Birmingham precious metal experts to work together in 3D printing

Article by Kerry Hebden

University of Birmingham
University of Birmingham researchers and Cooksongold Additive Manufacturing have received funding from the UK’s Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council for a project to develop precious metal alloys for additive manufacturing

UNIVERSITY of Birmingham researchers are teaming up with Cooksongold Additive Manufacturing to develop precious metal alloys for additive manufacturing, as part of a drive by the UK’s Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to boost economic growth and showcase the breadth of research and innovation across the country. 

Dubbed Early-Stage Prosperity Partnerships, the project is one of nine new regional partnerships between universities and manufacturing businesses, that will receive almost £5m (US$6.1m) from EPSRC, matched with funding from the business partners. 

Together with its partner, Cooksongold, which is part of the Heimerle + Meule Group, one of Europe’s largest refiners and processors of precious metals, the University of Birmingham is aiming to design, develop, fabricate, and test high performance precious metal alloys specifically customised for powder bed fusion (PBF).  

PBF is a 3D printing technique that joins powdered material point by point using an energy source, typically an electron beam, or in this case, a laser. Like other additive processes, this is done one layer at a time until the part is completed. 

PBF has a wide range of industry-specific applications in aerospace, healthcare, glass manufacturing, and jewellery, and supports a range of commonly used materials including aluminium, cobalt chrome, and copper, as well as glass-filled nylon and polypropylene. 

The project will see Biao Cai and Moataz Attallah from the School of Metallurgy and Materials, and healthcare technologies expert Sophie Cox from the School of Chemical Engineering collaborate with Selassie Dorvlo from Cooksongold. 

Speaking about the partnership, Cai, a lecturer of metallurgy and materials, said: “I am delighted with the success of our application and am looking forward to extending the working relationship with Cooksongold in this project, to tackle key industrial challenges in the precious metals industry.”

Article by Kerry Hebden

Staff reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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