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Creating a smart language for additive manufacturing

01 August 2018

A new language is being developed to help unlock the full potential of additive manufacturing (AM), enabling designers, AM engineers and inspectors to communicate.

AM is changing the way that products are designed, manufactured and measured but it means that traditional design rules will no longer apply. For its full potential to be unlocked, a smart language needs to be created that enables proper communication between designers and engineers.  

Dr Qunfen Qi, a research fellow at the University of Huddersfield’s EPSRC Future Metrology Hub – has been using category theory to develop computer-readable guidelines and rules for AM.

“The research can provide a smart language that enables designers, AM engineers and inspectors to truly communicate with each other in an intelligent, robust and productive way,” she said. “This will greatly improve the process repeatability and part-to-part reproducibility, and will significantly reduce power usage and failure rate, lower the cost of production and make a more environmentally-friendly manufacturing technology.”

Dr Qi’s research focus is on the application of mathematics theory and information technology to advanced manufacturing. Her University of Huddersfield PhD was co-supervised by the mathematician Professor Paul Scott, a Research Director at the EPSRC Centre.

Prof Scott has been investigating the use of category theory as a way of forming smart databases for over 15 years. One of the outputs has been a bespoke package created by Dr Qi that enabled Rolls Royce to design and measure surface texture. The goal now, however, is to create a smart language that can be widely used throughout industry and with no requirement for an in-depth knowledge of category theory.

“It will have an enormous range of applications, not just limited to advanced manufacturing, but in the future to be applied in smart cities, healthcare, social science and more,” said Scott.

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