The IMPACT project is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and gives North East SMEs access to a £2.3m funding pot for the development and proof of concept of new products and processes utilising additive manufacturing processes.
Additive manufacturing, often referred to as 3D printing, is a technique by which components or complete products are built in layers directly from digital data. It enables the precise control of active components used in product manufacture and is a highly flexible technique, with short lead times and lower manufacturing costs than traditional manufacturing.
The technique has applications in a wide variety of markets, with final products encompassing precision engineered parts, corrosion resistant coatings, active surfaces such as sensors, and multi-layered materials such as composites.
The project will run until the 31st March 2021 with the aim of supporting SMEs in the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP) region which covers County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland. CPI is interested in supporting SMEs to access facilities and expertise, enabling them to manufacture products using minimal processing to optimise the use of scarce resources. SMEs who have already benefitted from the project are from diverse industries such as healthcare, food and drink, subsea and construction.
A key aim of the project is to increase the number of high-tech SMEs in the NELEP region, promoting the ambition to integrate SMEs using additive manufacturing into relevant supply chains. The IMPACT project provides SMEs with the materials knowledge and processing platforms to build their own capabilities and drive the disruptive change envisaged in the area. SMEs can apply for technical support to produce innovative products and processes that will enable these businesses to grow and increase employment opportunities and GDP within the area. CPI’s aim is to facilitate the development of long-term relationships with these SMEs, accelerating their journey to commercialisation.
SMEs will gain access to CPI’s business services, product and process development assets and expertise, as well as its state-of-the-art printable electronics, formulation preparation, precision deposition and characterisation facilities.
Rachel Squires, Business Development Manager at CPI, said: ‘The IMPACT project offers a considerable amount of valuable support for companies. We aim to create a tailored package of work alongside expert advice to help SMEs realise their product development faster and at lower risk.
"This will lead to new products and processes reaching the market and will benefit the region through the creation of new job opportunities to enrich the local economy.’