At I-Form, the SFI Research Centre for Advanced Manufacturing, our mission is to shape the future of manufacturing through high-impact research into the application of digital technologies to materials processing.
We work in close collaboration with our industry partners to ensure that our research is relevant, applicable and impactful, delivering a step-change in competitiveness for Irish manufacturing. I-Form aims to be globally recognised as a leading centre in advanced manufacturing research by 2023.
Our research is focussed on materials processing, and the application of digital technologies to better develop, model and control that process. Materials processing can refer to any process that takes raw material A and, through a series of steps, transforms that material into end product B.
One focus area for I-Form is additive manufacturing (outside the manufacturing industry, this process is commonly known as 3D printing). This materials processing technology has the potential to significantly disrupt traditional manufacturing, and to create new markets and individualised products not previously possible, in areas such as medical devices, aerospace and pharmaceutical manufacturing. To achieve the larger scale and broader application of this evolving technology, its cost structures need to be significantly reduced. Through introducing digital solutions and bringing process understanding to a new level, manufacturers will be able to realise the promise of reduced cycle time, less waste and increased quality in production.
Aside from additive manufacturing, I-Form is actively engaged in developing next generation digital solutions across a range of different materials processing technologies, with the aim of driving efficiencies that will sustain and enhance the competitiveness of Irish manufacturing. The broad categories of materials processing we are working on include formative (e.g. moulding), subtractive (e.g. precision machining), additive, biological and chemical transformation of materials.
Our research can broadly be divided into three areas -
- Materials Processing Development research is focussed on understanding the correlation between process inputs and outputs, aided by the use of in-situ process monitoring sensors.
- Materials Processing Modeling research goes beyond state-of-the-art prediction tools to incorporate models of product performance to microstructure level.
- Materials Processing Feedback & Control incorporates real-time process data, historical performance and predictive modeling to generate machine-learning based process control tools for complex advanced manufacturing processes.