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Invention hailed a manufacturing breakthrough

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Innovative manufacturing process - High Speed Sintering - 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 Additive Manufacturing (AM) 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 Loughboroughs Additive 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).

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