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30 Mar 2017

Game-changing 3D print innovations invented at Loughborough University feature at the heart of new manufacturing centre

Xaar CEO Doug Edwards (left) and Professor Neil Hopkinson, Director of 3D printing, (right) unveil a plaque fittingly covered with 3D printed fabric

The process known as high speed sintering (HSS) was created 14 years ago by academics at Loughborough, who perfected the process over 10 years – achieving international recognition for the project in 2009, winning a breakthrough technology award from the American SME.

The unique method is up to 100 times faster than existing techniques, and has been recognised for elevating the production capabilities of additive manufacturing (3D printing) from small-scale manufacture of single objects to being able to complete major industrial quotas of complex components.

The ground-breaking technique is at the heart of the global print technology provider Xaar’s new 3D Centre, at the Nottingham Science Park, which opened yesterday.

The centre will showcase the capabilities of HSS and highlight its potential to improve mass manufacturing of industrial parts and components in highly competitive industries such as aerospace, consumer products, automotive, medical and sports and leisure.

Yesterday’s official opening was attended by more than 30 specially invited guests, including ABB, BAE Systems, Unilever and Jaguar Land Rover.

Professor Hopkinson, who led the inception and development of HSS during his 10 years working as Loughborough’s inaugural Enterprise Fellow, is now Xaar’s director of 3D printing.

He said: “There is no doubt that high speed sintering technology can transform 3D printing from a low volume prototyping solution to a mainstream manufacturing process.

“The step change to high volume manufacturing will be most efficiently achieved through partnerships with committed stakeholders across the supply chain.

“Our new 3D Centre in Nottingham is the ideal location for such partnerships to flourish.”

Loughborough University’s Pro Vice Chancellor Enterprise, Professor Tracy Bhamra, said: “We are delighted that Xaar has invested in this major facility to advance 3D printing in volume manufacturing, underpinned by intellectual property developed at Loughborough University.”