Additive manufacturing technology is set to receive a £7 million boost, the government has announced.
Grants for collaborative research projects that will help businesses bring components and consumer items made by 3D printing more quickly to market will be awarded through an open competition.
The competition's primary aim is to help innovative companies take the next steps towards accelerating the adoption of additive manufacturing technologies, overcoming remaining technical barriers and exploring new business models.
Universities and science minister David Willetts 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.
He added: “We believe this new investment will help UK companies make the step change necessary to reach new markets and gain competitive advantage. Building on £20 million of previous Technology Strategy Board support for additive manufacturing innovation, it will help secure more of this game-changing high value activity for the UK, driving economic growth and enhancing quality of life.”
The competition will be managed by the Technology Strategy Board, the Engineering and 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.”
The ‘Inspiring New Design Freedoms in Additive Manufacturing’ competition will officially open on 3 December 2012.