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State of the art 3D printer acquired

18 Jun 2019 10:00AM

The University has acquired a state-of-the-art 3D printer, thanks to a capital grant from Ipswich Borough Council (IBC).

The industrial standard printer will sit within the University’s 3D Productivity Suite in the IWIC (Ipswich Waterfront Innovation Centre).

Stefanie Thorne, Director of Business Engagement and Entrepreneurship at the University of Suffolk explains “The Suite, with high specification industrial 3D printers, will provide 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.  Businesses will be able to 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.”

An independent market demand study was commissioned by IWIC from Milner Strategic Marketing Ltd.  Based on primary and secondary research approaches, the study estimated the number of potential users of an enhanced industrial 3D printing facility based on the take up of similar offerings at other UK centres. The IWIC industrial printing capability is projected to benefit 29 Ipswich businesses in the first year rising to 43 per year by 2021.  Across Suffolk the projected number is 41 per year (including Ipswich) rising to over 60 by 2021.  In addition, IWIC has already received enquiries from design led businesses further afield.

Tom Ranson, 3D Productivity and Digital Media Technologist at the University of Suffolk said, “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 would 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.”

Stefanie added, “We are inviting businesses to find out more about our 3D Productivity Suite by attending our launch event on 25 June at IWIC. This will be followed by a series of sector-specific breakfast briefings. We are expecting interest from many areas including medical, dental, engineering and architecture firms. The 3D Productivity Suite will also be used by our students and academics. We are very grateful to IBC in recognising the potential this resource can have, there isn’t anything quite like it in the region. As well as offering state-of-the-art facilities, we are allowing users access to the expertise of Tom Ranson and his team as well as our academics.”

Ipswich Borough Council Leader David Ellesmere said “Our decision to fund the 3D printer for the Ipswich Waterfront Innovation Centre is a strategic investment which will not only provide a unique service to a wide range of firms in the region it will also drive forward growth in the ITC and creative sectors. The Council is committed to supporting that growth and facilitating close links between the University and business.”

If you are interested in attending the launch of the 3D Productivity Suite at the University of Suffolk’s IWIC on Tuesday 25 June 2019, please register.

For more information about the 3D printing facilities at the University of Suffolk, please email


University of Suffolk Press Office
T: 01473 338476