EOS & AMCM Join Forces with University of Wolverhampton to Establish UK Centre of Excellence for Additive Manufacturing

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German additive manufacturing (AM) powerhouses EOS and AMCM will partner with the UK’s University of Wolverhampton, home of the Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills (ECMS), to establish the UK Centre of Excellence for AM. The new facility will be located at the ECMS, and is funded in part by the UK’s Regional Innovation Fund (RIF).

Announced in October 2023, the RIF is backed by £60 million (~$74.4 million), and aims to stimulate innovation at universities located in areas with historically lower levels of R&D investment. The University of Wolverhampton’s Additive Manufacturing Research Group, along with Additive Analytics, a spin-off company from that department, will run a material and process development program at the Centre of Excellence, which is also meant to serve as an AM R&D hub for the local area.

While some of the rationale for creating a dedicated national AM facility at the University of Wolverhampton no doubt stems from the UK’s need to play catch-up to the US in its advanced manufacturing capabilities, it is notable that Wolverhampton has twenty years experience working with EOS machines. One of the new systems that the facility will include is the AMCM 290 FLX, an EOS M 290 machine customized with nLIGHT lasers, which enable beam shaping.

Image courtesy of AMCM

In a press release about the establishment of the UK Centre of Excellence for AM at the University of Wolverhampton, the director of the ECMS at the university, Professor Arun Arjunan, said, “The establishment of the UK Center of Excellence for copper AM marks a significant milestone in [AM], setting the stage for a new era of innovation, sustainability, and responsible manufacturing. Future projects will investigate the integration of laser process data and machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies for efficient material and laser process development.”

Nathan Rawlings, sales manager at EOS UK, said, “The UK manufacturing sector has always pushed forward and embraced innovation. [AM] with materials such as copper offers huge benefits for product designers but they can be demanding for manufacturers to work with. This new Centre of Excellence will create and test the processes that enable material benefits to be reliably and consistently realized in real-world component manufacturing.”

Image courtesy of EOS

Above all, the specific focus on copper here may be the most interesting angle to the announcement. As I’ve documented in many posts over the last several months, the UK government is steadily ramping up its focus on advanced manufacturing, a trajectory that the Centre of Excellence is wholly a part of. One major aspect to that same trajectory is the UK government’s emphasis on ‘critical mineral resilience’, a topic it published a study on in December 2023.

Enhancing the nation’s copper supply chains with AM would certainly be a good proof of concept for tackling the sort of issues at the heart of the critical mineral resilience strategy. Along these same lines, the UK and US also just jointly prohibited the import of Russian aluminum, nickel, and copper.

Finally, EOS recently released a copper-nickel alloy as part of its work for the US submarine industrial base program. The connection between the US and the UK in the AUKUS trilateral partnership with Australia means that the US submarine industrial base’s propulsion of metal AM in the US has likely already spread to the UK.

Feature image: Orbex’s custom-made AMCM M4K 3D printer. Image courtesy of Orbex.

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