‘THREAD’ is a patent-pending process, which means components can now be manufactured with in-built, continuous connectivity and additional functionality passing through the X, Y and Z axes.
AMRC Development Engineer and AM specialist Mark Cocking said: “THREAD has scope to simultaneously add multiple industry-recognised threads of differing materials into one component, giving the component additional functions. This will open AM up to a greater variety of uses.
“The development of this process is a potential game-changer. It could be used across many sectors such as medical, aerospace and automotive; where weight and size of components is critical or where components would benefit from integrated data transfer and the protection of sealed connective tracks.”
THREAD will be an advantage in the manufacture of components requiring encapsulated electronics. Components such as those used in medical prosthetics, consumer electronics or structural components that require electrical connections and until now, would have been secured externally to the component.
The nature of the ‘sealed’ conductive tracks could also be of benefit for components which may be sensitive to contamination from debris, corrosion or impact.
Chris Iveson, who is driving the commercialisation of the technology, said: “We see THREAD transforming the functionality of additively manufactured components. Feedback from our contacts in various industries indicates a real need for this capability, with new potential applications being discussed daily. This is a great example of the AMRC using its unique expertise to solve real industry problems.”
The AMRC are further developing the THREAD process and technology for various commercial markets. Manufacturers of 3D printers and industrial users of 3D printing processes are encouraged to contact the AMRC Design and Prototyping Group.