A global supplier of ultrasonic measurement products to the medical and academic sectors has brought a new product to market thanks to 3D printing and materials experts at the Coventry-based Manufacturing Technology Centre.
Precision Acoustics came to the MTC for help when they were looking to launch a new anechoic test tank liner for measuring ultrasonic signals at frequencies below 1MHz.
The surface structure of the tank liners is critical for the optimum performance at these frequencies and producing a mould into which the absorber materials of the liners could be cast was proving a challenge. Conventional machining methods could not be used to manufacture the complex geometries.
An SME team from the MTC’s Manufacturing Support Services worked with Precision Acoustics to come up with a appropriate material to use for the 3D printing of the moulded former.
Using the MTC’s large-build envelope 3D printer, the team was able to produce a full-size liner template using a simulated polypropylene material. Using this material and process, a template was produced with the right mechanical properties and surface finish to enable Precision Acoustics to produce a mould from silicone in a cost-effective way.
Dorchester-based Precision Acoustics, established in 1990, is a major supplier of ultrasonic measurement products to the medical and academic sectors, and also for companies involved in non-destructive testing.
Precision Acoustics research physicist Megan Jenkinson-Garner said, “The support, advice and expertise the MTC team offered throughout was invaluable and the outcome was one we wouldn’t have been able to achieve otherwise. Together we’ve been able to develop a solution that enables us to reach new markets and engage with more customers, while building our own understanding and knowledge of additive manufacturing which will undoubtedly benefit us in future projects.”
MTC research engineer Chris Burchell said, “We really enjoyed working with the Precision Acoustics team. They had a clear target that they wanted to achieve and they were very engaged throughout the project. It was a true collaboration which enabled us to work through the design iterations at pace and to a specification that overcame all the challenges they had faced previously.”
The MTC Manufacturing Support Services team has worked with more than 500 SMEs, and at any one time has more than 150 live projects.
The MTC was founded by the University of Birmingham, Loughborough University, the University of Nottingham and TWI Ltd. The MTC’s industrial members include some of the UK’s major global manufacturers.
The MTC aims to provide a competitive environment to bridge the gap between university-based research and the development of innovative manufacturing solutions, in line with the Government’s manufacturing strategy. The MTC is part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, supported by Innovate UK.