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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.