Sheffield welcomes additive manufacturing experts

Posted on Friday, March 9th, 2012 in News| Share this article

Neil HopkinsonProf Neil Hopkinson and Dr Candice Majewski joined Sheffield’s Department of Mechanical Engineering in October, moving from Loughborough University with the aim of establishing cutting-edge, collaborative, Additive Manufacturing research throughout the University.

Additive Manufacturing (AM) involves the manufacture of parts, using a variety of materials and methods, without the requirement for any form of tooling. Major benefits of these technologies include the capacity to produce highly complex geometries, often allowing the complete re-design and optimisation of existing products, assemblies of moving parts, and the ability to produce customised products for no additional cost. The technologies have potential to radically transform the manufacture of commercial products and are of increasing interest in sectors as wide-ranging as automotive, aerospace, medical and consumer products.

An early audit of AM activities throughout the University has identified 18 members of academic staff with substantial research activities in the areas of AM, and Neil is leading the task of consolidating these activities, both within and beyond the University.

Both Candice and Neil conduct research into AM technologies in general, with a particular interest in polymer technologies, and more specifically in polymer sintering techniques.  Their overall focus is on the improvement and development of these processes in order to increase their suitability for a wide range of main-stream manufacturing applications.

Notable projects include further development of the High Speed Sintering process, invented by Neil in his previous position, and expected to be the first AM process to compete with injection moulding as a high volume production process. Candice and Neil are also working on the development of new materials for polymer sintering processes, both by means of a dedicated consortium of industrial partners and through individual collaborations with these companies, having already established, a methodology to quickly and efficiently identify materials with suitable characteristics for use in these technologies.

Candice is currently planning a research programme to investigate the control of the surface texture of parts produced using these technologies, both in terms of the processes and materials themselves, as well as drawing from other powder-based manufacturing and finishing processes. Both Candice and Neil are keen to form strong ties with other researchers within the University and from industry, and would welcome discussions with anyone working in relevant areas.

For more information, please see Candice and Neil’s University web-pages, or contact Joe Gaunt at the Polymer Centre.

Neil Hopkinson

Candice Majewski