No more toys: 3D printing grows up

3D printing has grabbed popular imagination. But the polymer printers widely available today are not the technologies that will transform manufacturing and mass customisation of products. If 3D printing is to realise its potential to produce parts that can compete on stength, durability and functional properties, we will need printing methods that can use a wide range of metal alloy, composite and organic substrates. To optimise the production of lightweighted parts with novel geometries will require new computer modelling tools. And if 3D printing is ever to work on a nanoscale, to create functional materials such as batteries, then we may need entirely new material deposition techniques. As we start this journey we can be sure of one thing: the 3D printers of tomorrow will not look anything like the printers of today.

I'm curious about..."being able to print a fully functional battery from scratch"Billy Wu


Dr. Billy Wu is a lecturer in the Dyson School of Design Engineering where he leads the Autonomous Systems and Advanced Manufacturing division and jointly leads the Electrochemical Science and Engineering group. He also co-leads the Imperial College London Additive Manufacturing Network. Billy received his PhD from Imperial College London on modelling and testing of proton exchange membrane fuel cell hybrid powertrains for electric vehicles and completed post-doctoral research on large-scale energy storage systems.


Billy's research focuses on additive manufacturing (3D printing) and electrochemical devices. His work explores:

  • Industrial-grade additive manufacturing based on alloys and other novel materials;
  • Solution-chemistry based methods for additive manufacturing;
  • How to improve longevity, safety and performance characteristics of batteries and fuel cells for applications such as electric vehicles.

Foresight and futures work

2036: Tech Foresight
Future of materials science, additive manufacturing and design

Profile Credits

Kit Huckvale