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It’s 3D - but not as we know it

A collection of 3D physical objects

A collection of 3D physical objects

Press release issued: 5 November 2012

Turning virtual designs into 3D physical objects will soon become a reality for staff and students at the University of Bristol’s Merchant Venturers School of Engineering (MVSE) thanks to the donation of the latest in 3D technology by Bits from Bytes, a subsidiary of 3D Systems Ltd.

3D printing takes virtual designs from computer aided design (CAD) or animation modelling software and turns them into physical 3D objects, building them up layer by layer. It works like a computerised hot-glue gun which moves about putting down layers of molten plastic in precise locations.

The model that will be donated to the University is a 3DTouch, which works by building up layers of either PLA or ABS plastic. The 3D model is formed from the molten plastic using the data from a CAD drawing.

3D print technology is a rapidly developing technology and is now used extensively within manufacturing, engineering and academic research.  

The donation will enable the University, working with Bits from Bytes, to offer the latest educational 3D printing technology to students and staff in the MVSE.

Dr Neill Campbell, Head of the Merchant Venturers School of Engineering at the University of Bristol, said: “We are extremely grateful to Bits from Bytes for the donation of this latest 3D equipment.  The 3D printer is a valuable research tool and will help accelerate projects that would normally take time using conventional modelling methods. The technology will open up a whole new world of opportunity and will ensure staff and students continue to be at the forefront of teaching and research.”

Iain Major, IT and Operations Director of Bits from Bytes and a University alumnus, added: “We are delighted to be able to provide a launch pad for research at the University of Bristol. It will be fantastic to find out via our online forum what objects students are printing in MVSE.  Bristol has an outstanding reputation for producing engineers equipped for the future, now they will be able to get hands-on experience of this futuristic technology on a daily basis. We are firmly committed to supporting all sectors of education and to encourage users of our machines to push boundaries with novel applications of the technology.”

The official handover of the 3D equipment took place on Monday 5 November in the atrium of the Merchant Venturers School of Engineering, Woodland Road, Bristol.


Further information

About the Merchant Venturers School of Engineering

The Merchant Venturers School of Engineering delivers world-class research and outstanding teaching via its three departments: Computer Science, Electrical and Electronic Engineering and Engineering Mathematics. Our excellent teaching is continuously informed by our research, allowing us to keep all the programmes we offer up-to-date and relevant for industry.

Our academics are leading authorities in their fields and are well-informed in knowing what programmes are needed to make Bristol engineering graduates highly sought after. For example, we were the first to introduce an MSc in High-Performance Computing in response to organisations undertaking research involving large amounts of data processing or complex calculations. Our HPC graduates will be fundamental to employers in this increasingly important area.

Since 2006 we have attracted millions of pounds in research awards, helping us equip our state-of-the-art facilities with the latest technologies and keeping us at the fore-front of teaching and research.

Our research areas include:
• Communications
• Electronic and photonic materials
• Intelligent systems

About Bits from Bytes

Bits from Bytes (BFB) is the leading manufacturer of affordable 3D printers and 3D printer kits - machines that make real plastic parts from CAD files for educational, hobby and professional applications. Bits from Bytes produces and markets both build-it-yourself kits and pre-assembled 3D printers, ranging in price from £795 - £2,495. The machines made at BFB are based on the RepRap Project which originated from the University of Bath, UK.

Founded by Iain Major and Ian Adkins in 2007, Bits from Bytes became a wholly owned subsidiary of 3D Systems Europe Ltd in October 2010.

About 3D Systems Europe Ltd

3D Systems is a leading provider of 3D content-to-print solutions including 3D printers, print materials and on-demand custom parts services for professionals and consumers alike. The company also provides CAD software and plugins, and affordable consumer create-and-make printers, apps and services. Its expertly integrated solutions replace and complement traditional methods and reduce the time and cost of designing new products by printing real parts directly from digital input. These solutions are used to rapidly design, create, communicate, prototype or produce real parts, empowering customers to create and make with confidence.

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