Model Engineers Talk 3D Digital Technology

A1 Technologies was invited to present at a meeting of the Bristol Society of Model and Experimental Engineers recently, demonstrating the need to introduce these technologies to new users and that allowing them to get their hands dirty is often the best way to get people excited.

Getting on the road, meeting people face to face and giving them the opportunity to see and experiment with equipment for themselves is central to A1 Technologies’ philosophy of democratizing 3D digital technology for everyone. Thus when the company was invited to present at a meeting of The Bristol Society of Model and Experimental Engineers (BSMEE), the A1 team headed along the M4. Essentially, the BSMEE exists to promote the development of the wider Model Engineering hobby, by providing support and encouragement to interested people to construct and operate models of an engineering nature. Members come from a range of trades, professions and backgrounds sometimes without formal engineering training but all have a keen interest in developing the skills to undertake Model Engineering activities.

To kick off the meeting, Martin Stevens, CEO at A1 Technologies, took a straw poll of the attendees to get an idea of how many were familiar with 3D digital technologies. About a third of the audience were or had been users of 3D CAD. Fewer still were acquainted with or were users of 3D printing and 3D scanning. Despite the simplicity of the poll, these statistics are reflected across many industries and professions involved with engineering disciplines time and time again. This alone highlights the need to take the message deeper and wider across every field of use. Getting back to the hobbyists, a discipline that is often overlooked, this meeting highlighted just how much this genre has to offer the engineering sector — and by making them aware of alternative processes for product development in the form of advanced, low-cost 3D technologies there is great potential for opening up new applications.

On a much more positive note, following a presentation that expounded the value of 3D digital technologies, the industry that has sprung up around them and how they can be applied, the audience members rolled up their sleeves to try out the full A1 Technologies product range for themselves. This resulted in many questions and lively debate across the rest of the evening, with on-site feedback that all of the products would be of great interest and very useful to members (and many other people like them) for their endeavours. Cementing this feedback was an invitation to demonstrate the technologies at a model making exhibition later in the year, with model making visitors expected to exceed 10,000. 

All in all, the BSMEE meeting threw up some interesting issues and, what really made the trip worthwhile — there are new converts to the benefits of 3D digital technology planted across Bristol.

The A1 Product Range

Over the last two years, A1 Technologies has brought together a range of ultra-low-cost, advanced 3D digital technology products. The company can now offer a remarkable and comprehensive suite of 3D technologies:

• StudioMill — a 5-axis CNC machine complete with software and a range of tools
• BfB 3000 — a pre-built 3D printer with 4 kg of print material and conversion software for the printer, which will also check and repair .stl files
• Chameleon — a creative haptically-enabled 3D design package
• DAVID laserscanner — a 3D laser scanner
• UNIMAT — an engineering kit that allow students to experience six different machines; including a jigsaw, lathe, mill, drill and sander.

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