£): 254,070
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Manufacturing Machine & Plant
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
Additive manufacturing (AM) is revolutionizing not only modern manufacturing but also the entire product development cycle, including the types of products that are designed and the supply chains through which they are delivered. By placing material only where it is needed, in an additive, layer-wise fashion, it is possible to create very complex architectures and functionally graded features that enhance the functionality of a product. By fabricating a part directly from a digital file, with no required tooling or fixtures, it is economical to fabricate parts locally in small quantities, opening the door to personal customization and one-of-a-kind fabrication and repair. Although AM enables production of complex parts in small volumes, the slow speed and high cost of additively manufacturing a part-relative to high-throughput conventional manufacturing methods-are significant barriers to the growth of AM. The barriers are particularly acute for powder bed fusion processes. For example, laser sintering (LS), one of the most broadly utilized AM technologies for end-use parts, can require more than 24 hours to fabricate a full batch of polymer parts. Parts are built in layers-typically on the order of 100 microns thick-by sintering powders with a laser that traces successive cross-sections of the part in a raster-like pattern. Depending on the complexity of the cross-section, each layer can require 60 seconds or more to prepare and fabricate, resulting in excessive build times. Combined with post-build cooling operations, the cycle time for a full build can approach 36 hours. Although recent technological advances have improved processing speeds these improvements are still essentially fabricating objects in a layer-by-layer manner and are therefore inherently limited in terms of the speed with which they consolidate material. We propose to consolidate sintered parts volumetrically, resulting in at least a 25 time reduction in cycle time relative to commercial LS, along with the ability to sinter a wider variety of polymer materials.
Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk