Aston University: Aston University 3D printing facility shortlisted for Tech Innovation Champion award

Aston University’s Advanced Prototyping Facility has been shortlisted for the Tech Innovation Champion award in the prestigious Innovation Awards 2022.

The Innovation Awards recognise, celebrate and reward the businesses, organisations and individuals who are dedicated to innovation.

It is one of two Aston University projects to be nominated this year, joining other finalist Think Beyond Data in the Tech Innovation Champion award category.

The Advanced Prototyping Facility project encourages and supports small businesses in the West Midlands to use 3D printing, which is also called additive manufacturing. On a large scale the technique 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.

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

Aston 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: “The technique is seen as the latest technological revolution in manufacturing and many small to medium enterprises have thought about using 3D printing but they don’t know where to start.

“We set up the Advanced Prototyping Facility 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 only five finalists shortlisted from hundreds of nominations from Technology Supply Chain members.

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 Millennium Point in Birmingham on Thursday 15 September, the keynote speaker is Paul Scully MP, Minister for Small Business.