PrintCity Manchester – Innovate, educate, collaborate.
PrintCity, it’s all in the name. Manchester has a long legacy of being a place where innovation happens. The textiles industry boomed in the industrial revolution putting Manchester on the map as the global epicentre of the cotton trade. John Dalton developed his atomic theory in the city which later led to Rutherford splitting the atom at the University of Manchester in 1919. This was then followed by the birth of the modern computer in 1948, again in Manchester. Now the city is firmly back on the map for being the birth of PrintCity. This time it’s the cities other main university, Manchester Metropolitan that is stealing the limelight.
PrintCity is a facility based at The John Dalton building in Manchester Metropolitan University and is essentially a mini city of 3D printers. Within PrintCity you will find a whole array of 3D printers (33 to be exact), from small desktop consumer models such as Ultimakers and Makerbots to more advanced industrial printers such as Stratasys Multijets and Z corps.
The facilities on display were truly unique. Never before have I seen such a wide range of printers in one room. It can be described as a true fabrication lab, from entry level FFF machines to machines that cost over £100K, printcity Manchester can literally 3D print anything. As part of the future plans there is already a PrintCity 2 in Cheshire with more locations pencilled in for the future. What we could see in the UK is an unrivalled network of 3D printing facilities up and down the country that will fuel the demand for future jobs.
Speaking to the in-house university lecturers, (who are experts in their field) explain how the facilities will allow students at the university, from all disciplines to access 3D printers as part of their studies. To outsource students designs to commercial print bureaus would be a major barrier to university students, so having the facility on demand and in house is a major advantage.
PrintCity aims to educate
The facility will mainly be used for the new Master’s qualification in Industrial Digitisation (MSc) aimed to educate and develop graduates for a career in additive manufacturing. The course is run by Craig Banks who is the academic lead for PrintCity Manchester ,who explains how the facility is ‘not just a print shop, but a digital training centre for graduates. One where they can be taught CAD and digital workflow to enable them to get their designs 3D printed as rapidly as possible.’
We had the privilege to visit PrintCity this week and were highly impressed by what we experienced. They plan to open the facility to schools and education in Greater Manchester so as many local students as possible can access the facilities. In the past few weeks they have already had a number of schools visit. This is vitally important to bridge the gap between high school students and universities, as many students will never get the chance to visit a university in the lifetime unless more opportunities like PrintCity emerge.
They are also closely aligned to Autodesk and as part of the Master qualifications as all students will be Autodesk Fusion 360 certified. This ties in with the national campaign by STEM learning to accredit teachers on the software and also ties in with our lessons that are based around fusion 360.
PrintCity are also working very closely with GoPrint3D and Kevin Askew, who have provided many of the 3D printers to the facility and helped with the initial launch. GoPrint3D are also one of our dedicated re-sellers of learnbylayers
As part of the visit I had the privilege to take part in their series of podcasts where we got to discuss all things 3D printed and how learnbylayers has expanded to 9 countries, with over 22 schools and 13,000 students being taught the curriculum. Also discussed was the general outlook on 3D printing education in general and how it is making it’s way into classrooms up and down the country. To listen to the Podcast search for PrintCity podcast on itunes, it’s free to listen to.
To finalise this blog I was very impressed with what was on display at PrintCity Manchester and it is clear they have assembled the right team to keep Manchester at the forefront of innovation. To find out more about their masters course and PrintCity in general click here.
By Philip Cotton learnbylayers founder.