Aston University: Aston University 3D printing facility shortlisted for Midlands Women in Tech award

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Aston University’s Advanced Prototyping Facility has been shortlisted in the Best Use of Tech in a Public/Private Sector category in the Midlands Women in Tech Awards 2022.

The awards highlight and recognise the ongoing contribution of women in the technology sector.

The Advanced Prototyping Facility project encourages and supports small businesses in the West Midlands to use 3D printing, also called additive manufacturing. Although the project is new it has already provided significant support for local female innovators and business leaders such as Birmingham-based Inspire-a-Doll which produces diverse, multi-cultural dolls.

On a large scale 3D printing has been used within sectors as diverse as healthcare to print face shields, to aviation in producing aircraft components, to fashion to create trainer insoles. The process can make parts and products faster, cheaper, lighter and more sustainably.

The Advanced Prototyping Facility brings this technology, which is usually only affordable to large companies, to West Midlands small to medium enterprises (SMEs). They benefit from using 3D printing in product development where it can be used to create prototypes that reduce the risk of expensive tooling mistakes during the design process, as well as reducing the time to validate a design.

The University has been at the forefront of using 3D printing, especially with the early adopters of the technology in the medical sectors, for example in the orthopaedic field.

Professor David Webb, deputy director of the Aston Institute of Photonics Technologies (AIPT), leads the team.
He said: “3D printing is seen as the latest technological revolution in manufacturing.

“Many small to medium enterprises have thought about using 3D printing – but they don’t know where to start.
“The Advanced Prototyping Facility was established to address that problem and help local businesses find the right solutions for them.

“Our team of experts and academics are delighted to be shortlisted for this award, but most of all we’re delighted that we’ve been able to help improve designs and create designs for manufacture to the benefit of local businesses.”

The project is one of five finalists shortlisted. The project is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund programme and part-funded by Aston University.

The overall winner will be announced at a black-tie awards ceremony at Eastside Rooms in Birmingham on Tuesday 11 October. The keynote speaker will be Tracy Westall, non-executive member of the Department for Transport Board and chair of Curium Solutions.

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