NCAM project to revolutionise 3d printing take-up


A project being launched at the National Centre for Additive Manufacturing, based at the Manufacturing Technology Centre aims to transform the use of additive manufacture or 3D printing in highly regulated industries.

Currently the adoption of additive manufacturing in highly regulated sectors such as aerospace and space is hindered in part by the lack of laid down standards for part quality, reliability, traceability and process repeatability.

The Daedalus project is funded by UK Research and Innovation through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. The project will help make the UK become the go-to place for forward-thinking manufacturing by enabling additive manufacturing in highly regulated sectors such as aerospace, space, oil and gas and medical.

Joining the National Centre for Additive Manufacture in this ground-breaking project are Bristol-based HiETA Technologies, who are leading the project, Arrowsmith Engineering (Coventry) Ltd, and global enterprise software business ValueChain Enterprises.

HiETA is a world-class design, development and production company pioneering the use of metallic additive manufacturing technologies. Arrowsmith is a precision engineering company which has worked in the UK aerospace supply chain for more than 50 years, supplying world aerospace primes. Valuechain provides modular solutions for advanced manufacturing sectors, and supply chain intelligence solutions.

Alex Morrison, advanced research engineer at NCAM, said, “We are really excited to start work on the Daedalus project. As part of the project consortium we can add significant value to the UK additive manufacturing community by demonstrating a digital thread running through a highly-regulated AM supply chain.”

Dominic Turner, senior manufacturing and operations engineer at HiETA, said, “We are delighted to be teaming up with NCAM alongside Valuechain and Arrowsmith on this project. It will allow HiETA and the UK supply chain to supply highly regulated markets much more easily by providing the digital traceability needed to satisfy entry requirements. This will keep the UK at the forefront of additive manufactures applications.”

As well as developing a single, traceable digital thread and the flexible integration of facility and production management systems, the project will develop artificial intelligence-enabled solutions for material and process control and stability.

The final demonstrator will be a digitally integrated AM supply chain which will be a secure, collaborative, intelligent and independent platform whereby reliable AM raw material and product traceability data can be shared between the supply chain partners.

The MTC – which is home to the National Centre for Additive Manufacturing – 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.