Dr Andrew Dickson
Postdoctoral Researcher

Andrew is a postdoctoral researcher with the I-Form advanced manufacturing research centre. Primarily based in University College Dublin, he is a member of the materials processing and development group within I-Form. Andrew Submitted his PhD titled “Fabrication of continuous fibre reinforced thermoplastic composites using advanced additive manufacturing processing techniques” in June 2019, graduating in December 19. His undergraduate degree in Biomedical Engineering was also conducted at UCD, during which time he developed an interest in 3D printing technologies and medical device design.

Andrew’s current research is focused on additive manufacturing (AM) of geometrically complex fibre reinforced thermoplastic composites for marine, aerospace and automotive applications. His research interests include polymer and fibre composite AM /3D printing, robotic AM processing, and the development of bespoke composite components through AM.

Linked-in Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrew-dickson-ph-d-463668114/

Research Interests (Lay Summary)

Andrew’s PhD studies involved developing a new technique for manufacturing woven fibre composite materials (such as carbon fibre or fibreglass) using 3D printing. Woven textiles and fabrics have been utilised for thousands of years for manufacturing of everything from clothing and building, to bulletproof vests and Formula 1 racing cars. These materials are excellent for resisting impact and tearing (like the impact of a bullet on a Kevlar vest or a rock hitting a boat hull), making them last longer and enabling them to withstand higher amounts of damage relative to ‘non-woven’ fabrics and textiles.

Weaving of materials like carbon fibre and glass can increase the material’s ‘toughness’, which makes them less brittle. These materials would traditionally be made on a loom, into large sheets by machine or by hand. By using a 3D printing system instead of a loom, small parts can be made without wasting material, and can benefit from “fibre steering”, allowing you to put the fibres in the best locations to withstand the maximum amount of force. In doing so, we make the composite parts stronger, lighter, cheaper and more eco friendly.


Technical Summary

Andrew’s PhD studies involved the development of a novel technique for the fabrication of woven composite structures by AM. The woven composites exhibited notched tensile strength almost 2X that of composite notched using conventional drilling/milling. Printed composite parts were also up to 60% stronger in bearing response testing than conventionally notched parts. These results were obtained by utilising fibre steering in conjunction with woven material, something that is not possible using other processing techniques. This unique process has benefits such as decreased material wastage, minimal fibre damage and higher part consistency versus conventionally machined composites.

This work has resulted in 4 publications and an international patent, which was granted in July of 2019. Andrew continuous to pursue the use of additive manufacturing for composite processing through multiple ongoing research and commercialisation projects in collaboration with marine and aerospace sectors.


Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing), Advanced Manufacturing, Composite Materials, Design for Manufacture (DfM), Failure Modeling, Materials Characterisation, Product Design, Robotics