University of Birmingham provides West Midlands-based SMEs with access to state-of-the-art manufacturing technology

The University is enabling local businesses to develop new products and processes by bringing the UK’s first Desktop Metal Shop System to the West Midlands through its Advanced Manufacturing Technologies to Create, Activate & Automate (AMTECAA) programme, part-funded by European Regional Development Fund.

The goal is that SMEs will be able to develop new products and processes, while improve existing ones, by deploying a range of state-of-the-art additive, subtractive and hybrid technologies. They will also be able to automate processes and operations by deploying robotics and other Industry 4.0 technologies to production lines.Researcher using equipment in the lab

The Desktop Metal Shop System is developed by Laser Lines, inventors of binder jetting, and uses a single-pass print engine. It is the highest-resolution single-pass binder jetting system on the market. Not only are metal parts created quickly, but the entire build volume is also available so that multiple parts can be printed simultaneously. This, along with the removal of tooling from the process, makes small and medium-sized jobs more cost-effective. 

Dr Khamis Essa, Director of the Advanced Manufacturing Group at the University of Birmingham and one of the academics collaborators working with the SMEs on the project, says: “The University has the first installation of this Desktop Metal machine in the UK. Since installation, we have been running demonstrator projects. The performance is incredible and the quality of the finished product is extremely high.”

Dr Milla Shah, Project Manager for AMTECCA, says: “We are thrilled that we will be able to help so many SME manufacturing businesses. We have a great team here at the university and we are proactively reaching out to businesses in the area that we think could benefit from this project. Any SME with a manufacturing need can get in contact.”

Paul Tickle, Laser Lines’ Metal Product Specialist, says: “After an extremely difficult year with the pandemic, it is great to see this initiative taking off and providing support to UK manufacturing. We are delighted to be a strategic partner, helping SMEs take the next steps in metal additive manufacturing. The Desktop Metal Shop system is incredibly fast, efficient and produces beautiful parts. We think it is a terrific initiative for businesses to explore how 3D printing can help in the future.”

The AMTECCA project, which will run until June 2023, will support SMEs in four Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas: Greater Birmingham & Solihull, Coventry & Warwickshire, Black Country and Stoke & Staffordshire. The project supports SMEs in the West Midlands region looking to apply advanced manufacturing technologies across a wide range of manufacturing sectors including automotive, aerospace, oil and gas, electronic and food & drink. It also has a dedicated resource focused on the particular requirements of the healthcare sector.

There are seven technology areas covered by AMTECAA:

  1. Metal additive manufacturing
  2. Subtractive manufacturing
  3. Hybrid manufacturing
  4. Laser processing
  5. Robotics and automation
  6. Plasma processing
  7. Healthcare technologies.

More information on the AMTECAA programme, please follow the link below:

University of Birmingham – AMTECAA

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