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Revolutionary Large Format Additive Manufacturing Initiative Poised to Transform UK Industries

by Anna

A groundbreaking collaborative effort between a global consortium of companies and academic institutions is on the cusp of revolutionizing industrial additive manufacturing within the United Kingdom. The Evo One ‘large format additive manufacturing’ (LFAM) project, a dynamic partnership encompassing industry pioneers Evo-3D, the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS), Rolls-Royce, Filamentive, AI Build, and Baker Hughes, is poised to introduce advanced manufacturing of high-value components to key sectors in the country. This endeavor has garnered £1.1 million in funding from Innovate UK, a beacon of innovation agency in the UK.

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LFAM is an innovative 3D printing technique specifically designed for the commercial realm, with a focus on creating voluminous polymer components. These components have far-reaching applications across industries such as aerospace, automotive, energy, and marine. While nations like the USA, Germany, and China have embraced this technological shift, the UK is yet to establish itself as a manufacturer of large format 3D printers, currently accounting for just 5% of the global additive manufacturing market. This consortium’s aspiration is to elevate this figure to 8% by 2025, and their solution could be the key to realizing this ambition.

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Existing LFAM systems have faced limitations, encompassing sluggish build times, incompatibility with high-value or high-integrity parts, operational intricacies, dependence on unsustainable materials, and being financially out of reach for small and medium-sized enterprises. The Evo One LFAM project is dedicated to addressing these challenges head-on, tailoring its advancements to cater to the unique demands of the UK market. The project’s visionary design team aims to elevate reliability by 60%, achieve a 50% boost in productivity, trim training and maintenance expenses by 30%, and dramatically reduce material waste by an impressive 80%, amongst an array of other enhancements.

Upon project completion, Evo-3D will unveil a spin-out business, christened RapidFusion, that will commercialize this innovative system, effectively creating the UK’s inaugural original equipment manufacturer (OEM) in the LFAM domain. This development has the potential to lay the foundation for an entirely new supply chain, leading to the repatriation of critical manufacturing capabilities and allowing more UK manufacturers to harness the transformative potential of Industry 4.0 – the herald of the fourth industrial revolution.

Jake Hand, Director of Marketing and Development at Evo-3D, underscored the significance of this initiative, stating, “The UK is behind other major economies when it comes to LFAM. What we are aiming to do through the development of this system is democratize high-value, environmentally responsible manufacturing in the UK through a system that will bring the latest technology and capabilities to large and small businesses.”

The NMIS team is poised to play a pivotal role in the project, leveraging their expertise in material analysis, design, and the additive manufacturing process. Validation and verification of the system, as well as the utilization of high-value materials, will be closely scrutinized. Collaborators including Rolls-Royce and Baker Hughes are primed to test the system’s readiness, while AI Build is contributing to the development of the slicing technology – a crucial element in additive manufacturing.

Stephen Fitzpatrick, Director of the Digital Factory at NMIS, emphasized the potential for UK leadership in large format additive manufacturing. He articulated, “Putting the right technology in as many manufacturers’ hands as we can is a great base to build on, and having a UK-based OEM is the first step in that direction.” He expressed confidence in the transformative capabilities of this collaboration, foreseeing a more sustainable and globally competitive sector bolstered by innovation and cutting-edge technology.

As this consortium nears the culmination of their innovative LFAM project, the UK’s industrial landscape stands at the precipice of an epochal transformation. With the convergence of visionary partners and advanced technology, the initiative is poised to ignite a renaissance in high-value component manufacturing, propelling the nation toward a future marked by innovation, resilience, and competitiveness on the global stage.

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