Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering

Research

Additive Manufacturing Research Group

Loughborough Universities Additive Manufacturing Research Group (AMRG) has an established global profile in the field of Additive Manufacturing research and its related topics.

We have a broad scope of research activities ranging from fundamental investigations to translational activities.

The majority of our research activities are conducted in collaboration with industrial partners and encompass a broad range of sectors including: aerospace, defence, design, health, medicine, and electronics. Much of our work is cross-disciplinary and as such is conducted across multiple academic schools of the University and externally, both in the UK and internationally. The AMRG is working with many leading international companies. We have comprehensive additive manufacturing laboratories, supported by state-of-the-art testing and analysis facilities.

Furthermore, a strategic theme of our current and future research activities focuses on exploring the combination and integration of Additive Manufacturing with other emerging fields of science and technology to realise radically new products, capability, and applications. We are terming this as Hybrid and Multi-systems Additive Manufacturing. This new strategy is reflected in: the acquisition of staff and facilities, our new cross-disciplinary partnerships - both internally and externally, and multiple successful research awards based in this thematic area.

The quality and impact of contribution by the AMRG, and other manufacturing research groups at Loughborough University, was further highlighted in the recent Award of the Queens Anniversary Prize (2013) for contribution to UK High Value Manufacturing.

Visit the Additive Manufacturing Research Group website for more information. 

ArtiVasc 3D

ArtiVasc 3D is a European multi-partner project concerned with the design and manufacture of bioartificial soft tissue to be used for either skin replacement or as a test system for pharmaceutical, cosmetics or chemical products. The generation of such tissue substitutes requires functional vascular networks in order to supply nutrients and dispose of metabolites. A key challenge to this is providing a highly complex vascular network structure that fully resembles mature blood vessels. This requires a multidisciplinary approach uniting biology, engineering and clinical practice. It is an excellent example of our focus on exploring the combination and integration of Additive Manufacturing with other emerging fields of science and technology to realise radically new products and applications, a field we term ‘Hybrid and Multi-systems Additive Manufacturing’.

The entire project programme will entail biological analysis, bio-mimetic design, materials development, high-resolution small-scale manufacturing, and testing. A particular focus of Loughborough’s role concerns investigating new routines for scaffold design for these biomedical applications to enable the efficient production of complex 3D vascular networks (such as blood vessels and arteries) and the translation of this data into appropriate machine coding for use in new additive manufacturing processes researched and developed in the project.

Find out more about this project 

AMRG Contact: R.A.Harris@lboro.ac.uk

Bespoke flow reactors

We are exploring, over the next 5-10 years, alternative and step-change means for drug discovery and screening through the exploitation of novel and disruptive technologies. We are investigating the design and production of self-optimizing chemical flow reactors which have built-in analytics and optimisation protocols which can perform catalytic reactions and screen for biological activity at enzyme and cell level. Within this multi-disciplinary project we are investigating novel, bespoke flow reactors using Hybrid and Multi-systems Additive Manufacturing. We are the first group in the UK to have combined flow technology with these truly novel and advanced manufacturing techniques.

AMRG Contact: R.A.Harris@lboro.ac.uk

SASM

SASAM is a multi-partner EU framework CSA project, involving several partners located throughout Europe in both academia and industry. The project concerns industrial standards for Additive Manufacturing (AM) processes and systems. SASAM's mission is to drive the growth of AM for efficient and sustainable industrial processes by integrating and coordinating Standardisation activities for Europe by creating and supporting a Standard organization in the field of AM.

Find out more about this project

AMRG Contact: R.A.Harris@lboro.ac.uk

Medical modeling for training and simulation

Over the last five years, in collaboration with clinical colleagues, we have been researching and developing various medical training and planning phantoms. Included in this are phantoms for surgery simulation (endoscopic in the sinus) and for diagnosis (neonatal transcranial ultrasound). We’ve developed materials and methodologies that provide the relevant characteristics of both soft and hard tissue that can be processed by Additive Manufacturing technologies to produce simulation phantoms. 

Find out more about this project

AMRG Contact: R.A.Harris@lboro.ac.uk

Intelligent sensor systems for condition monitoring through additive manufacture of ceramic packages

This multidisciplinary project is between Loughborough and Heriot-Watt University and includes seven Industrial partners covering the full manufacturing supply chain and end users in oil and gas, industrial pump systems and MOD. The primary objective is to generate intelligent sensors systems for condition monitoring through the Additive Manufacture (AM) of bespoke ceramic packages. This will be achieved by using the latest developments in the field of manufacturing to generate an additive based electronic substrate fabrication process using Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) coupled with direct write deposition methods for laying the conductive tracks and vias. The resultant bottom-up packaging process will be environmentally friendly, flexible, high value-add and allow rapid turnaround time of parts while also enabling the integration of commercially available electronics and MEMS devices. The subsequent devices will enable access to new intelligent asset monitoring markets through the design and development of innovative manufacturing methods using 3D forming of ceramic packages and through the incorporation of bare microelectronics and harsh environmental sensors.

