Queen Mary joins €3m project to develop advanced 3D printing for aerospace repairs

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Queen Mary University of London is spearheading a transformative initiative in additive manufacturing (AM).

The DISTOPIA: DISTorting the Aerospace Manufacturing Boundaries: OPerational Integration of Autonomy on Titanium project is funded by Innovate UK under UK-EUREKA SMART advanced manufacturing programme.

This collaborative effort, which includes industry leaders like EPOCH, AMRC, ION Metal, Turkish Aerospace, and Authentise, aims to unlock the full potential of plasma-direct energy deposition (p-DED) techniques, ushering in a new era of AM efficiency and sustainability. 

DISTOPIA represents a significant leap forward in AM. By leveraging p-DED's exceptional speed and ability to create components with outstanding mechanical properties, the project disrupts the status quo. This innovative approach seamlessly integrates advanced digital manufacturing methods with cutting-edge material science, paving the way for a more sustainable and efficient future of repair techniques and remanufacturing of safety-critical components. 

While the project initially focuses on the aerospace industry's demands for lightweight, high-performance components, its impact has far-reaching potential. DISTOPIA envisions a future where p-DED revolutionises manufacturing, repair, and remanufacturing across diverse sectors like mining, chemical processing, and various engineering disciplines. 

Queen Mary plays a pivotal role in DISTOPIA, led by Dr Chinnapat Panwisawas, a leading expert in materials and solid mechanics. Dr. Panwisawas emphasises the project's commitment to sustainability: "Our team is dedicated to optimising p-DED processes for various materials and applications, ensuring the long-term viability of this technology. By minimising waste through repair and remanufacturing, DISTOPIA fosters a more environmentally responsible approach to production." 

The combined expertise of partners like EPOCH (wire-based materials), AMRC (advanced manufacturing research centre), ION Metal, Turkish Aerospace, and Authentise (data-driven workflow management and digital certification) is crucial for DISTOPIA's success. This collaboration ensures the development of a comprehensive, user-friendly p-DED solution that addresses the critical needs of diverse sectors. 

Queen Mary University of London is proud to be at the forefront of this groundbreaking initiative. DISTOPIA has the potential to upscale AM, not just through its technological advancements, but also by promoting sustainable practices throughout the manufacturing landscape. 

EUREKA is an intergovernmental network that includes 47 countries providing a joint platform for international cooperation in innovation. Organisations and companies applying through EUREKA programmes can access funding and support from national and regional ministries or agencies for their international R&D projects.