Imperial College London and manufacturing software company AMFG have received funding from Innovate UK to advance autonomous 3D printing.
The funding, delivered through a management Knowledge Transfer Partnership (mKTP), will go towards developing software that allows machines such as those used for 3D printing to function entirely independently.
Our mKTP will create exciting opportunities to build research activities across the digital manufacturing spectrum. Dr Connor Myant Dyson School of Design Engineering
3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is a growing industry that allows users to create 3D objects from digital designs. Currently used in aerospace, medical devices, dentistry, and mechanical engineering, 3D printing has the potential to produce materials in large quantities, with digital technologies like AMFG’s MES critically confronting the roadblocks towards this achievement.
Imperial researchers will work with AMFG, which produces workflow automation software for manufacturing processes, to develop autonomous manufacturing - where machines produce objects without human input. The researchers say such software could mean improving productivity by 92 per cent and reducing production times from five days to one, driving technologies like 3D printing towards their full industrial potential.
Academic lead Dr Connor Myant, from Imperial’s Dyson School of Design Engineering, said: “Establishing strong collaborations with industry is central to modern academia, and together we can solve real-world problems. Teaming up with AMFG, we aim to do exactly that. Our mKTP will create exciting opportunities to build research activities across the digital manufacturing spectrum.”
Central to the mKTP is the transfer of innovation, ideation and collaborative creativity skills required to transition to a culture that favours disruptive innovation. To that end, academic co-lead Dr Céline Mougenot, from Imperial’s Dyson School of Design Engineering, will support AMFG with implementing collaborative ideation workshops with cross-functional teams.
We are excited to be forging a relationship with an institution renowned for world-changing innovation. Keyvan Karimi AMFG
The Partnership will produce software that includes automated order management, integration with all major 3D printers, post-production management, and shipping and labelling. To do this, they will run a series of research and development initiatives that develop new solutions for each part of the workflow.
Keyvan Karimi, founder and CEO of AMFG, said: “This R&D partnership marks a monumental step towards bringing the vision of autonomous manufacturing into reality. We are excited to be forging a relationship with an institution renowned for world-changing innovation.”
Under the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) programme, UKRI covers half to two-thirds of the cost of hiring a talented graduate to divide their time between a university and a company, using academic insights to help the company innovate. Applications for KTP funding are facilitated at Imperial by Imperial Enterprise.
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