Facility will help businesses to harness 3D printing technique

Exeter University has taken delivery of a machine that will place its Centre for Additive Layer Manufacturing (CALM) at the forefront of 3D printing.

CALM, a £2.6m facility that will officially launch later this year, will enable businesses, entrepreneurs and researchers to harness the potential of the new 3D printing technique.

This is a new production technique that can create complex or bespoke parts and complete products by building them up one layer at a time in specialist machines.

The facility has taken delivery of a machine that allows 3D printing using a type of high-performance plastic that can be used as an alternative to metal due to its strength and heat resistance.

According to Exeter University, the EOSINT P800 is the only machine in the UK that can manufacture high-performance thermoplastics (such as PEEK and PEK) through the additive-layer process.

Dr Sara Flint, commercial manager for CALM, said: ‘Additive-layer manufacturing allows you to design and make things that were impossible to make before. You can make complex components or reduce something that used to be made from several parts to just one piece.

‘There are so many practical applications for it and yet it’s a new and developing area. There are huge opportunities to innovate and improve existing products by making them lighter, stronger or more efficient.’

Major areas of interest for the technique are said to include making medical implants, aerospace components or even high-end parts for F1 cars.

Prof Ken Evans, dean of the university’s College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, said: ‘Here at CALM we’re encouraging companies, from inventors and designers to high-tech businesses conducting large-scale research and development, to utilise our facilities and expertise to get started. We can provide technical expertise in additive-layer manufacturing to businesses across all sectors.’

Businesses wanting to find out more about the CALM centre and how they can use its facilities can find out more at this address:http://www.exeter.ac.uk/calm