Prime Minister Boris Johnson Gets Metal X 3D Print During University of Sunderland Tour

Member News

Prime Minister Boris Johnson got to see the innovation of metal 3D printing in action recently when he paid a visit to the University of Sunderland. The PM was even given his own special metal print of the number 10 printed with the Markforged Metal X.

During his visit, the Prime Minister witnessed the cutting-edge work being done by AMAP, Sunderland University's Institute for Automotive & Manufacturing Advanced Practice who are helping innovate product design and drive change in the manufacturing sector through cutting-edge research and practical application.

The tour was carried out by Carl Gregg of the SAM (Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing) Project, and Roger O’Brien of AMAP. The Prime Minister met members of the public during his visit and was given an inside tour of the university’s labs and manufacturing sections which are responsible for pioneering automotive research.

The SAM Project is an ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) Project managed by The University of Sunderland that aims to support SMEs in the manufacturing sector across the North East area. They help SMEs develop their business technologically in areas of design, supply chain, advanced manufacturing processes and maintenance.

The Prime Minister was given a 3D print of the number 10, printed as a block on the Metal X from 17-4PH stainless steel. Naturally, the PM was delighted.

We have no doubt it’ll find its way onto one of the PM’s desks!

On his visit, the PM said in an article for the Sunderland Echo, “Visiting Sunderland on Friday,  I saw the cutting edge work being done by AMAP - the virtual reality technology that is improving business efficiency, the 3D printing labs that are helping to innovate product design and the new inventions and green energy cars on the Innovation Factory floor that are driving sustainability and carbon reduction.”

The 3D printer that made the PM’s print, the Metal X, can 3D print metal parts in a wide range of metals, including H13 tool steel, A2 tool steel, D2 tool steel, Inconel 625 and the 17-4PH stainless steel used to make the PM’s print.

The Metal X utilises a print process called ADAM (Atomic Diffusion Additive Manufacturing) which is proprietary to Markforged. This technology prints parts in a metal powder surrounded by plastic. Parts are then sintered in an oven, with the plastic melting away and the powder transforming into solid, dense metal.

The benefits to 3D printing metal parts, as opposed to casting them, can be huge. It can result in cost savings of up to 92% per part and reduce lead times by 95%. It’s a great way to print replacement parts on-demand and ensure access to legacy parts. The technology is also being used in a wide range of industries to advance research.

For example, it has been used to manufacture end-use mechanical parts, production assembly jaws, vices, jigs, robotics components, automotive components and tooling for a wide range of industries. Its large 300 x 220 x 180 mm (WDH) build volume means it’s suited to printing larger parts and tools in one sitting.

Markforged also offers Print Farms, which start with 3 or 5 Metal X models and can be combined with their Composite 3D Printer Range to enable 24/7 printing on the shop floor.