Small and medium-sized businesses can now get access to world-class CAD CAM (computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacture) tools and rapid prototyping through 3D printing at Wiltshire College’s new enterprise centre.
Housed at Wiltshire College’s Lackham campus near Chippenham, the centre is aimed at boosting product design in businesses by fast-tracking product development and bringing innovative product concepts to market.
The 3D Enterprise Centre has been set up with industry partners including NT CADCAM, distributors of the market leading SolidWorks CAD package, with funding from Wiltshire Council via The Enterprise Network as part of a £1m investment to help business centres develop their own facilities for start-up rural businesses.
It has a business lounge that will be available for members to drop in for informal meetings and the full conference facilities in Lackham House will also be available.
In welcoming business representatives, Wiltshire Council officers, and Michelle Donelan, Conservative Prospective Member of Parliament for Chippenham to the opening ceremony, Wiltshire College acting principal Amanda Burnside said: “This is a clear example of how the college and commerce can work in partnership and successfully, for both students and business.
Mrs Burnside thanked the centre’s technical partners, including The Enterprise Network, NT CADCAM, SYS, 3D Connexion and Zenkia.
And among the businesses represented on the day were G Plan Upholstery of Melksham, Box-based Nyquist Solutions, Summit Chairs of Trowbridge, IXYS of Chippenham and PPM Ltd of Watchfield, as well as companies from Bristol, Bath and further afield in the south west.
The centre now boasts five complete commercial SolidWorks licences, bringing it on a par with some of the leading universities in the country, and Ian Weston, NT CADCAM’s UK sales manager for SolidWorks, said: “Any business can come here with an idea and utilising the technology here, can come away with a finished product.”
Haydn Earl, project manager for EIN-SW (Engineering Innovation Network-South West), based at Lackham House, added: “It is fantastic that we are pulling in the latest technology for business and student development. The more we can help develop business, the more we can provide for students in the future.”
And one student utilising the facility during the launch event was Paul Hailes, formerly of Trowbridge’s Clarendon Academy and now a Motorsport Engineering student at Wiltshire College.
Currently on a work experience placement at the Lackham campus, he said: “This technology really is amazing. It’s impressive and it makes the design side much easier and much quicker.”
The Enterprise Network is a £5.2m initiative led by Wiltshire Council with Government and EU funding, aimed at supporting new and growing small and micro businesses.
It has already opened four of its own enterprise centres in Wiltshire offering affordable offices, meeting rooms, co-working and networking opportunities alongside free, impartial, business advice.
Any businesses wanting further details on the new 3D Enterprise Centre can visit www.wilts3dcentre.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01249 466800 (ext 6753).