Digital manufacturing lab opens in Bath – updated

September 1, 2011 by
Filed under: News 

Companies are being invited to test and try out ground-breaking 3D printing technology in the Bath Ventures Innovation Centre. Using ‘RepRap’ technology developed at the University of Bath, the new Digital Manufacturing Labprovides easy access to 3D printing and prototyping for new product ideas, all in an environment supported by experts.

“This technology has strong potential benefits for local businesses, allowing them to manufacture items in-house at low cost,” said Lab manager Pia Taubert. “Our new Digital Manufacturing Lab is located right in the centre of Bath, making it really easy for businesses from the region to pop in and try out the machine. Having RepRap here in Bath will allow very small companies access to very powerful technology. We hope that being able to use RepRap will increase awareness among local businesses of the potential of this type of machine.”

RepRap is short for replicating rapid-prototyper; it employs a technique called ‘additive fabrication’. The machine works a bit like a printer, but, rather than squirting ink onto paper, it puts down thin layers of molten plastic which solidify. These layers are built up to make useful 3D objects.

Dr Andrew Dent from the University of Bath’s RepRap Project team, said: “As most of the parts of RepRap are made from plastic, the machine is able to print copies of itself. Therefore it can be replicated for free and shared between companies. This makes using RepRap so much cheaper than traditional industrial 3D printing.”

RepRap was conceived by Dr Adrian Bowyer at the University of Bath in 2004. It is a low cost open source rapid prototyping system. A RepRap printer is also capable of manufacturing a vast range of 3D plastic objects from computer designs. To date there are over 6,000 RepRap machines in use world-wide by both individuals and companies.

Funded by the University’s KTA account the Lab will also showcase RepRap technology to increase awareness of its potential benefits for businesses. “RepRap is a different, revolutionary way of approaching invention. It could allow people to change the ergonomics of a design to their own specific needs,” said Sir James Dyson.

You can book a free of charge introductory briefing to the Digital Manufacturing Lab

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