The first UK based high temperature polymer additive manufacturing machine (EOS P800) at the University of Exeter.
Three dimensional parts are built up in two-dimensional layers as little as 0.05mm thick allowing complex, interlinked components to be manufactured.

The group is the UK leader in additive manufacturing of polymer and metal matrix composites, particularly nanocomposites and light weight honeycombs and multifunctional structures for aerospace, medical and transport applications. We are also pioneering research on the diffusion of additive manufacturing technology in industry, in particular on how to enable and speed up the wide spread adoption and usage of this technology in manufacturing industry.

Additive manufacturing (AM), also referred to as Rapid manufacturing, is a technology that build parts/products from CAD data in a layer by layer, additive fashion. Unlike traditional manufacturing technologies which build products by cutting away materials through a large number of processes and produce vast amounts of materials and energy wastages, AM builds parts in an additive manner in one step. It can produce parts with complex internal and external features without difficulty and usually without moulds or tooling and can reduce manufacturing wastages significantly.

Rapid manufacturing technology has grown out of Rapid Prototyping (known as RP). The difference is that RM can directly produce high quality fully functional products, whilst RP can only produce design prototypes or tools to be used to produce functional products. Many applications in the aerospace, transport and healthcare industry require high quality, high strength, light weight parts and products with complex geometrical structures that are ideally suited for the AM technology.

Research areas

  • Light weight honeycombs, particularly how to reduce product weights by providing micro honeycomb structures in manufactured parts, and how to optimise these local structures to provide products with best performance whilst reducing weight.
  • Polymer and metal matrix composites, in particular nano-structured composites. Additive manufacturing provides a unique process for manufacturing composites structures. We are interested in materials laser interactions in the process and the inclusion of nano-tubes in the manufacturing. Polymeric composites include; High Performance and High Temperature Manufacture of Polymeric composite structures based on PEK and similar materials for medical, aerospace and automotive composite structures based on nanoparticles and CNT reinforcement.
  • Multifunctional components, in particular electromechanical devices. The interest is to build sensors and actuators into parts during manufacturing so that a whole functional system can be integrated in one part.
  • Process optimisation. The interest is on how to optimise process designs and parameters to reduce materials wastage, energy consumption and to speed up operations, and how to optimise product and process designs together. Research also includes the use of spectral (Raman) and thermal techniques to optimise parts performance in manufacture.
  • Technology diffusion. We are interested in how to enable the technology to have a rapid phase of diffusion and be adopted through the manufacturing supply chain. In particular, we research parameters and factors contributing to the process, and new business models and leverages that will facilitate and speed up the process.

Centre for Additive Layer Manufacturing

The Centre for Additive Layer Manufacturing (CALM) is a £2.6M investment in innovative manufacturing for the benefit of businesses in the South West and across the rest of the UK. The University of Exeter was awarded funding for the centre from the European Regional Development Fund as a result of its excellent research and development work in the field of additive manufacturing and for its strong links with business

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