Innovate UK grants $782,000 for 3D printing post-processing technology

Post-production finishing (PPF) is a necessary reality for most end-product manufacturing used today.  However, there is increased focus on improving the quality and time of both PPF and the actual 3D printed parts from printers.  Encouraging to see UK Government getting behind the 3D printing push.

Additive Manufacturing Technologies Ltd. (AMT) will receive a £624,000 ($782,000) grant from Innovate UK to refine a new automated post-processing method for 3D printed parts. The Sheffield company will work within a consortium along with fellow British company Xaar (LON:XAR) who produced inkjet printheads.

The government-run Innovate UK is an driver of change in the UK’s manufacturing industry. It operates in a similar to the way the America Makes program that funds additive manufacturing developments in the US.

So far in 2017, Innovate UK has also launched a project encouraging the use of 3D design in British industry. In the past they also backed the Bloodhound Supersonic Car, which hopes to break the land speed record through use of 3D printed components.

Can 3D printing alone deliver finished parts?

It’s not unreasonable to expect that 3D printers will become a staple on factory and job shop floors in the near future. But will they ever replace factories and job shops entirely?

One of the most well-known 3D-printed parts: a fuel nozzle for the CFM LEAP engine. (Image courtesy of General Electric.)Ten or twenty years ago, many engineers would have answered enthusiastically in the affirmative. Nowadays, this possibility seems much less likely.

To be sure, additive manufacturing is still an exciting prospect for many engineers—especially the latest generation. However, several factors have conspired to restrain the once unbridled enthusiasm surrounding this technology, including cost, speed and quality of 3D-printed parts.

These barriers could be overcome as additive manufacturing technology improves. However, even if this becomes the case, efficiency might still dictate that the best way to use 3D printing is as a starting point.

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