David Willetts sees additive layer manufacturing in action on university visit

Minister of State for Universities and Science, David Willetts MP, visited the University of Exeter’s Streatham Campus on Monday 26 September 2011, at which he was briefed on the university’s £275 million campus developments and was given an overview of its world-class research and innovative collaborations with business and industry.

The Minister toured the new £2.6 million Centre for Additive Layer Manufacturing (CALM), opened ten days earlier, which is supported by EADS and part financed by the European Union. The university already had an established reputation for materials research and additive layer manufacturing, having previously worked with companies to develop products as diverse as medical implants, car parts and a museum clock.

The new facility houses additive layer manufacturing machines working in various powder materials, including the UK’s only EOSINT P 800. Built by the German firm, EOS, it can build parts at temperatures up to 385 degrees Centigrade, allowing it to produce parts from high-performance polymers. These materials, including EOS PEEK HP3, are mechanically strong and wear-resistant in the toughest of operating environments. Such polymers are being developed as alternatives to metals for applications in the aerospace, medical and motorsports sectors in particular.

Those producing prototypes and developing new products will benefit from CALM, which will enable businesses, entrepreneurs and researchers to harness the potential of additive layer manufacturing. Businesses will also benefit from the technical expertise of staff at the centre, gained through their experience in industry and engineering research. Heavily subsidised rates are being offered to SMEs (small and medium enterprises) in Devon, Dorset, Wiltshire and Cornwall to give smaller businesses access to world-class facilities at affordable prices.

Council members of the University of Exeter and senior management also gave David Willets a glimpse of the Forum project, a new £48 million development for the heart of Streatham Campus. The Forum will feature an inspirational mix of outside and inside space that will deliver a new Student Services Centre, retail and catering outlets, a refurbished library, new technology-rich learning spaces, a 400-seat lecture theatre and a new university reception.

Businesses wanting to find out more about the CALM centre and how they can use its facilities can find out more at: www.exeter.ac.uk/calm

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