Launch of the Rapid Manufacturing Consortium

From: Prof. P. M. Dickens (
Date: Wed Jul 14 1999 - 08:43:34 EEST

I would like to thank everyone that attended the launch on Monday and
especially the consortium members and the companies that have supplied
hardware, software and materials to the venture.
For those interested in what we are doing please find details below.

De Montfort University

 Rapid Manufacturing Consortium

These notes describe the formation of a consortium of major European
companies. This consortium will direct the teaching and research into Rapid
Product Development and Manufacturing. A major activity will be training of
engineers from the consortium members and technology transfer. A wide range
of equipment and software will be installed to support the activities.

One of the key industrial drivers of the nineties is the ability to develop
new products in ever-shorter periods. The much wider use of Computer Aided
Design (CAD) and the introduction in 1988 of a technology known as Rapid
Prototyping have helped this. It is now possible to design and manufacture
objects within a few hours. However, these technologies are very expensive
with some Rapid Prototyping machines costing £750,000. This means that few
companies have invested in this technology but are very interested in
investigating their use.
Professor Dickens has been one of Europe's leading researchers into Rapid
Prototyping and has built up a good relationship with industry. A consortium
of major European companies has now been established to support and direct
the activities in this area for teaching, training and research.

The consortium will bring together a group of large companies that will
support the Research and Teaching at De Montfort University. The scope of
the consortium is Rapid Product Development & Manufacturing which covers all
aspects from initial concept, through product development and into
Various companies have formed the basic group:
ABB Alstom Power (B) - Multinational manufacturer of power generation
Caradon plc (UK) - Major supplier of bathroom & plumbing equipment with
20,000 employees
DaimlerChrysler (DE) - Multinational manufacturing a wide variety of
products with 422,000 employees
Ericsson (SE) - Multinational manufacturer of mobile communication systems.
Flymo (UK) - Part of the Electrolux group manufacturing garden care
Lotus (UK) - Sports car manufacturer and Engineering consultants
Martin-Baker Aircraft Co. Ltd. (UK) - Worlds main manufacturer of ejector
seats with 780 employees.
Perkins Engines Ltd (UK) - Parts of the Caterpillar group making diesel
Siemens (DE) - Multinational manufacturing a wide variety of products with
416,000 employees
TWR (UK) - Automotive design consultancy with manufacturing facilities run
for Volvo and GM
Volvo Cars (SE)- Manufacturer of Cars
The consortium is a long term commitment between industry and De Montfort
University and the members will direct the research & teaching to overcome
the shortage of skills required for Rapid Product Development &
Manufacturing. The consortium will also disseminate knowledge to a wider
audience including their suppliers and customers.

The subject of Rapid Product Development is at the forefront of most
company's thoughts. There is considerable interest in techniques and
technologies that can help companies to introduce new products more quickly,
at lower cost and with greater flexibility.

Key Activities
There will be a range of Research and Teaching activities from small
technology transfer projects and seminars to European funded projects and
undergraduate/postgraduate courses. The members will also invite their
suppliers and customers to get involved:

Seminars - Each year a series of seminars will be held at the university but
there will also be others held at company premises.

Technology Transfer Projects - These will be small research projects with
the members but will also involve their suppliers and customers.

Masters Course in Rapid Product development - This will be aimed largely at
engineers within the consortium companies, their suppliers and customers,
and will be run on an IGDS basis with intensive one-week courses to suit
part time people and engineers travelling from other countries. It is likely
that most people will only take one or two modules as Continuing
Professional Development.

PhD Students - Will be sponsored by consortium companies and undertake their
research within their own company or in the university or a mixture of the

Staffing - The immediate staff to be employed will be a manager - Dr.
Richard Hague, tooling engineer and a secretary. Soon after the launch a
Principal Lecturer will be required to plan and launch the Masters course.
Two lecturers will also be employed for delivery of modules and to undertake

Facilities - A range of hardware and software is being installed to support
the activities of the consortium. The items that have been arranged so far
3D Systems Inc.- Stereolithography machine - SLA7000
3D Systems Inc. - Thermojet machine
Ciba - Resin for the Stereolithography machine
Ciba - Materials for prototyping
Stratasys - Fused Deposition Modelling machine - FDM 2000
EOS - Metal Sintering machine EOSINT MExtended
Agie CNC Spark Erosion Machine
Unigraphics - CAD/CAM software (40 seats)
Delcam - Powermill software (40 seats)
Materialise software (40 seats)

Negotiations are still continuing with other companies for other hardware
and software.

Prof. P. M. Dickens
Dept. of Mech. & Manuf. Eng.
De Montfort University
The Gateway
England LE1 9BH

Tel: +44 (0)116 257 7689
Fax: +44 (0)116 257 7025
Mobile: +44 (0)468 827039

For more information about the rp-ml, see

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