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AMRC Develops Hybrid 3D Printing Process

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The Design and Prototyping Group at the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Center (AMRC) has developed a unique hybrid 3D printing process that allows electrical, optical and structural elements to be introduced throughout an additively manufactured component during the build process.

THREAD prints embedded electro optics.
 A component manufactured from the patent-pending THREAD process. Courtesy of AMRC.

THREAD is a patent-pending process, which means components can now be manufactured with in-built, continuous connectivity and additional functionality passing through the X, Y and Z axes. The fully automated THREAD process is suited to a variety of additive manufacturing (AM) platforms and has been demonstrated on machines used for 3D printing polymer components.

“THREAD has scope to simultaneously add multiple industry-recognized threads of differing materials into one component, giving the component additional function,” said Mark Cocking, development engineer and AM specialist at AMRC. “This will open AM up to a greater variety of uses. The development of this process is a potential game-changer. It could be used across many sectors such as medical, aerospace and automotive, where weight and size of components [are] critical or where components would benefit from integrated data transfer and the protection of sealed connective tracks.”

THREAD aims to be an advantage in the manufacture of components requiring encapsulated electronics such as those used in medical prosthetics, consumer electronics or structural components that require electrical connections and, until now, would have been secured externally to the component. The nature of the sealed conductive tracks could also be of benefit for components which may be sensitive to contamination from debris, corrosion or impact.

“THREAD has potential to be developed as an add-on technology for existing AM platforms and also incorporated into next generation AM technologies,” Cocking said.

The AMRC is further developing the THREAD process and technology for various commercial markets.

AMRC introduces advanced techniques, technologies and processes to manufacturers of any size to in order to increase their competitiveness.

Autumn 2017
Businessadditive manufacturingDesign and Prototyping GroupUniversity of SheffieldAdvanced Manufacturing Research CenterAMRC3d printingmaterialsEnglandindustrialEuro News

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