Manufacturers see the future in 3D

Craig Vickers, ARRK’s Head of Prototyping and 3D Printing Operations in Europe
Business & Innovation Magazine Manufacturing Live at ARRK Europe Ltd – 13.11.2018Picture by Carl Hewlett/Stand Out Studio 2018 © Stand Out Studio Ltd

More than 50 engineers, production managers and business owners joined forces for the second Manufacturing Live

Hosted by ARRK Europe in Gloucester, Manufacturing Live gave directors, senior engineers and production managers the opportunity to tour the company’s European prototype facility and share best practice.

Manufacturing Live events are devised and hosted by Business & Innovation Magazine and supported by national accountancy firm Crowe UK and BPE Solicitors, which has its headquarters in Cheltenham.

ARRK is a global conceptual design and manufacturing specialist and one of the largest prototype manufacturers in the world.

The Japanese company, which is split into four divisions (engineering, prototyping, tooling and low volume production), annually turns over 418 million Euros in Europe and its prototyping centre, which employs more than 100 people, is based in Quedgeley, Gloucester.

Here, the company produces prototypes for a wide range of clients and industry sectors.

Keynote speakers at the event were Craig Vickers, ARRK’s Head of Prototyping and 3D Printing Operations in Europe and Professor Jeremy Miller, Research and Solutions Development Manager at Spirax Sarco.

Investment in 3D printing drives growth

Over the last two decades, ARRK has invested significantly in its 3D printing and prototyping capability “Companies use prototyping to verify form, fit and function or to validate 3D data,” said Craig as he outlined the extensive capability his technical teams have in this area.

However, Craig encourages customers to think more about how a product will be made before coming up with its design.

He said: “3D printing is changing how products are manufactured. Fewer tools or tooling aids are needed as they have been replaced by digital files which will generate 3D printed items.”

In any six-month period, ARRK provides prototypes for more than 2,000 customers, from European multinational manufacturers to individual designers with a revolutionary idea. “It’s all about speed in our industry,” said Craig. “We can build a prototype in days, rather than weeks – and sometimes we can do it in a day.”

Design rights offer some protection

Riyaz Jariwalla is Partner at BPE solicitors, and specialises in intellectual property. He outlined key issues manufacturers should consider to help protect their designs.

While the benefits of registering intellectual property (IP) are widely acknowledged, Riyaz highlighted the lesser-known concept of design rights and the importance of regular intellectual property audits.

Under UK law design rights protect a design for 10 years after it is first sold or 15 years after it is recorded in a design document or create — whichever is earliest. He added: “It affords the owner the exclusive right to reproduce the design for commercial reasons.”

Design rights apply to the shape and configuration of the whole or part of an original article. To claim design rights, the creator will need proof of when it was created. This could be getting signed and dated copies of the design drawings or photos certified and kept by a solicitor or intellectual property attorney.

Invention and innovation drives business opportunities

Manufacturing Live’s second keynote speaker, Professor Jeremy Miller, began his career as an engineering apprentice at Rolls Royce Aero Engine Division. In a career spanning 40 years, Jeremy has successfully translated R&D into many commercial applications.

He currently has more than 45 patents and is a Professor of Energy Futures at Brunel University and Fellow of the Institute of Engineering Technology and Institute of Refrigeration.

Jeremy presented his approach to research at Spirax Sarco, a global leader in the design and manufacture of industrial and commercial steam systems, which has its headquarters in Cheltenham.

“We split our research into four segments: explore, scope, demonstrate, deliver. We encourage our teams to develop new products to serve our markets and innovate existing products, always with clear foundation and direction as to what the market needs and our customers are asking for. We then test and demonstrate, and deliver as soon as commercially possible. Everything we invent or develop must create value for the customer and for Spirax Sarco.”

Collaboration for commercial benefit

Manufacturing Live guests toured ARRK Europe’s site. Due to the confidential nature of much of its prototyping work, cameras were not allowed into the facility.

Lunch and networking wrapped up the event.

Chris Mould, Partner at Crowe, said: “We are really proud to sponsor Manufacturing Live.

“Manufacturing has been the background to my life. It was motivating to see so many local manufacturing businesses discussing the challenges and opportunities for collaboration at a forum just for them.

“ARRK Europe were inspiring hosts and it was great to hear Professor Miller highlighting innovation and not being afraid to fail, and good to hear his emphasis on taking risks and being bold. That is what these events are for: to inspire and facilitate collaboration. This event worked particularly well. Bring on the next one.”