The county of Derbyshire is renowned worldwide as a centre of manufacturing excellence, with a high proportion of its workforce employed in advanced technology industries.
That’s why it made perfect sense for the University of Derby to seek the very best solution when it came to its own additive manufacturing – or 3D printing – needs, giving the designers and engineers of tomorrow the perfect tools with which to hone their skills.
To do so the university’s Institute of Innovation turned to SYS Systems, the UK’s Stratasys platinum partner, which sells, install and supports the full range of Stratasys 3D printing systems to organisations across a multitude of sectors.
The experts at SYS, based just up the road in Foston, were able to recommend the Objet500 Connex3, which has the ability to incorporate dozens of colours into one detailed prototype, building anything from vivid opaque to stained glass-like translucent models.
The Objet500 Connex3’s ability to print in 16-micron (0.0006-inch) layers provides unrivalled design freedom and creates 3D models with unmatched accuracy and surface quality.
Combined with its multi-material and varied shore grade capabilities in a single build, prototypes produced by the Connex3 and its triple-jetting technology get as close to the final product as it’s possible to be.
The Connex3, based at the university’s Chesterfield Campus, complements three other 3D printing machines (the Objet30, Objet30 Prime and F370) at the main site and is already making a real difference – but it’s not just the students who are benefiting.
The Institute offers knowledge, funding, expertise and technology to help businesses research and develop products and processes, driving innovation in the region.
Dr Gavin Williams, Senior Researcher in Additive Manufacturing at the University of Derby, said: “What was missing from the university’s capabilities was higher-resolution parts, which the Connex machine is able to offer, while its size means you can make larger parts, or more parts at the same time.
“The multi-material capabilities allow us to create prototypes that can mimic different types of polymers that the final part might need in terms of flexibility, rubberised overmoulds, different colours and textures.
“The real benefit is the high quality of the parts these machines can produce. It’s all about creating a prototype that’s very realistic to the end product.”
The addition of the Objet500 Connex3 also made perfect business sense, with SYS offering complete peace of mind.
Dr Williams added: “The range of machines we’ve invested in represent good value for money. We can create prototypes without any tooling in a very short space of time.
“The university has had Stratasys machines from SYS Systems for quite a number of years and our relationship has been a very successful one.
“What SYS provides is a very honest opinion about the machines they can offer, what they can do and what you may need to use it for. Because of this we were very confident in the machine we were buying.
“Installation, servicing and after-sales support has been an important factor, because although these types of machines are reliable and repeatable there are always occasions when we need back-up and more expertise. The response from SYS has always been very quick and reliable.
“We’re now much more confident about engaging with companies knowing that we can generate the designs, prototypes and parts they’re after.”