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MTC seals link with University of Exeter

A high-performance polymer component produced by Additive Manufacture

The National Centre for Additive Manufacturing at the Coventry-based Manufacturing Technology Centre has signed a strategic partnership with the University of Exeter to develop high performance polymer components using additive manufacturing.

The MTC has signed a memorandum of understanding with Exeter’s Centre for Additive Layer Manufacturing (CALM) to work together on the development and exploitation of additive-manufactured high performance polymeric (HPP) parts.

HPP components are used in harsh and high-stress environments. They are resistant to high temperatures, high pressures and corrosive chemicals and are used extensively in the petrochemical, oil and gas, aerospace, power generation and medical sectors.

In recent years the University of Exeter’s CALM has been driving the research agenda for producing high performance polymeric components with additive manufacture, or 3D printing, in particular for high temperature requirements. CALM has delivered multiple collaborative projects with industry to bring these materials and processes closer to full commercialisation.

The National Centre for Additive Manufacturing at the MTC brings together one of the most comprehensive combinations of additive manufacturing equipment and capability in the UK. It is also home to the European Space Agency’s Additive Manufacturing Benchmarking Centre.

Dr. Hoda Amel, who heads the polymer additive manufacturing activity within the National Centre, said additive manufacturing is a fast-growing area but the production of end-use parts for the high value manufacturing sector demands improved part performance. Improved part properties arising from this partnership will help to drive the uptake of polymer AM within the UK manufacturing sector.

“The University of Exeter’s CALM facility has been carrying out some very interesting work on the production of high performance polymeric components using additive manufacture. That, combined with the expertise and capabilities of the MTC, opens up some exciting possibilities. We will be looking to develop the technology by exploiting additive manufacturing processes, combined with the advantages of cost, speed and complexity that AM brings as we bridge the gap between market requirements and process reality,” she said.

Professor Oana Ghita, lead of CALM at the University of Exeter said, “Our research and development work on high performance polymers has now reached a high level of maturity which needs the MTC’s input and collaboration. We are very excited about the possibilities offered by the partnership formed by the two centres.”

The MTC was founded by the University of Birmingham, Loughborough University, the University of Nottingham and TWI Ltd. The MTC’s industrial members include some of the UK’s major global manufacturers.

The MTC aims to provide a competitive environment to bridge the gap between university-based research and the development of innovative manufacturing solutions, in line with the Government’s manufacturing strategy. The MTC is part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, supported by Innovate UK.