Simulation and microscale control of additive manufacturing

This research will explore extrusion additive manufacturing technology to allow it to be used to its full potential for applications such as tissue engineering.

Our aim

Our research will push the extrusion additive manufacturing technology beyond the current limits to achieve new structures or new levels of control/repeatability that will enable the advancement of the technology in several ways. In some cases, the effective characterisation of the process will allow the hardware to be improved or controlled more accurately. In other cases, a new understanding of the mechanical properties of parts produced by extrusion additive manufacturing will allow the optimisation of the design or manufacturing setup.

There are many other ways we will have an impact, including enabling completely new types of parts to be manufactured with size scales up to an order of magnitude smaller than previously possible. In many cases, the biomedical field is targeted because of the need for high precision and repeatability.

Our research

We have developed in-house software for simulation (VOLCO) and microscale control (FullControl GCODE Designer) of extrusion additive manufacturing. They are being used to predict the properties of and manufacture high-precision specimens/parts beyond what is possible with off-the-shelf software. The methods are being used for tissue engineering research and to understand the properties of biomedical materials. 

Our outcomes

We have established a new understanding of the mechanical properties of bioresorbable polymers both immediately after manufacture and during hydrolytic degradation. Furthermore, we have demonstrated the ability to predict the microscale geometry and mechanical properties of tissue engineering scaffolds beyond what is possible with any other modelling software. VOLCO and FullControl GCODE Designer software are being used by several national and international research groups for a range of applications. 

Project lead: Dr Andy Gleadall

Transforming extrusion manufacturing from a prototyping tool to a cutting-edge manufacturing process that can do things beyond any other manufacturing process.

Dr Andy Gleadall