In an attempt to promote 3D printing and additive manufacturing across Canada, rapid prototyping and environmental testing firm Hyphen, a division of Christie Digital Systems Canada Inc., has partnered with the University of Guelph. Hyphen will now have access to the Canadian university’s Digital Haptic Lab (DHL), geared towards the design and prototyping of haptic devices, and, in exchange, the school’s researchers and students will be able to use Hyphen’s 3D printing technology and expertise at a reduced cost.
At the same time that the new partnership allows Guelph’s students and researchers to have access to Hyphen’s 3D printing and environmental testing for research purposes, it will also allow Hyphen to further entrench itself in Canada’s educational institutions, several of which it has already teamed up with. John Phillips, design engineer and manager of the DHL, explained the benefit that Hyphen brings the lab’s researchers, “The use of 3D printing is applicable across all of the research streams we work with at the university, including art, engineering, robotics, biology, horticulture, and aerospace. Typically, you use the tools you have at your disposal to find solutions to design problems. With our new partnership with Hyphen, we now have access to a greater set of tools so we will be able to offer a greater variety of solutions to our researchers. This will dramatically change the way we approach and tackle problems and opens up new possibilities for how we combine the use of 3D printing with haptic technology.”
In addition to access to DHL facilities, the company will establish an interactive product shelf at the entrance of the DHL, including a variety of 3D printed parts meant to advertise the company’s past projects and inspire students. Hyphen’s Managing Director, Mark Barfoot, sees these educational partnerships as a way to bring additive manufacturing to a wider audience, saying, “Advances in rapid prototyping and 3D printing are opening up new ways of thinking and doing things within the manufacturing industry worldwide. People are starting to see the significant benefits, including speed and efficiency, of taking a computer generated model and turning it into a physical object as part of the design and review process. This is a great way for Hyphen to educate others on the benefits of additive manufacturing, and to demonstrate the depth of Canadian knowledge and expertise within the additive manufacturing industry. We are excited to work with arts, science and engineering teams through this partnership and look forward to pushing the boundaries of rapid prototyping together.”
The university’s lab sees the company as a truly complementary partner, with the DHL’s lead researcher, Christian Giroux, explaining, “The DHL is predicated on collaboration and innovation – on top of Hyphen’s technical expertise, this is what stood out to us about them. Hyphen has an incredibly collaborative spirit and goodwill in sharing its resources with our lab. It’s a rare commodity among private sector companies. We’re very happy and excited about this partnership and what we’ll be able to achieve using Hyphen’s additive manufacturing processes to develop working prototypes and find solutions to our researchers’ design problems.”
The partnership is both an indication of Canada’s growing AM sector, as well as a continuation of the historical trend of private companies teaming with public universities to pursue high tech research that will, hopefully, provide some return to the public.