Professor Phill Dickens

PhD

Phill Dickens

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Job title: Professor
Division: Department of Mechanical, Materials and Manufacturing Engineering
Organisation: University of Nottingham
Tags: Fellowship: Foresight Fellowship, University of Nottingham
Related theme: Engineering Manufacturing the future

Biography

Phill Dickens founded the Rapid Manufacturing Research Group in the early 1990s. He was the first recipient of the International Freeform and Additive Manufacturing Excellence award in 2009. He has led international government missions, and given many international keynote speeches and acts as a consultant to this industry.

My Fellowship

The vision of this Fellowship is to see UK academics inventing entirely new Additive Manufacturing (AM) processes that are orders of magnitude faster than current processes, and to establish a UK Strategy for Additive Manufacturing that enables and accelerates UK industry to be world-leading at exploiting the technology.

AM (also known as 3D Printing) involves producing parts by adding layers of material rather than using subtractive processes (such as machining) or forming. AM is revolutionising modern manufacturing and product development, including the types of products that are designed and supply chains through which they are delivered. By placing material only where it is needed, in an additive, layer-wise fashion, it is possible to create very complex architectures and functionally graded features that enhance the functionality of a product.

By fabricating parts directly from digital files, without tools or fixtures, it is economical to make them locally in small quantities, opening the door to personal customisation and one-of-a-kind fabrication and repair. Companies have so far exploited the technology principally in the product development area for making prototypes and in this application it is now commonplace.

This Fellowship will investigate volumetric AM technologies that would reduce cycle times significantly. Volumetric AM has not yet been demonstrated, but, if successful, it could enable build speeds 100x current rates with a corresponding potential increase in the complexity and size of fabricated parts.

Motivation to Apply

Phill believes that AM has a very strong future but there are many areas requiring research for it to compete effectively with conventional manufacturing processes. One issue is the speed of AM processes. He believes it is possible to increase current build speeds by x100. He also believes that there is an opportunity for UK industry to be the leading nation in exploiting this technology and that a proper strategy and implementation plan will achieve this.

Career benefits of Fellowship

The Fellowship will enable both of the activities mentioned above to be undertaken. There will be time to lead the work on much faster AM processes and to take an active role in the development of a UK national strategy.

Advice for future applicants

Have a clear idea and plan which is clearly needed.