Press Release – A new collaboration to advance 3D printing of high-performance aerospace polymers promises vast benefits to advanced manufacturing in the UK
We are excited to announce the start of a collaborative project between LEHVOSS Group, University of Exeter (Centre for Additive Layer Manufacturing), Victrex, FDM Digital and GRM Consulting and Q5D.
The project – named Overprinting with high-performance polymers (OverHIPP) – is part of the Innovate UK Smart grants program.
The OverHiPP project will progress through several test stages to finally use a 5-axis additive platform to overprint onto composite sheet materials using proprietary polymers such as PPS, PEI and PAEK (including PEEK). Polymeric modification of these materials with fibers and functional fillers along with lab based analysis and advanced manufacturing knowledge combine with a highly tuneable build simulation to further enhance FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication) methods of additive manufacturing. The unique multi-planar capabilities of Q5D hardware will enable these enhancements to be applied to pre-formed composite shapes with complex three-dimensional surfaces.
Incorporating additive manufacturing into established methods of mass production using formed composites will remove huge tooling costs from overmoulded products and provide greater design freedom and reduced development time. Features such as stiffening ribs, mounting plates and bosses as well as embedded wiring, insulating and protective coatings can be included in structural parts for light weight, feature rich components suitable for robotic assembly.
Development will take guidance from an advisory panel of recognised companies from high end manufacturing groups representing Aerospace, Automotive, Medical and Defence. This will ensure the outputs of the project closely match the requirements of future products of the UK and beyond.
Q5D is a relatively new company which has been built from a foundation of successful product development and innovation.
CTO Chris Elsworthy (CEL-UK MD and lead engineer behind Robox 3D printers, POWER8workshop power tool range among many others) has experience at every stage of manufacturing and spotted the benefit of 5-axis 3D printing during development of Robox and RoboxPRO.
All Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF – aka FDM) 3D printers build by extruding a layer of polymer on a flat base then adding more layers on top of this to create a 3D model. This approach is well known and very valuable for low volume and development. Chris and the Q5D team recognised limitations in FFF and have created a platform which can print directly onto pre-formed base parts in any shape without support material. This reduces cost and waste while providing a huge speed increase in manufacturing by employing high speed mass production techniques which are finished and modified using Q5D’s additive methods.
The OverHiPP project, started in June 2021, will be completed within 2 years with a budget of £1.2m.
Further detail, quotes and images are available in the press release below.