Projects

Research Institute of Industrial Design and 3D Printing

The Research Institute for Industrial Design and 3D Printing is involved in numerous projects including:

Bio-printing

In recent years, traditional cell cultures have suffered 2D in-vitro limitations for further animal and clinical experiments, and the importance of 3D cell culturing will become significant in drug discovery. As a result, there is a significant interest in the development of 3D scaffolds that can be employed for 3D in-vitro cellular experiments.

In our research, we aim to develop new techniques and revolutionise the current scaffold fabrication process on three major improvements by creating:

  • biomimetic internal microstructure of human tissue in terms of orientation and 3D spatial organisation
  • multiple-scale feature (macro-scale and nano-scale shape, micro-scale internal architecture)
  • bioactive functionally-gradient-coating (BFGC) structure with multi-materials embedded.

These novel developments allow some of the current separated scaffolding process (e.g. patterning, coating and cell dispensing) to be replaced in a single fabrication operation and the whole fabrication process can be standardised for the analysis of biological performance.

Food printing

To date, 3D printing in food applications is still pretty primitive. For example, making personalised shapes of chocolates or producing simple homogenous snack products that do not possess a strong internal structure or heterogeneous texture. This is mainly because most of the food processing undergoes a series of simultaneous chemical and physical changes processes over a certain processing time span which does not exactly match with 3D printing technology. In particular, the baking process involves different levels of heat penetration to the dough and results in the non-homogenous texture of finished breads.

In our investigation, we aim to revolutionise bread making. This allows some of the slow processes to be pre-conducted or replaced (such as gluten formation and leavening) and the remaining processes to be 3D printed (for example shaping and baking). The preparation of pre-processed materials will focus on its capability of delivering the required properties of finished bread after going through the 3D printing, but at the same time, they should also have long shelf life. The 3D printing process will be developed focussing on the combined printing and baking capability.

Antique restoration

The application of 3D printing technology to antique restoration has been under development for a couple of years. Combined with 3D scanning and modelling technologies, restorers now can finish their work more efficiently and effectively. With the support of these technologies, the time and cost spent on the training for restoration are also significantly reduced.

However, the current application of 3D printing to antique restoration still focusses on small sized objects, given the limited printing space of most printers. For some restoration tasks, for instance the restoration of antique buildings or large sculptures, the current equipment and methods are still not adequate. We aim to investigate the situation and develop more capable equipment and methods to better meet the need in this area.