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29 June 2009 | PR 09/79

Breakthrough technology invented at Loughborough wins prestigious US award

Gwenne Henricks, Caterpillar Vice President, Industrial Power Systems Division and Professor Shirley Pearce, Vice Chancellor

Neil Hopkinson

An innovative manufacturing process - High Speed Sintering - invented in Loughborough University's Wolfson School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering has been named as one of six overall winners in a new competition to recognise technologies that present a breakthrough in manufacturing.

The American Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) launched the international competition in 2008 and such was the strength and breadth of the technologies submitted they decided to award six equal winners in its inaugural year 2009. High Speed Sintering has the distinction of being the only winner from outside of the United States.

High Speed Sintering is a pioneering Rapid Manufacturing (RM) process invented at and patented by Loughborough University.  It uses printing and infra-red heating technology to manufacture products using powder materials such as nylon.  Economic analyses indicate that High Speed Sintering could reduce the time and costs of making parts by a factor of 10 when compared with current RM processes.  Its potential to significantly decrease production times, together with its proximity to mass-production viability, made the Loughborough invention a stand-out winner for the inaugural SME awards.  The process has been used to make hundreds of different parts for industries such as automotive, aerospace, industrial equipment and footwear.

Inventor Neil Hopkinson, of Loughborough’s Rapid Manufacturing Research Group, was presented with the award at the SME Annual Conference in Philadelphia.  The event brought together leading innovators from the USA and beyond to discuss the state of the industry, emerging trends, and the technologies and processes that will be in used in the near future in medical, aerospace, defence, automotive, consumer products, and other vital industries.

Commenting on the award, Neil said:  “This is testament not only to the potential that this technology holds but also to the dedication of the research team at Loughborough who have worked creatively and tirelessly to take the technology from a good idea to fantastic process".

The invention is a key output from Loughborough University's EPSRC funded Innovative Manufacturing and Construction Research Centre (IMCRC). 

−ENDS−

For all media enquiries contact:

Anna Seddon
Marketing Manager, Enterprise Office
Loughborough University
T: 01509 223445
E: A.J.Seddon@lboro.ac.uk

Neil Hopkinson
Rapid Manufacturing Research Group
Loughborough University
T: 01509 227529
E: n.hopkinson@lboro.ac.uk

Notes for editors:

1. Further information is available at: http://www.lboro.ac.uk/business/e2hs

2. Print quality images are available from: Maria Lahetko-Davies, Public Relations Office, Loughborough University, M.Lahetko-davies@lboro.ac.uk, 01509 222238

3. Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry and unrivalled sporting achievement.

It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2008 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top five universities in the UK, with 22 out of 30 of its subject areas being ranked in the top ten for overall satisfaction. It was named winner of the 2006, 2007 and 2008 Times Higher award for the UK’s Best Student Experience and winner of the 2007 award for Outstanding Support for Overseas Students. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes – an achievement bettered by no other institution.

It is a member of the esteemed 1994 Group – a set of internationally recognised, research-intensive universities – and has a reputation for the relevance of its work. Its degree programmes are highly regarded by professional institutions and businesses, and its graduates are consistently targeted by the UK’s top recruiters.

Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

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