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3D Printing and Rapid Prototyping

The IWIC has introduced a state-of-the-art industrial 3D printer to its 3D Productivity Suite, thanks to a capital grant from Ipswich Borough Council.

The suite with high specification industrial 3D printers provides a location where firms involved in any form of product design, prototyping and manufacture will be able to explore the strategic relevance of 3D printing to their business. 

Firms will be able to engage with the upgraded IWIC facilities to explore in silico design and visualisation; produce initial models and “works-like” prototypes through to late stage “looks-like” prototypes and pre-manufacturing designs.  They can also access support and guidance to help them become more innovative and competitive through adopting the most appropriate variant of the wide array of 3D technologies available.”

Traditionally when prototyping, especially with injection moulding, it can take months to pull together moulds for test parts. They can also be very expensive, especially if testing reveals the part needs to be adjusted as the mould would need to be remade as well. With 3D printing that time can be reduced to just a few days. A single part can take a few hours to print. The types of plastics will also open up new avenues of prototyping for Suffolk. New to us are the flexible plastics, high temperature plastics and the medical grade plastics. Simply put, if your business produces a physical component then it’s likely we can help fine tune its design in a matter of weeks rather than months, and at a vastly reduced cost.

The 3D printer will be of benefit to research and innovation projects, local schools and colleges, local businesses, both small and large, and our own University students and staff. It will be also be a great facility for members of the Ipswich Waterfront Innovation Centre IWIC.

3D printer features

The Objet500 Connex3 brings agility and aesthetics to every stage of your product development and production. The Connex3 system was the first 3D printer in the world to simultaneously 3D print multiple colours and materials. It continues to lead the field with an even broader range of printing capabilities so you can create parts with the precision, look and feel of real production parts. Connex3 delivers incredible efficiency with the power to serve your diverse needs with one system.

Multiple materials can be loaded at one time in the Connex3, enabling you to print parts that require a range of mechanical, optical or thermal properties like non-slip grips, transparent windows or flexible hinges.

Fast, flexible colours can be printed directly from the colour information in your original CAD file. Produce smooth three-colour gradients, vivid multi-colour textures, sleek transparencies or milky opaque colours.

No assembly required for parts 3D printed with multiple materials, so you can create custom jigs, assembly fixtures and tools with ultra-fine accuracy and smooth surfaces.

The new Stratasys F123 Series is easy to operate and maintain, whatever your level of experience. It’s also proficient at every stage of prototyping, from concept to validation to functional performance.

The F370 supports a range of capabilities and budgets for every stage of prototyping. And today’s most common CAD file formats can be imported directly into GrabCAD.

Minimal setup – simply plug and play to give your entire office access to professional 3D printing.

Auto-calibration – spend less time troubleshooting and more time prototyping.

Fast and easy material swaps – maximise your design team’s productivity.

Industries Where 3D Printing and Rapid Prototyping Can Be Applied

Additive Manufacturing

3D printing is growing rapidly and has many applications across various industries and sectors:


A 3D printed object can make your design more tangible. A scale model of the final project can be a valuable way of communicating your design idea to colleagues and clients. A 3D-printed architectural model is perfect for pitching an innovation.

Medical and Healthcare Profession

Creating patient-specific organ replicas for surgeons to use to practice on before operations can help speed up procedures and reduce patient concerns.

Maritime Industry

Shrink the supply chain for complex parts, reduce manufacturing time and introduce new efficiencies with innovative design.

Product Design

Additive manufacturing enhances your freedom to design and enables a cost effective way to test our your ideas and innovations within a short timescale.

How It Will Benefit Primary & Secondary Schools

Hands on use of technologies has a wow factor for pupils supporting their creative abilities and digital skills, promoting active learning and provides career inspiration. 3D printing technology is interactive and produce practical results for pupils to engage with.

Rather than invest in 3D printers schools can access the facilities at the IWIC via school trips. Please email if you would like to explore further

What to expect from our 3D Printing and Rapid Prototyping facilities at the IWIC

The equipment is accessible to both educational and industrial organisations. In order to access the facility, please contact us via 

You can expect:

  • Professional support and advice for 3D design and rapid prototyping
  • A transparent booking and charging system
  • Updates about training and networking events
  • Confidentiality where IP is involved.

