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AMBER Centre Unveils €4.3M 3D Printing Research Laboratory

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Image Credit: AMBER

The Advanced Materials and Bio-engineering research (AMBER) research centre based in Trinity, Ireland announced the launch of an innovative 3D printing laboratory. Known as the Additive Research Laboratory or AR-Lab, the state-of-the-art laboratory is worth €4.3 million and features some of the world class, custom-made machinery pulled together to advance AMBER’s research in addressing the fundamental material science challenges associated with 3D printing and to explore capabilities of 3D printing in creating 3D printed medical devices of the future.

The €4.3 million AR-Lab has been established with investments from the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), the European Research Council and the Trinity College Dublin (TCD) itself, which houses AMBER. The 3D printing laboratory has been established with a focus on conducting world-leading research into creating new materials, printing methods. In the lab, AMBER will also explore the capabilities of 2D and 3D printing in creating revolutionary medical, electronic, mechanical, optical, acoustic, heat transfer and sensing medical devices.

Speaking about how additive manufacturing will benefit Ireland, Heather Humphreys TD, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, commented, “Additive manufacturing has grown from strength to strength in the last number of years and I am delighted to see Ireland once again keeping pace with these disruptive technologies.

“AMBER’s new additive research lab highlights another new market entry for Ireland – one of crucial importance for industry in the future. With potential applications in industries such as healthcare and automotive, this is another great opportunity for Ireland to grow our global reputation for excellent and impactful research,” added Humphreys in the official statement released by AMBER.

Providing details of how the new lab will lead to new innovations, Dr. Patrick Prendergast, Trinity’s Provost said, “Additive manufacturing is being hailed as part of the ‘fourth industrial revolution”, marked by emerging technologies including nanotechnology, bio-technology, and the internet of things. However, the materials and techniques needed to progress from a niche area into widespread application requires intense research.

“The opening of this laboratory Trinity is an exciting development and will allow AMBER to undertake world leading research that will sponsor innovation and allow Ireland to exploit the technologies to deliver economic and societal benefits for the country,” Prendergast added.

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland said, “Science Foundation Ireland is delighted to support the establishment of a new additive manufacturing laboratory at the AMBER SFI Research Centre through the latest SFI Infrastructure Call. Ireland has built a reputation for cutting edge science and engineering and now attracts top international talent from across the globe.

“We are also educating the next generation of innovators here. However, this knowledge base must be underpinned by state-of-the-art facilities and equipment. Such infrastructure, provided by Science Foundation Ireland, provides the scientific community with the platforms they require for continued progress and achievement,” Ferguson added.

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Above: The Cerafab 7500 3D printer from Lithoz/ Image Credit: Lithoz

The AR-Lab features some of the state-of-the-art equipment which includes the CerFab 7500 3D printer from Lithoz – an Austria-based company that specialises in development and production of materials and additive manufacturing systems for 3D printing high-performance ceramic. The CerFab 7500 3D printer has been specially modified for AMBER and has been included for its ability to produce high-performance ceramics suitable for medical use.

Offering more details of the importance of laboratory for AMBER’s research in the 3D printing world, Professor Michael Morris, Director of AMBER said, “AMBER’s AR-Lab will be a pivotal component of AMBER’s research focused on the fundamental material science challenges associated with 3D printing e.g. the range and complexity of the materials that can be printed, the size of these features and how a number of material sets can be integrated into a functioning device”.

“We have invested in a customised suite of 3D printing technology which spans the full spectrum of materials from ceramics and metals to polymers and biomaterials. This investment will play a leading role in the emerging 3D printing national research ecosystem. It will enable AMBER to build on our foundation of innovative excellence in materials science and become leaders in this emerging technology which is critical to the manufacturing industries that support the Irish economy”, Professor Morris concluded.