Additive Layer Manufacturing can create complex or bespoke parts. Photo by Tim Pestridge.

University invites businesses to the future of manufacturing

Businesses that are producing prototypes and developing products can now benefit from a pioneering £2.6 million facility at the University of Exeter.

Launching on Friday 16 September, CALM (Centre for Additive Layer Manufacturing) will enable businesses, entrepreneurs and researchers to harness the potential of ‘3D printing’.

The centre is offering heavily subsidised rates to SMEs in Devon, Dorset, Wiltshire and Cornwall, giving smaller businesses access to world-class facilities at affordable prices.

Additive Layer Manufacturing is a new production technique that can create complex or bespoke parts and complete products by building them up one layer at a time in specialist machines. This groundbreaking technique can significantly reduce the time it takes to get a product from the design stage into market.

CALM houses machines that can work in several materials, allowing for a huge range of possibilities in potential products. These include the UK’s only EOSINT P800, which can build parts at temperatures up to 385°C and was the world’s first system that enables production using high-performance polymers. These materials, including EOS PEEK HP3, are mechanically strong, and wear-resistant in the toughest of operating environments. Parts made of PEEK are being developed as an alternative to metals for applications including aerospace parts and medical instruments.

Businesses will also benefit from the technical expertise of CALM staff, gained through their experience in industry and engineering research.

VIPS, including business leaders, will join CALM’s partners and University engineers and managers at the launch event on 16 September.

Dr Sara Flint, Commercial Manager for CALM, said: “CALM will bring a unique set of facilities to the South West, opening up a wealth of opportunities for businesses. I look forward to welcoming companies to CALM and I encourage anyone who is developing a product to get in touch and discover what we can offer.”

This technique simplifies the manufacturing process by making it easier, cheaper and quicker to make prototypes and products. It also has potential environmental benefits, as the process wastes much less material than alternative methods, making it very efficient.

Dr Jean Botti, Chief Technical Officer and Executive Committee member of EADS, said: “EADS is very pleased to partner with leading academic institutions like the University of Exeter who are developing technical centres of excellence that will yield scientific benefits in a number of different domains.

“Our partnership with Exeter is a continuation of our strategy to access the tremendous technical talent that exists across the UK.”

The University of Exeter has an established reputation for materials research and additive layer manufacturing expertise and facilities. The University has previously worked with companies to develop products as diverse as medical implants, car parts and a museum clock through 3D printing.

Professor Ken Evans, Dean of the University’s College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, said: “Additive Layer Manufacturing is already a strength at the University of Exeter and we are extremely proud of this new centre, which is unique in the UK.

“By working with businesses at CALM, we will help ensure that the South West region plays a major part in shaping the future of manufacturing.”

CALM is supported by EADS and is part financed by the European Union with £1.5 million from the European Regional Development Fund 2007-2013, under the competitiveness operating programme.

 

Date: 16 September 2011

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