Xaar plc has announced the appointment of Professor Neil Hopkinson to a new role as Director of 3D Printing. Professor Hopkinson, who will join Xaar in March 2016, is the original inventor of the transformational High Speed Sintering (HSS) technology. He brings with him 19 years’ experience in additive manufacturing technology gained at the University of Sheffield, Loughborough University, De Montfort University, 3D Systems and the University of Nottingham.
In his new role with Xaar Neil will build a world-class team to continue the development of HSS technology as well as other additive manufacturing processes; the team’s focus will be to accelerate the success of Xaar’s OEM partners in the exciting area of additive manufacturing. HSS is a revolutionary technology which uses inkjet printheads and infrared heaters to manufacture products layer by layer from polymer powder materials at much higher speeds than other additive manufacturing processes.
Professor Hopkinson has already achieved significant success leading the Innovate UK funded Factum Project. This three year project, which concludes in 2016, was set up to develop supply chain and full scale production capabilities for novel additive manufacturing technologies for application in major industrial sectors within the UK economy through three key partners; Unilever (FMCG), BAE Systems (Aerospace) and Cobham Technical Services (Space and Communications). Xaar’s role, which is integral to this project, has focused on optimising the performance of specialist third party fluids in combination with its market leading printheads.
“Industrial 3D printing is entering an important phase of maturation and I am excited to be joining Xaar at this critical time”, comments Professor Hopkinson. “It is clear that inkjet printing will be an important enabling technology as the 3D printing sector scales up to be an integral part of mainstream manufacturing. As a leading supplier to printing equipment manufacturers all over the world, Xaar is in a strong position to accelerate the adoption of HSS technology within a number of key applications”.
“We are thrilled that Neil has agreed to join us” comments Xaar’s CEO, Doug Edwards. “We are excited about the potential for HSS and other additive manufacturing technologies to expand Xaar’s horizons and exploit new opportunities”.
The University of Sheffield, where Neil and the Factum Project have been based for the last few years, continues to lead the UK in the research and development of additive and advanced manufacturing processes. “We are proud of the achievements of Professor Hopkinson and his team and we welcome Xaar’s investment to progress the commercialisation of this exciting technology. It’s a fantastic example of how our research translates to industrial application and we look forward to continued engagement with Neil in his new role”, says Professor Mike Hounslow, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Engineering at the University of Sheffield.
Also commenting on Professor Hopkinson’s new role within Xaar, Paul Howells, VP R&D Packaging at Factum project partner Unilever, says “Xaar’s decision to invest in HSS is testament to the progress achieved by the Factum project. This is a very positive sign for the future of this technology and for Additive Manufacturing in the UK”.