BUSINESS

Laser Prototypes commits to vital additive manufacturing research

3D printing service bureau Laser Prototypes Europe (LPE) has committed to assisting the 'North West Centre for Advanced Manufacturing' research programme

Leading Belfast based 3D printing service bureau Laser Prototypes Europe (LPE) has committed to assisting the ‘North West Centre for Advanced Manufacturing’ research programme. The programme, which was launched by Catalyst Inc, will receive €8.5million of funding from the EU’s INTERREG VA Programme and will include a focus on additive manufacturing.

Speaking of this vital research programme, Managing Director of LPE, Tom Walls, said: “Working closely with Ulster University, we have helped identify four research projects that address some of the technological barriers that will need to be overcome to enable metal sintering technology to be more quickly adopted by the Health & Life Science industries now and in the future. We are delighted to lend our support to this exciting project which will fund four PhD students and four post-doctoral research assistants in the field of additive manufacturing.

“Research in this field has received worldwide attention in recent years due to increased interest in the capabilities and benefits of additive manufacturing technologies from both the public and the government. As an expert in these technologies, LPE is committed to helping ensure that Northern Ireland continues to be a global leader in this innovative field of research.”

Professor Eileen Harkin-Jones, Ulster University, said: “It is vital that universities and industry work together for a wider economic benefit. We have previously worked with LPE on a number of research projects and are delighted that they have lent their support to the INTERREG programme, a programme which we believe will facilitate some of the most exciting and advanced research currently being undertaken globally in advanced technology solutions.”

LPE has also recently lent its support to the new Science Foundation Ireland Confirm Centre based at the University of Limerick. The Confirm Centre, part of a €74 million investment in new research centres by the Irish Government, aims to transform Ireland’s manufacturing industry to become a world leader in smart manufacturing. It is expected that the centre will undertake a number of research projects in the areas of advanced manufacturing.

It is extremely important that SMEs, such as LPE, continue to invest in research into additive manufacturing techniques so that industry can reap the full benefits that these emerging technologies offer. Tom explains: “As an SME, there is a tendency to be a market driven rather than a research driven organisation however that is very difficult when you are operating in a sector that still requires more research to be carried out before its technologies are fully accepted by industry. The latest additive manufacturing technologies have the potential to revolutionise manufacturing but further work is needed to standardise the processes in order to give industry the confidence needed to fully adopt it into their design process. We see being involved in research with academia as critical both to the future of our industry and also to our success as an innovative company operating on the leading edge of additive manufacturing technology. It is fantastic to see these initiatives supported by the government and the EU, as this type of research is vital to the growth of additive manufacturing within the UK and Ireland.”

LPE has offered specialist 3D printing, rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing services for over 25 years at its custom built premises in Belfast. They offer a range of manufacturing and finishing services to customers in automotive, motorsport, medical, TV and film, defence, and electronics industries.

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