Disposable 3D-printed reactor scores global prize for Irish team

14 Nov 2018

From left: Charles Han, CEO of INTAMSYS, and Dr Sarah Brady of I-Form. Image: I-Form

A team from the I-Form advanced manufacturing research centre has been awarded first prize in a global 3D printing competition.

Science Foundation Ireland research centre I-Form, based at University College Dublin (UCD), is celebrating news that a team of its researchers were named grand prize winners for the design and printing of a disposable 3D-printed reactor.

The objective of the contest was to design and print a disposable 3D-printed reactor for carrying out chemical reactions – an increasingly popular design known as a continuous flow reactor. As the materials move through the reactor, they mix and react to form the pharmaceutical intermediates or product.

Worth $10,000, the prize is presented as part of a global 3D printing competition organised by Intelligent Additive Manufacturing Systems (INTAMSYS), an industrial 3D printer manufacturer and additive manufacturing solutions provider headquartered in Shanghai.

The design part of the competition challenged participants to showcase examples of 3D printing in jigs and fixtures (which guide the 3D printing tool), with the aim of achieving cost and lead-time savings in manufacturing.

Close-up of the winning 3D printed design being made.

The winning I-Form entry being 3D printed. Image: I-Form

The team members

The Irish team consisted of I-Form’s Dr Sarah Brady, who printed the reactor design under the supervision of centre director Prof Denis Dowling; and Dr Matthew Harding and Dr Steven Ferguson from UCD, who are evaluating it for use in the intensified chemical synthesis of drugs.

One of the biggest advantages of using 3D printing for the fabrication of flow reactors is the flexibility of design and, in this case, the reactor can be printed specifically to match the characteristics of a given reaction mixture.

The $10,000 prize consists of a $2,000 cash prize, an INTAMSYS 3D printer and several kilos of printing filaments.

“I’m delighted to see the creativity and expertise of Irish researchers working in advanced manufacturing being recognised in this international competition,” Dowling said.

“At I-Form, we work closely with industry to advance the low-cost, low-risk design of new products and the manufacture of high-value components with enhanced material performance, alongside the reduction of processing times and enhancing process reliability.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic