Funding is available for business-led, collaborative industrial research projects in the UK that will stimulate innovation in additive manufacturing (also known as 3D printing) and develop wider digital manufacturing capability.
A budget of up to £4.5 million has been allocated to this competition. Projects must range in size from total costs of £500,000 to £1.5 million. Funding is for one to three years.
No more than 30% of the total project grant can be allocated for research organisation funding.
Innovate UK (IUK) is to invest up to £4.5 million in collaborative industrial research projects that stimulate innovation in additive manufacturing - also known as 3D printing. The aim of this Connected Digital Additive Manufacturing Competition is to help companies overcome barriers to business growth in additive manufacturing (AM). It will also encourage companies to explore and develop their wider digital manufacturing capability in order to secure a more productive and competitive business proposition in the future.
Additive manufacturing is a well-established tool for rapid prototyping and tooling. It can also provide direct production of end-use components and consumer goods. These can be in a wide variety of global market sectors from medical devices to aerospace.
For additive manufacturing, the project must focus on one or more of the four priority topics:
- Novel additive manufacturing build process with a viable route to market for UK-based machine platform manufacture.
- Large-scale build platforms with a build size in metres with a viable route to market for UK-based machine platform manufacture.
- Automation, predictability and cost reduction in the pre- and post-process material supply and finishing activities. Projects must show a significant improvement to the overall AM process chain productivity.
- Innovative hybrid or interrupted AM processes and/or their integration with the adjacent process(es)
This area should take up most of the project costs (ie at least 70%). IUK recommends that applicants use Manufacturing Readiness Levels to set up the project plan. The expected start point is MRL 3 or higher.
For connected digital manufacturing, the project should find new sources of value and competitive advantage in the wider AM process chain. The project must include innovation in the integration of the AM process with wider industrial and commercial processes. Integration should be through the use of intelligent digital manufacturing techniques built upon internet-enabled systems, processes, products and services.
The project must develop at least one of the following five connected digital manufacturing capabilities:
- Interoperability: ability of internet-enabled machines, devices, sensors and people to connect and share data with each other securely (and seamlessly) without the need for specialist technical expertise on the part of the user.
- Enriched modelling: integration of raw, operational data from sensors into elements of models and simulations to improve the accuracy and completeness of their predictions and to aid visualisation and decision-making.
- Autonomy: ability of machines and systems to make decisions and perform tasks with limited human assistance/intervention and to learn from experience and data.
- Real-time insights: capability to collect and analyse data from manufacturing operations and provide the derived insights to support decision-making in real or near-to-real time.
- Modularity: engineering of flexible and modular systems, components and services that can be adapted, added, removed and interplayed to meet changing requirements.
The proposal must make clear which of these capabilities is being developed. This element should account for 15% to 30% of the total project costs.
The connected digital manufacturing activity must be compatible with the AM project innovation topic. It must not be confined to academic research or system modelling. This connectivity must be demonstrated before the completion of the project, however, they do not both need to be aimed at a combined commercial offering in the future.
IUK encourages innovation projects that are inspired by, and respond to, genuine insight into customers' needs, motivations and behaviours. Applicants may engage with customers, suppliers, professional designers and other stakeholders as part of the project.
The following cannot be funded through this competition:
- Incremental innovation or development of existing (commercially available) machine platforms.
- Development of products made on standard, commercially available AM machine platforms using existing or new materials.
- Atomic layer deposition.
- Rapid prototyping and tooling machine platforms and related applications.
- Connected digital manufacturing activity that is unrelated to the AM innovation project content.
Projects must be led by a UK business in collaboration with at least one other business. Research and academic organisations can be part of a consortium.
The amount of funding available to UK project partners varies, depending on the type of organisation and the type of research being carried out.
Costs associated with eligible projects.
The programme is now closed.
- The deadline for registration was 20 July 2016.
- The full application deadline was 27 July 2016.
Link to guidelines:
The key dates for this scheme are:
- Competition open: 23 May 2016
- Briefing event in London: 7 June 2016
- Registration deadline: 12 noon, 20 July 2016
- Expressions of interest deadline: 12 noon, 27 July 2016
- Decision to applicants: October 2016
Projects will be identified through a single-stage application and assessment process. Interested parties must first register online through IUK's website when full application details will be made available.