The 3D Productivity Suite is open 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday with the exception of two weeks of closure during the University’s Christmas holiday period.

News about the printing facilities and related events will be disseminated by the IWIC via the regular newsletter and on twitter @UOS-IWIC

Short Courses

A series of short courses are under development to be launched in September 2020. These will include an introduction to 3D printing for teachers to inspire young people, sessions for technicians, entrepreneurs and innovators.

Commercial Organisations

Charging for the 3D printer depends of a cost-plus overheads model depending on the amount of resource used. Any external work will have VAT charged on top for both materials and staff time.

University of Suffolk Staff and Students

3D printing is a process by which you can create a three-dimensional model based on a digital project file.

The 3D productivity suite is open to all staff and students to enhance their digital creativity skills, which are increasingly relevant across all disciplines.

Before using a 3D printer you will need to prepare your digital design using specialised software.


Our prices are subsidised for staff and students. However the costs vary widely and will be according to size and volume of the model. We will provide you quote after assessing the design and payment can be made via the online shop.


You can email us at with specific questions regarding the 3D printing facilities. If you wish to reference the facilities on any bids please do contact us for support.

Please note that the printers are in use by the external business community and projects need to be scheduled.


You can email us at with specific questions regarding the 3D printing process and materials suitable for your project. Discuss with us what materials you can print.

You need to have a CAD 3D model before you can print and for many projects, you can bring your own filament or use the recycling facilities to turn your plastics into filament.

Please note that the printers are in use by the external business community and projects need to be scheduled.

Find out more

Since graduating from the University of Kent in 2011 with a degree in Digital Film Production Tom has worked at University of Suffolk as a Technologist within the Department of Science and Technology. He is an Intel Education Ambassador, the only one in Higher Education in the whole of the United Kingdom. This involves encouraging the use of Technology and project based learning in Education and strengthening links between local schools and the University within STEM subjects.

To compliment this he is also a nationally recognised STEM Ambassador and mentor with STEMNET, this makes him available to schools to help encourage young people to become involved with STEM subjects and support teachers in the classroom by explaining current applications of STEM in industry or research. His previous roles at the University have seen him work on projects within Virtual Learning Environments, Virtual and Augmented Reality, Mobile App Development and Dementia and Palliative Care intervention strategies. His current role as a 3D Productivity and Digital Media Specialist has him overseeing the Universities new 3D Productivity Lab and is the first port of call for all staff, students and local businesses that want to learn more about 3D Printing and scanning.

Business subscription details are available on request. 

Complete our online form with your initial enquiry to find out more.

News and Events

Jasmin Taylor, GB Team Telemark Skier 

University of Suffolk student and GB Team Telemark Skier, Jasmin Taylor, has been working with the University’s 3D Productivity and Digital Media Technologist, Tom Ranson, on equipment to help her skiing performance.

Jasmin said, “I had some issues with my equipment this season that centred around the binding and the ski. Tom is working with me and my coach to build some plates, which will allow correct placement of the binding to the ski. It will mean I will have more trust in my equipment and trust is vital when you are competing. I am also working with Tom on some bespoke arm guards.”

“Basically the equipment is being tailored to my needs specifically, which is just not possible if you are using traditional manufacturing methods. The advantage of the 3D printer is that is can make something bespoke, a one-off or it can make 10,000 copies- whatever is needed.”

“The beauty of the 3D Suite being at the University is that I can go in there, have a conversation with Tom, and say this is what I need and discuss how to get around this. He is able to turn my vision into reality, he can instruct the printer to produce what is required.”

Jasmin has this message to businesses wanting to find out more “Come and see what it can do, take five minutes to talk to Tom and you will realise it is literally limitless. It is really interesting and I am not somebody who is in the manufacturing or engineering industry at all, but I absolutely see the benefit just in my very niche sport, and the impact it can have for me.”


Pricing is specific to individual projects – please complete the online form with your initial enquiry. All prices exclude VAT.