I- Form, the SFI Research Centre for Advanced Manufacturing, is delivering the next level of understanding and control for complex manufacturing processes. Our mission is to shape the future of manufacturing through high-impact research into the application of digital technologies to materials processing. I-Form brings together a nationwide pool of expertise in materials science, engineering, data analytics and cognitive computing. I-Form is applying exciting developments in digital technologies to materials processing, to improve understanding, modelling and control, thus increasing the competitiveness of Irish manufacturing on the world stage.
Funded by Science Foundation Ireland, I-Form works with industry to advance the low-cost, low-risk design of new products and the manufacture of high-value components exhibiting enhanced material performance, while reducing processing times and achieving improved process reliability. I-Form is actively engaged across a range of different materials processing technologies, with a particular focus on Additive Manufacturing (3D printing).
Research Focus Areas
- Process digitalisation, for optimisation and control
- Process simulation, for shorter development times
- Data analytics, enabling real-time process feedback
- Augmented reality, for enhanced operator decision-making
I-Form has strong collaborative industry engagement in sectors including medical devices, aerospace, automobile and microelectronic components.
Examples of projects I-Form is working on:
- Combining large volumes of existing process data with the examination of new materials and process conditions, in order to create a predictive model for manufacturing a new component. This is aimed at reducing the development time and trial-and-error cycles by more than 50 percent.
- Adding new types of sensors to processes to collect data – this is used to generate new process control algorithms that can adjust the process in real-time to ensure quality. This will significantly reduce the volume and regularity of quality inspection on the finished part.
- Enhancing or replacing an existing manufacturing process with a digitally based equivalent to increase flexibility, reduce cost and maintain competitiveness.
Academic Partner Institutions
- Dublin City University
- NUI Galway
- NUI Maynooth
- Trinity College Dublin
- Institute of Technology Sligo
- Waterford Institute of Technology
Education and Public Engagement
As a publicly funded research centre, I-Form is committed to public engagement: It’s important that we talk to the public about what we are doing, and why we are doing it. Public engagement also offers an opportunity for all of us to improve our communication skills and to ensure we remain connected to the bigger societal picture as we go about our research. From a theoretical perspective, the ethos of public engagement for I-Form is underpinned by a move away from deficit models of public engagement towards more dialogic and participatory models, with the ultimate aim of moving towards engaged research.
I-Form has developed three long-term goals for its public engagement activities; these tie in with the Centre’s vision and mission, and all our EPE activities aim to align with one or more of these goals:
I-Form’s education and public engagement remit is delivered through two main ‘pillars’:
- “Advanced manufacturing in education”
- “Diversity & community”
Our programmes include second-level teacher training in 3D printing, Transition Year student innovation challenges, primary school workshops, women in 3D printing meetups, youth group activities, and activities at festivals and other events.
I-Form will develop a range of different academic courses targeted at both undergraduate and graduate students. Online training programmes will target those currently working in manufacturing. These courses will address materials processing, AM and data-driven digital manufacturing, with shared modules enabling multi-site education.