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Artisan maker embraces 3D printing with business support

Darwen Terracotta web

Blackburn-based manufacturer Darwen Terracotta has enhanced their capabilities with the addition of 3D printing and scanning following support from UCLan’s DigitMe2 programme.

Darwen Terracotta takes pride in mixing traditional artisan skills combine with 21st century manufacturing, to create bespoke terracotta products for the construction industry.

The façade of many traditional buildings dating from the middle 19th century onwards, are constructed using architectural terracotta and faŃ—ence coatings to provide embellishments to the design of the building. Standout UK examples include the Natural History Museum and the Royal Albert Hall in London, although work is carried out across the globe.

DigitMe2 is a project delivered by UCLan and funded by the European Regional Development Fund. Working from the state of the art Advanced Manufacturing Technology Centre in Burnley, the heart of Lancashire’s manufacturing, 5 full time engineers assist businesses in testing and adopting technologies such as data analytics, robotics, additive manufacturing and automation systems. The aim of the programme is to provide support to manufacturers and help them become ‘future ready’ by engaging with digital technologies.

The support delivered

The DigitME2 project together with support from Lancashire based SME, 3DGBIRE, researched 3D scanning methods. The use of portable scanners on the surviving building features allow the company to recreate exact copies without the need to remove the feature from the building, resulting in an instant reduction in third party workmanship and transportation costs, enabling the company to reduce both production, time and their carbon footprint.

Using 3D CAD skills, Darwen Terracotta have also invested in 3D printing technologies to produce the mould masters. The use of this unmanned technology, allows overnight production of masters for smaller scale elements, reducing production bottlenecks and overall manufacturing time. In addition, the use of 3D printed parts to produce the masters, enables reuse of the part, allowing many moulds to be made from a single master.

Commenting on the support received, Steve Allen, Managing Director at Darwen Terracotta said:

“Working with UCLan has proved invaluable for our business! The DigitME2 team provide a service that takes the time to understand our operation and then apply the knowledge they possess to seek out new technology and innovations that will aid our manufacturing operation. The scanning and printing processes are something we can now take forward into the production environment to both compliment the skills of our workforce and reduce costs.”

For more information on DigitMe2, contact Boost, visit the website at https://digitme.co.uk/ or get in touch with the DigitMe2 team direct on 01772 896092 / digitmeproject@uclan.ac.uk.

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