This project is an example of our focus on exploring the combination and integration of Additive Manufacturing with other emerging fields of science and technology to realise radically new products and applications, a field we term ‘Hybrid and Multi-systems Additive Manufacturing’.

Find out more about this project

AMRG Contact: R.W.Kay@lboro.ac.uk

Photosynthesis-inspired manufacturing of metal patterns (Photobioform)

Photobioform is researching a new patterning process, which will allow the selective metallization on both planar and 3D substrates using a bio-inspired photo-induced patterning process that utilises Chlorophyll as the reducing agent for metal ions embedded into the substrate. This novel approach has wide potential impact for manufacturing due its extraordinary versatility properties in terms (1) the range of metals (with metal ions monovalent but also divalent) that can be used, (2) the range of substrate materials that can be accommodated, (3) the form and shape of the material being processed (liquid coatings, film, powder, 3D block, flat or countered surfaces) and (4) the resulting range of applications enabled by the combination of the metal, substrate material, form and shape of the material chosen.

This project is multidisciplinary and is an example of our focus on exploring the combination and integration of Additive Manufacturing with other emerging fields of science and technology to realise radically new products and applications, a field we term ‘Hybrid and Multi-systems Additive Manufacturing’.

Find out more about this project

AMRG Contact: R.W.Kay@lboro.ac.uk

Direct Digital Fabrication: Integration of Advanced Manufacturing Processes – IAMP

Digital Fabrication enables agile, on-demand and fully automated production in a wide range of manufacturing contexts and is seen as a key enabling technology for future high-value manufacturing applications. This project seeks to explore and explain the underpinning phenomena associated with manufacturing complex, multi-material three-dimensional (3D) structures to enable multisystem integration of advanced digital fabrication processes. This will be achieved by a hybrid approach to manufacturing where different manufacturing techniques are interleaved in order to achieve fine-grained control over the spatial distribution, microstructure and interface properties of the different materials to be laid down in each layer. This highly multidisciplinary project brings expertise from Additive Manufacturing (Loughborough University), Laser Based Processing (Heriot-Watt University), Ink Jet Printing (University of Sheffield) and Mathematical modelling (University of Warwick). This project is an strong example of our focus on exploring the combination and integration of Additive Manufacturing with other emerging fields of science and technology to realise radically new products and applications, a field we term ‘Hybrid and Multi-systems Additive Manufacturing’.

AMRG Contact: R.W.Kay@lboro.ac.uk

Richard III

Following the remarkable discovery of the remains of Richard III, and in reflection of our renowned expertise in medical modelling, our group were invited to work alongside the archaeological and medical imaging teams to generate an electronic reconstruction of the former King’s skeleton and then produce a physical replica using selective laser sintering. 
The use of Additive Manufacturing (AM) technology has allowed the impact of this historical find to last long after the former Kings reinterment and provides future generation’s access to the unique visual story that the skeletal remains tell.
We continue to collaborate on research studies and outreach activities in conjunction with the project.

Find out more about this project

AMRG Contact: R.A.Harris@lboro.ac.uk

CassaMobile

CassaMobile is a European multi-partner project concerned with the creation of a flexible mini-factory for local and customized production in a container. To achieve this the project will combine Additive Manufacturing (AM) with other advanced production equipment and innovative systems to enable fast and cost-effective manufacturing of customized products at the location of need, at the required time.

CassaMobile will develop a fully capable (raw data input to final product output) manufacturing system within a 20’ ISO shipping container; thus providing a transportable, flexible, modularised small-footprint manufacturing solution that can be adapted for a variety of bespoke products.

The concept will be demonstrated by three use cases provided by three of the industrial partners of the project: bone drill guides for orthopaedic surgery, medical orthotics and individual industrial gripping products.

The CassaMobile project is an excellent example of our focus on exploring the combination and integration of AM with other emerging fields of science and technology to realise radically new products and applications, a field we term ‘Hybrid and Multi-systems Additive Manufacturing’.

Find out more about this project

AMRG Contact: R.J.Friel@lboro.ac.uk

Additive Manufacture of Novel Multi-functional Metal Matrix Composites

This project is being performed as part of the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Additive Manufacturing in collaboration with Nottingham University.

The challenge of this project is to realise an entirely new realm of multifunctional engineered components via the freeform integration of electrical circuitry within dense metal components, processed in the solid-state. This integration of Additive Manufacturing with other emerging manufacturing technologies to create a hybrid Additive Manufacturing system will allow the fabrication of novel high value components that have been previously unobtainable.

The solid-state metal manufacturing process known as Ultrasonic Additive Manufacturing (UAM) allows the integration of a wide variety of components in solid metal due to the absence of elevated bulk temperatures and when this process is combined with electrical circuitry printing processes the integration of freeform electrical circuitry into solid metal matrices can be achieved.

The project is an excellent example of our focus on exploring the combination and integration of AM with other emerging fields of science and technology to realise radically new products and applications, a field we term ‘Hybrid and Multi-systems Additive Manufacturing’.

AMRG Contact: R.A.Harris@lboro.ac.uk