Mar 30, 2017 | By Tess

Xaar, a UK manufacturer of industrial inkjet printheads based in Cambridge, recently opened a new laboratory in Nottingham, where it will explore 3D printing technologies and the potential to scale them up for industrial volume. The company will reportedly be using a high-speed sintering (HSS) process to 3D print a variety of parts (including sneaker soles, airplane parts, etc.) at rates of up to 100 times faster than other industrial 3D printing processes.

Left to Right: Xaar CEO Dr Doug Edwards, chairman Robin Williams, and Professor Neil Hopkinson

Professor Neil Hopkinson, who is behind the HSS 3D printing method and was recruited to be head of Xaar’s 3D printing team, believes that additive manufacturing has the potential to be scaled up for high-volume production, and is on its way to becoming a more mainstream manufacturing process.

As he said: “In the 20 years we've been working with the technology, the accuracy and parts have improved substantially but our focus is on taking this to high-volume, industrial production. It's going to become a more mainstream form of manufacturing. When you design a product you normally have to constrain how you make it but with 3D printing, most of those constraints are removed.”

Hopkinson will work with the Loughborough University (which owns the patents for his HSS technology), located only a short distance from Xaar’s new Nottingham facility. The new research laboratory, which spans 5,500 square feet, will primarily be used to explore various 3D printing materials and their applications.

Currently, the lab is run by seven employees, though Xaar says it plans to double the workforce over the next few years. It seems likely that the company will turn to local universities, such as the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University, for potential hires.

"We're expecting this area to grow and to require a lot of heavily trained, highly skilled graduates, so it makes sense to locate ourselves in a part of the country where a lot of those graduates are being educated," said Hopkinson. "With Nottingham, and the close proximity to Sheffield and Loughborough, we see it being a rich source of our future graduate talent. We're hoping to be the number one choice for technology graduates in Nottingham."

The laboratory, which was launched with an opening ceremony this past Wednesday, will be working in a number of different fields, 3D printing parts for the aerospace, medical, and even sports markets. So far, Xaar’s lab has already made a customizable 3D printed heel structure for running shoes, which is on display in Xaar’s office.

(Images: Nottingham Post)

In addition to the new Nottingham lab, Xaar has also established a base in Copenhagen where 3D software is being developed. The inkjet printhead company’s foray into 3D technologies is reportedly part of its 2020 strategy to reach £220m in sales.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printer Company

 

 

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