Companies in the region can take advantage of a €90k investment in advanced 3D printing facilities which has been made by IT Sligo as part of the CREST project.
Complementing existing equipment in its prototyping laboratory, the new printer can generate high quality 3D models of products and components in a range of plastic materials. The equipment is available for use by SMEs who seek support from IT Sligo or other CREST partners through the CREST project.
CREST, the Centre for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technologies, is a €3.5m EU funded cross-border project aiming to help companies in the region to develop or adopt new renewable energy and sustainable technologies through the provision of targeted support and facilities.
Through CREST, IT Sligo has linked up with South West College in Northern Ireland, Cavan Innovation and Technology Centre and Dumfries and Galloway College, on the west coast of Scotland, to provide the service.
Mel Gavin, CREST R&D coordinator at IT Sligo, said: “The 3D printers allow us to help inventors, designers and entrepreneurs create prototype components for testing, verification and demonstration. The speed of printing means that components can be made, tested and redesigned if necessary with greater efficiency than traditional prototype manufacturing.”
He added: “What we’re aiming for is to help the inventors to get their prototype fully designed for production. We’ve already supported a number of local companies to develop products which are heading for the market. It’s been very encouraging to see the level of innovation in companies and inventors in the region, and we want to help keep this going.”
3D printing is just one of the services being provided by CREST, usually at no charge to companies. Among the four partner institutes and colleges a wide range of research, development and testing facilities are also being provided. These are available to SMEs in the border counties, Northern Ireland and parts of Western Scotland. The flagship CREST facility, the £1.2m CREST Pavilion, is currently under construction at South West College in Enniskillen, providing demonstration and testing facilities for state of the art sustainable technologies.
Although knowledge-transfer between industry and colleges is relatively common, CREST is targeted mainly at SMEs who are new to the idea, particularly those lacking the resources for exploring the feasibility of a new concept, product or process.
Mel said: “It is a common problem for potentially entrepreneurial businesses that they haven’t the time, specialist knowledge or facilities to develop their ideas and bring them to market. CREST is helping to address this issue and is benefitting the local economy.”
Anyone interested in using IT Sligo’s 3D printing facilities or availing of other CREST support should contact Mel Gavin, tel no 00 353 (0)71 9305825 or email email@example.com
CREST is supported by the INTERREG IVA Programme, managed by the Special European Union Projects Board (SEUPB), with match funding provided by Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment and Department of Jobs Enterprise and Innovation in Ireland.