Victrex and Exeter teams

Victrex and University of Exeter partnership to progress additive manufacturing to the next level

The University of Exeter will play a pivotal role in the development of the UK Additive Manufacturing (AM) sector, through a multi-million pound partnership with Victrex; a collaboration designed to exploit the full potential of high-performance PAEK polymers in Additive Manufacturing.

Building upon the successful relationship fostered over the last few years, Victrex and the Centre for Additive Layer Manufacturing (CALM) at the University of Exeter are entering a new and exciting five-year partnership. The aim is to further develop the next generation of PAEK polymers for Additive Manufacturing and commercialise novel material solutions throughout the supply chain (materials, processes, design, parts). It will also seek to develop a broader platform for new and existing AM technologies, to enhance the speed at which products can be prototyped and brought to market, and reduce waste levels involved in some of the current processes.

Oana Ghita, Professor of Materials and Manufacturing and partnership lead at the University of Exeter said: “We are naturally delighted to play such a crucial role in the evaluation of new VICTREX PAEK materials, explore chemistries, developing a deeper understanding of the material science and its relationship with new and existing additive manufacturing processes. Additive manufacturing is a rapidly evolving technology, and it is vital that we keep pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved in order to meet the needs of a wide range of industries. The outcomes of the partnership will give designers and developers access to the next generation of lightweight, affordable and more environmentally-friendly AM PAEK materials, opening up a wide range of new possibilities for the future.”

The research planned will add to the range of activities undertaken at University of Exeter from fundamental research to applied R&D, knowledge exchange, or entrepreneurial prospects. It will give students, interested in materials and manufacturing, opportunities to understand the engineering challenges in a creative and innovative space.

The partnership has identified two key industries that could benefit from the new project, particularly during the initial adoption phase. Experts believe the new polymers have the potential to advance for example aerospace manufacturing, and also improve the production of existing parts. They have also identified opportunities to manufacture new and improved devices for the medical industry, which could help create patient-specific implants.

Ian Smith, Marketing Director at Victrex said: “Victrex is keen to help overcome barriers to adoption and realise the full potential of PAEK/PEEK-based parts produced using Additive Manufacturing technology. If we are to truly enable the AM supply chain, we need to continue to work together to develop the underpinning science of AM processes and technologies to support building an eco-system that can address unmet industry needs and accelerate the adoption of PAEK/PEEK for AM technologies."

Date: 2 October 2018

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