Innovate UK grant supports £2.5 million project lead by Photocentric for sustainable mass 3D printing – TCT Magazine

17 October 2022
Photocentric has obtained backing from Innovate UK under the Sustainable Smart Factory investment to lead the development of a novel autonomous 3D printing process using recycled materials.
The company aims to create a cost and carbon effective process for printing polymer parts as a replacement for injection moulding through its Low Energy Autonomous Digital (LEAD) factory concept. Although injection moulding has been traditionally used for large batches, in low-volume applications additive manufacturing is often being utilised as it is more cost-effective with the elimination of tooling costs, says Photocentric.
The LEAD project includes Photocentric’s Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) technology powering arrays of its 3D printers. Photocentric says the automated digital process uses single-flow production lines that start with liquid resin at one end and autonomously deliver functional plastic objects at the other, in scale.
The project will also compare the carbon footprint of traditional injection moulding manufacturing against 3D printing throughout its life cycle. Industry users will validate both methodologies. These include Games Workshop, a leading miniature manufacturer; Essentra Components, one of the UK’s largest injection moulders; and Unipart, a major manufacturing partner working various sectors including automotive and rail.
The Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) will be carrying out the carbon analysis derived from each process as an impartial third party. Photocentric says the process will create usable parts from bio waste and provide a novel energy-viable end-of-life recycling process for the thermoset plastics.
“We are thrilled to be part of the Smart Sustainable Factory and to be leading a project to build a greener Britain. We are manufacturing plastic parts from waste streams using low energy, reducing storage, minimising transport and materials,” said Paul Holt, CEO at Photocentric. “Thanks to the trust the UK government has placed in our technologies and thanks to Innovate UK financial backing, companies like Photocentric can develop strategic and sustainable innovation in manufacturing.”
14 million GBP has been awarded to projects that harness digital technology to drive energy efficiency, productivity and growth across key manufacturing industries through Innovate UK, which is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body.
TCT recently spoke to a variety of UK-based names in the additive manufacturing industry, asking the question “Should the UK Government be doing more to support the adoption of additive manufacturing in the UK?”
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17 October 2022

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