Swansea University plans to expand its childrens 3D printing project across the world

The Factory of the Future project, led by Swansea University, introducing children to ‘smart manufacturing’ will be rolled out to schools across the world if it wins its bid for a grant worth over £1.2 million.

“It’s vitally important to introduce our schoolchildren to smart manufacturing underpinning technologies like 3D printing from a young age because this will help equip them with the skills they’ll need to access the high-paid jobs this sector will create in coming years,” said Dr Dimitris Pletsas, of Swansea University’s College of Engineering.

Adding, “The Factory of the Future project will see engineering experts at the university working alongside regional manufacturers to introduce smart manufacturing like 3D printing, artificial intelligence and robotics.”

Schoolchildren in Ireland, Germany, Slovenia, Poland and Portugal are among those who could benefit if the bid is successful. Image via Swansea University

A 3D printed race to the finish

As part of the project, one of 11 across Wales, school children will be 3D printing and assembling battery controlled toy cars ahead of a race that will take place at Carmarthen Park’s velodrome in July. led by Ysgol Gynradd Nantgaredig primary school in Carmarthenshire, Wales, the project currently includes eight county primary schools who have been loaned 3D printers by Swansea University. Several local car dealerships and race event sponsors are also involved.

Each 3D printed car is based on a Daniel Norée design, who has experience designing and building 3D printed miniature F1 R/C cars. Following the race, participating schoolchildren will be asked to 3D print local landmarks.

Daniel Norée focuses on simplicity, making his F1 cars very easy to print. Image via Daniel Norée

A big boost for 3D printing education

Talking about the race Pletsas said, “The 3D printed, battery controlled toy car race is already inspiring hundreds of schoolchildren in Carmarthenshire. Now – subject to the approval of our major grant application – a project born in South West Wales could soon form part of education across Europe.”

Pletsas added “This will help equip our manufacturing sector for the fourth industrial revolution by providing smart manufacturing solutions that will boost productivity and protect jobs.”

Funding Welsh innovation

In order to bring the entire Factory of the Future project to 60 international schools, they will need to win their Horizon 2020 consortium bid, under the Science for Society work programme. The project is also set to be part-funded by the a £1.3 billion fund from private and public sectors in the UK named the City Deal.

Swansea University has already used money from the City Deal to develop alternative elements of its 3D printing portfolio. This includes the creation of a smart bandage – a fabric laced with minute particles of electro-conductive ink that will provide real-time reports of how an open wound, from injuries such as burns, are healing.

Due to be funded by the UK and Welsh Governments, the public sector and the private sector, the City Deal is being led by the four regional local authorities, the two regional health boards, Swansea University and the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

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