The launch of the Shed at Digital Innovation.
A few months back TCT popped along to Manchester Metropolitan University for a lively panel discussion about the future of 3D printing. The conversation came from artists, engineers and lecturers who have all incorporated additive manufacturing into their work in some way. Fast forward to last week and an equally diverse group of individuals crammed into what is set to be the region’s premier digital hub for the launch of MMU Digital Innovation’s “the Shed”. TCT stopped by to get a first look.
As the event opened, Professor of Digital Enterprise at MMU, Alex Connock revealed there are “56,000 jobs in the digital sector in Greater Manchester.” It sounds like a huge figure but when you consider the speed at which businesses are evolving and incorporating new technologies, it’s not surprising that “digital” is now being added to an increasing number of job titles.
The Shed is a place that brings together students, startups, researchers and businesses from across Manchester’s technology sector. It’s an open space, the kind you would imagine all the best startups come out of with bare walls, plug sockets cascading from the ceiling, a two tier gallery space and perhaps most exciting, its own 3D printing service.
Hobs 3D printing bureau at MMU.
Hobs Reprographics are behind the newly opened 3D print bureau at MMU. With over 45 years printing experience, the technology leaders have set up camp inside the Manchester hub with a 3D printing workshop that is open to students and lecturers across the campus.
Working closely with students from the school of architecture, a range of prototypes were on display throughout the studio that demonstrate what the students have been coming up with thanks to this new valuable tool. Intricately detailed landscape models and organic structures, synonymous with 3D printing showed how the technology is shaping the way students think about what it is now possible to make.
Speaking with Edmund Keefe, 3D print studio manager at Hobs, he explained that the service has enabled groups as large as an entire class to work to tight deadlines by sending files for printing and have them back within a matter of days. That’s a real game changer for students working on projects that require concept models with a rapid turn around time without being priced out by expensive production costs.
3D print sample models.
The studio houses two large-scale 3D Systems full colour Projet 660 Pro machines and four Cube Pro 3D printers. The team work with Magics software from Materialise to help students unfamiliar with working in 3D to realise their designs for printing.
In operation since November, the reach looks set to grow much further than the architecture department if last year’s 3D printing event is anything to go by. With examples from the fashion, medical and art subject areas highlighting the capabilities of the technology, the team hopes to work in collaboration with students across the university as awareness continues to grow.
MMU is no stranger to 3D printing but this dedicated space catapults the university to the forefront of the digital sector. The expertise and availability of these machines as part of the university’s Digital Innovation project means that students are graduating equipped with valuable skills for both the current and future jobs market. If there are indeed “56,000” jobs to fill, those skills have never been more vital.
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Hobs 3D printing bureau at MMU Digital Innovation.
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3D Systems Projet 660 Pro machines
The studio houses two full colour 3D systems machines for large build, high resolution 3D printing in architectural modelling.
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3D Systems CubePro machines
The bureau uses four 3D Systems Cube Pro machines for smaller prototyping in up to three colours.
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Materialise Magics software
The bureau can produce 3D models using Magics software from Materialise which is also used to train students up for designing files for 3D printing.