Digital Fabrication - 3D printing

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Digital Fabrication
Biomedical Materials

The University of Manchester Centre for Digital Fabrication has the largest concentration of inkjet related academic expertise within the UK focused upon both the greater understanding of the inkjet process as well as its exploitation into existing and novel application areas.
Areas of fundamental research include:
•Influence of fluid formulation on the drop generation process.
•Influence of the drop generation process on fluid properties.
•Drop substrate interactions on non-porous, porous and heterogeneous surfaces.
•Resolution of printed features, drop-drop interaction, feature stability,
•Drying and solidification of printed drops, the coffee stain (ring) effect.
•Film formation of 2D through to 3D structures.
•Advanced fluid mechanic simulation of drop formation and interaction with substrates.
•Novel functional materials including polymers, ceramics, metals, liquid crystals, structured carbons, graphene, biological materials and nano-dispersions.

Material printers

These material printers offer a wide range of resolutions and deposition mechanisms ranging from a simple single piezoelectric print head to dual head configurations. Several of these printers are compatible with multiple print head allowing the maximum flexibility with regards to material handling and deposition.

Notion – The N.Jet printer from Notion systems allows the flexibility to optimise and demonstrate scale up from an R&D level to industrial relevance. The Printer can accommodate several printhead configurations and the current specifications have been chosen to reflect the broadest range of applications to provide maximum flexibility. An integrated pinning bar helps to maintain the printing integrity prior to a full cure. To ensure minimum contamination and a dust free environment this printer is housed in a clean room.

Dimatix – 1.5 ml cartridge capacity, Fiducial camera, 16 nozzles at 254 mm spacing can use Aqueous, Solvents, Acidic and Basic inks and can operate over an A4 substrate area.

Superinkjet printer -This small printer can easily print micron sized features comparable to that achieved by photolithographic methods. The printer operates under normal ambient conditions and has an easy nozzle exchange system. The printer is compatible with a wide range of inks and viscosities. To ensure minimum contamination and a dust free environment this printer is housed in a clean room.

Bioprinter – Bioprinting is a rapidly expanding area of interest and the Pixdro LP50 offers a flexible approach to the printing of biological materials. This dedicated bioprinter is housed within a class 2 laboratory complete with cell culture facilities to ensure maximum cleanliness with minimised culture to print time and vice versa. Bioprinting experiments can also be performed using the Dimatix and MPP 1000 printers.

Microfab -In-house designed and built printing platform based on Microfab Technology

Xenjet – compatible with industrial printheads

Mimaki – The colouration and design of textiles are vital to the equality and saleability of the product. Therefore with the development of inkjet printing technology for textiles the creative boundaries have been broken and textiles designers have “released”. At Manchester the Digital Printing Centre has the latest AVA CAD Design Print systems coupled to Mimaki printers. This powerful technology combination linked to the wider world class weaving, knitting and colouration facilities in Textiles and Paper allows the textile technology platform to be manufactured and effectively interfaced with innovative print design.

Three-dimensional suite

Object – Capable of generating smooth surfaces and prototyping designs which include small working parts and thin walls.

Bitsy – Ideal for educational and Outreach applications. A simple cost effective technology.

Zcorp – A powder based printer the Z printer 310 prints a binder onto a powder bed. Utilises the following file formats. File Formats for Printing STL, VRML, PLY, 3DS, ZPR


•TA Ares controlled strain and Bohlin controlled stress rheometers; for the rheology and viscosity of solutions, dispersions and gels.
•Rheosense e-VROC viscometer.
•Anton Parr microviscometer; for the accurate determination of low viscosity fluids such as inkjet inks.
•Brookfiled LV-II viscometer.

Surface tension and surface energy

•Kruss FTA100 with controlled temperature and environmental chamber for determination of surface tension, contact angle and surface energy of fluids and substrates.
•Particle Size Analysis
•Dynamic light scattering, Malvern Nanosizer Z (NIBS) with flow cell, Zetasizer ESA9800 and a Coulter counter. For the determination of particle size and distribution covering the broad size range 1nm to 250μm. Zeta potential can also be determined.

Deposited structures

Access to a number of imaging technologies including:
•AFM, sub-nanometer vertical and lateral resolution for surface characterization
•STM, characterisation of conducting and semiconducting surfaces down to a sub-molecular level.
•SEM, TEM and Near-field Scanning Optical Microscope (NSOM) for the imaging of printed structures.
•Veeco Dektak 8 Surface Profilometer and optical interferometry for surface topography and roughness
•X-ray diffraction capability including powder and single crystal diffractometers.

Thermal characterisation

•Dynamic Mechanical Thermal Analysis (DMTA) measure a wide range of forces, such as torsion, tension, bend and shear in polymers, as a function of the temperature and humidity
•Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC) – The Perkin Elmer Pyris1A measure thermal transitions in polymers, such as glass transition and to melting point. In liquid crystalline materials it can be used to determine phase transitions and to measure the enthalpy involved.
•TA Q5000IR hi-resolution TGA evaluate the stability of organic materials and polymersFlow micro-calorimetry is also available.


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