The CREATE Education Hubs often work with the local community, using their 3D printing capability and capacity for outreach and partnership work. In this blog, Dave Evans, Engineering Lecturer at the CEMAST Hub (Centre of Excellence in Engineering, Manufacturing and Advanced Skills Training) at Fareham College shares how students worked to provide a solution for a local industry partner.

The enterprise zone here on the CEMAST site has a large Innovation centre which is a council backed initiative that allows start-up businesses a leg up through reduced costs, rent etc. They must be however, computing or technology based industries in order to qualify.

Russ from Eurosoft Systems Ltd has had a tour of CEMAST and was aware of our resources, capabilities and close ties with many local industries. With this in mind Russ approached the college with a view to collaborating on some of the work he does allowing some of our students to work directly with and for industry.

This meant tight deadlines, direct liaison with ESL (over the road here) and developing the product quickly for a trade show in Singapore and eventually/ultimately ready for market.

The CAD design element was undertaken under strict instructions from Russ regarding the product specification with sample circuit boards available to test the fit and performance. Russ then needed to be somewhere else in the country whilst Nathan (the selected student, with some support from myself) got on with initial designs on our Solidworks CAD system.

The designed product would be too difficult and time consuming to manufacture in our work shop on traditional machinery. Our CNC capability here is not complex enough and I doubt that it would have been efficient even if we had the much longed for 5 axes capability.

The 3D printers were the clear choice. Our Ultimaker 2s’ for the more traditional printed parts and the employing the Ultimaker 3s’ for more complex designs would be ideal. We tend to use the 2s’ for our own R+D before using the 3s’ (which produce a much better quality print).

The designs could quickly be turned into reality and with the twin filament extrusion the horizontal surfaces would present little problem!

There were a few initial problems that only became apparent once we had tested a physical model however. Several small changes saw good progress to the CAD model, Russ was consulted and the 3D printers were back in action to complete the ever evolving design, all part of the R+D process.

The finished and approved articles were to be mass produced, probably by injection moulding which is a fast and efficient process but one with huge tooling costs and substantial lead times. That time wasn’t available and the product needed to be at a trade show. In Singapore. In three weeks. With the design and all the R+D to do.  Response and speed of manufacture were critical and the Ultimakers’ proved winners.

They allowed us to liaise, via skype, with Russ to ensure he was happy with the initial concept model and then again regarding the product’s evolution during the day/working hours while the 4 printers all chugged away all night producing the design changes for fresh evaluation on the following morning. This meant we could narrow down the ’issues’ in the space of a week, on all individual components, to meet the deadline and present the finished articles at the international (Singapore) trade show.

Our collaboration and hard work secured orders for Russ’s company, allowing him to outperform the competing companies from Malaysia and China who traditionally do well in those markets.

Clearly Russ’ business acumen and concept ideas were very good but without our engineering brains at CEMAST and our trusty Ultimakers’ it just would not have happened.

The CREATE Education Project would like to thank Dave Evans at CEMAST for sharing this blog with us. Showing how education can work with industry partners to get results and equip students with experience and the skills required to work in industry.

In The Classroom

Why not partner up with a local engineering company to develop a design brief for students based on solving a real industry problem. This adds realism to the students work and a live customer to help test and evaluate potential design solutions.

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