AMRC develops hybrid 3D printing process
THREAD enables the integration of electrical, optical and structural component during the AM build process.
The Design and Prototyping Group of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) in conjunction with Boeing has invented a unique hybrid 3D printing process, called THREAD. This new method enables the integration of electrical, optical and structural component during the build process.
Based out of the University of Sheffield and working with aircraft manufacturing company Boeing, AMRC says this new patent-pending process will allow for parts to be additively manufactured with built-in, continuous connectivity and functionalities.
Currently, the fully automated THREAD processes has been successfully demonstrated on polymer 3D printing machines. However, AMRC believes THREAD can be applied to a wide range of AM platforms.
“THREAD has scope to simultaneously add multiple industry-recognised threads of differing materials into one component, giving the component additional functions,” explains AMRC Development Engineer and AM specialist Mark Cocking. “This will open AM up to a greater variety of uses.”
Cocking adds that this development is significant in the fact that is crosses into so many different industries and has the ability to revolutionize the medical, aerospace and automotive sectors. THREAD will be an advantage in the manufacture of components requiring encapsulated electronics. This new 3D printing process can be developed as an add-on technology for existing AM platforms and also incorporated into next generation AM technologies.
“We see THREAD transforming the functionality of additively manufactured components,” says Chris Iveson, who is driving the commercialisation of the technology. “Feedback from our contacts in various industries indicates a real need for this capability, with new potential applications being discussed daily. This is a great example of the AMRC using its unique expertise to solve real industry problems.”
The AMRC with Boeing is continually developing THREAD technology for various markets.