Nov 15, 2018 | By Thomas

A team from the I-Form advanced manufacturing research centre has been awarded first prize in a global competition for industrial 3D printing. The team – comprising UCD-based researchers in I-Form, the SFI Research Centre for Advanced Manufacturing – scooped a prize worth USD10,000 for the design and 3D printing of a disposable 3D printed reactor. The polymer reactor can be used to controllably mix chemical precursors used in the manufacture of pharmaceutical agents.

The winning I-Form entry being 3D printed. Image: I-Form

The objective of the contest was to design and print of a disposable 3D printed reactor for carrying out chemical reactions. As the materials move through the reactor, they mix and react to form the pharmaceutical intermediates or product. The part is known as a continuous flow reactor. This type of reactor is now becoming common within the pharmaceutical manufacturing sector, as they allow product to be produced continually, under more aggressive conditions, with better control over heating, cooling and improved mixing, enabling much faster reactions to be conducted. This can enable dramatic reduction in facility size and cost, with equivalent production rates.

The competition was run by INTAMSYS, a manufacturer of industrial 3D printing systems with its headquarters in Shanghai. The Irish team secured a prize worth USD10,000 – consisting of USD2,000, an INTAMSYS 3D printer, and several kilos of printing filaments for use with the equipment. The prize was presented to the Irish team at the Formnext additive manufacturing conference in Frankfurt on 14th November.

The competition challenged participants to showcase examples of 3D printing (also known as additive manufacturing) in jigs and fixtures, with the aim of achieving cost and lead-time savings in manufacturing.

The winning entry was a cross-disciplinary collaboration from an engineering team based at University College Dublin: the reactor was 3D printed by I-Form’s Dr Sarah Brady, under the supervision of I-Form centre director Prof. Denis Dowling. The reactor was designed by Dr Matthew Harding and Dr Steven Ferguson in UCD Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering, who are evaluating it for use in the intensified chemical synthesis of drugs.

One advantage of using 3D printing for the fabrication of flow reactors is design flexibility. In this example, the mixing chamber inside the reactor can be designed specifically to match the characteristics of a given reaction mixture, allowing the optimum reactor to be printed on-demand, at a fraction of the cost of traditional fabrication techniques. The continuous flow reactor was 3D printed using an Intamsys Funmat HT using PEEK material.

“I’m delighted to see the creativity and expertise of Irish researchers working in advanced manufacturing being recognised in this international competition,” said Prof. Dowling, I-Form’s Centre Director. “Additive manufacturing (3D printing) opens up a world of possibilities for industrial processes. At I-Form we work closely with industry to advance the low-cost, low-risk design of new products and the manufacture of high-value components with enhanced material performance, alongside the reduction of processing times and enhancing process reliability.”



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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