The University of Exeter has officially opened its “Centre for additive Layer Manufacturing” (CALM).
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. It is located in the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, enabling the centre access to a full range of engineering workshop facilities and equipment from other departments.
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.
CALM is delivered in collaboration with EADS UK Ltd, based at Filton, Bristol.
Via Ipmd.net // Photo credit: University of Exeter
The project is funded as part of the Research Council UK Cross-Research Council Programme – Digital Economy and is managed by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) on behalf of ESRC, AHRC and MRC. It is being led by the University of Exeter in collaboration with the University of Brunel and software developer Delcam.
The research has presented many challenges. Chocolate is not an easy material to work with because it requires accurate heating and cooling cycles. These variables then have to be integrated with the correct flow rates for the 3D printing process. Researchers overcame these difficulties with the development of new temperature and heating control systems.
Research leader Dr Liang Hao, at the University of Exeter, said:
“What makes this technology special is that users will be able to design and make their own products. In the long term it could be developed to help consumers custom- design many products from different materials but we’ve started with chocolate as it is readily available, low cost and non-hazardous. There is also no wastage as any unused or spoiled material can be eaten of course! From reproducing the shape of a child’s favourite toy to a friend’s face, the possibilities are endless and only limited by our creativity”.