MMU Print City is UK first for Stratasys J850 with FabriX Innovation Kit from Laser Lines

Established over five years ago, Print City is an award-winning facility and the innovation hub for additive and digital manufacturing at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). Working with a variety of businesses and individuals, ranging from students and researchers to small businesses and staff looking to upskill, Print City offers strong on-site support and industry connections within and beyond the University to help push technologies and product development.

Print City has a dedicated CAD area and a large and varied range of 3D printers for manufacturing plastic and metal parts on site, coupled with facilities for investment casting of small metal parts such as jewellery and including a broad range of associated technologies, such as scanning, laser welding and laser cutting.

Thanks to the support of the Robotics Living Lab and Professor Susan Postlethwaite as the Principal Investigator on the project, MMU Print City has benefitted from £3.8m of funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, which has enabled the university to become a first with research into 3D printing onto fabric.

Carl Diver, director at Print City of Manchester Metropolitan University, says: “Print City is a wonderful facility and I feel very privileged to be the director here. No two days are the same.

“We’ve got over 80 machines in the space with dedicated staff, an extremely creative vibe – it’s a very exhilarating place to work. Print City is a central facility of Manchester Metropolitan University, so sits in the Department of Engineering, but we support students across the university. One of the strongest cohort of students using the facility are those from the fashion and textiles courses.

Laser Lines J850 Mmu Dress

3D printing on fabric

“For many years, we’ve been trying to print on to fabrics and once we saw the technology with the Stratasys J850, with the fabrics add-on, it was really a no brainer that this was a technology that would help take our research to another level completely. The J850 is a wonderful piece of technology and there’s nothing else like it out there.”

The J850 Prime with FabriX is predominantly being used for research purposes and to see and understand what’s possible when you bring 3D printing, fabrics, flexible materials and rigid materials together. And it’s just starting to push the boundaries.

Then, with the integration of this work with the university’s Masters programme on digital design and manufacturing, students will be able to see the technology in action, ensuring that they witness the ground-breaking work of researchers, while being inspired and equipped with the knowledge and skillsets necessary for future roles in the industry.

Laser Lines J850 Mmu Machine

Industry-leading support

The Stratasys J850 was supplied and installed by Laser Lines, the leading supplier of quality lasers and accessories, 3D printers, rapid prototyping machines and vacuum casting systems in the UK. With over 40 plus years’ experience of using laser technology to achieve the goals of business and industry, Laser Lines was one of the first to recognise the potential of 3D printing over 26 years ago.

MMU went through the normal tendering process but are delighted that Laser Lines was selected. Carl adds: “Our engagement with Laser Lines throughout the entire process has been wonderful. We had a lot of encouragement, loads of support and very open communication. Laser Lines has really helped us understand more about the technology – what it’s able to do, how the machine would be delivered and installed and what we needed to get right for set up. We are extremely grateful for all the support Laser Lines has given around getting the equipment effectively in place and installing it – we couldn’t have asked for more.”

The Stratasys J850 with FabriX innovation extension kit is an easy-to-use, comprehensive, and repeatable solution for 3D printing on fabric and flexible substrates and is available for new and current Stratasys J850 3D printer customers. The new extension kit is especially important for designers and researchers who are looking to print on fabric for prototyping purposes, to create never-seen-before 3D designs.

The FabriX innovation extension kit includes hardware, software and materials, transforming the J850 Prime into an end-to-end hybrid system that extends the printer’s 3D printing capabilities to include 3D printing on flexible, flat substrates, such as fabric, carbon fibre, flexible polymers, mylar, netting, canvas and beyond. It offers the ultimate solution for design and concept 3D printing with a simple workflow that is easily implemented using Stratasys GrabCAD Print software.

The FabriX Innovation kit includes: a fabric mounting jig (0.2-2.5mm thickness), automatic fabric thickness calibration tool, software that includes a fabric analyser wizard, flexible material printing on fabric and netting settings, and UV light illumination control during print process.

Carl adds: “Our installation of the J850 with FabriX solution underscores our commitment to staying at the forefront of technological advancements. What we’ve seen students and researchers within the university do in the past has blown our minds and I think with this technology, we’ll be able to bring fashion design and manufacture to another level – whether it’s wonderful pieces that are just creative, highlighting what’s possible with fashion and textiles and manufacturing here in the UK, or even looking for new, more sustainable fashion production.

“We’re really excited about what new worlds this technology will open and about giving students and researchers the tool set, capability and freedom to really push the boundaries.”

Print City’s strategic investment in the J850 with the FabriX Innovation Kit has positioned the facility as a trailblazer in 3D printing research and education. The collaboration with Laser Lines and the facility’s commitment to pushing technological boundaries not only benefits ongoing projects but also contributes to the development of a skilled workforce that is ready to shape the future of 3D printing and fabric design in the UK.

For more information on the Stratasys J850 FabriX solution or for any aspect of 3D printing, call Laser Lines on 01295 672599 or email [email protected].