3D printers give designers and concept development teams the ability to produce parts and concept models using a desktop-size printer and provide a cut-price way of developing all sorts of technologies, including consumer goods.
Some commentators believe the technology could have as profound an impact on the world as the coming of the factory as it cuts out the need for economies of scale.
Universities and science minister David Willets said: “3D printing technologies offer huge potential for UK businesses to compete successfully by embracing radically different manufacturing techniques that could be applied across a wide variety of global market sectors, from aerospace to jewellery.”
Grants for collaborative research and development (R&D) projects in 3D printing, will be awarded through an open competition run by the Technology Strategy Board, the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council.
Iain Gray, chief executive of the Technology Strategy Board, added: “We are delighted that this important initiative is supported by three research councils. By working together to stimulate innovation in this exciting and challenging area, we aim to accelerate the transition from fundamental research to the creation of new design, production and supply chain competences, capitalising on work we have previously funded. We want to make the UK a world leader in 3D printing. We are setting our sights high.”
Gray said the board has already invested nearly £20m in 3D printing over the last five years. The competition will open on December 3, 2012.
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