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The Digital Manufacturing Centre (DMC) is heralding a new era of UK manufacturing with the launch of its all-new advanced engineering and production facility at Silverstone Park. Built from the ground up to solve complex engineering challenges, the DMC utilises state-of-the-art additive manufacturing (AM) processes, connectivity and pioneering engineering to enable companies operating at the forefront of their sectors.
Having overcome the challenges of building a world-class facility during the pandemic, the 2000-square metre facility is now fully operational. With an engineering-led philosophy, the DMC works in partnership with customers to understand their specific requirements, designing for application as well as manufacture.
With many sectors navigating significant shifts in technology, product development, increased competition and rising demand for advanced, low-carbon solutions, the DMC is set to play a key role in enabling innovators across the space, aerospace, motorsport, automotive, medical, industrial, oil & gas and marine industries.
The DMC’s extensive in-house engineering capabilities are focused on solving customer challenges with clever designs that maximise the advantages of the advanced processes at their disposal. As an end-to-end solutions provider, the facility brings together metal, polymer and silicone AM processes with complementary machining, finishing and inspection services for a fully-connected process chain.
The DMC will leverage actionable data from across the facility and its machines to deliver a step-change in AM capability and capacity. Embracing Industry 4.0 practices and principles, in line with the Industrial Strategy, the DMC’s data-driven approach will allow its engineers to further refine part design and processes by effectively implementing capabilities including predictive analytics and artificial intelligence (AI).
As a leading engineering, technology and manufacturing business within the Oxfordshire-Cambridgeshire Arc, the DMC is helping to develop sought-after STEM skills in frontier applications. Not only is this providing new employment opportunities, but it is also offering valuable support to local education, with the DMC team already working closely with Silverstone University Technical College (UTC) and other schools and colleges.
Collaboration has been a vital aspect of the DMC’s creation, with the business working alongside a number of significant industry and technology partners including Renishaw, Beckhoff, Spectroplast, DyeMansion, DMG Mori, Enable Manufacturing and the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC).
Its close partnership with Produmax, the acclaimed aerospace and precision engineering specialist, is bridging the Midlands with Northern England. Not only will the two businesses share capability and expertise, but Produmax has set up a satellite site at the DMC to provide on-site advanced machining and metrology for DMC customers.
The DMC’s extensive partnership network also means that customers have access to multiple proprietary processes, including Spectroplast’s silicone AM technology and Enable Manufacturing’s Additive Casting.
Kieron Salter, CEO of the Digital Manufacturing Centre, commented: “This is a significant moment for us, the realisation of a vision. Undertaking construction and fit-out in the middle of a global pandemic has not been without its challenges, but thanks to the support of our partners and SEMLEP, the DMC team’s efforts speak for themselves. While we have been operating at a limited capacity on a select few customer projects, we are now opening the doors and offering these unprecedented capabilities to wider industry.
“When we first looked around at the existing AM market, there was a clear lack of engineering collaboration, focus and support. Parts were being made, but suppliers had little practical engineering input or capability. We set out to bridge that gap by focussing on engineering for application and the production of end-use ready parts. Now, we offer a truly end-to-end solution that will enable innovators in the UK and abroad to really push the boundary, whether that be launching satellites or beating lap records.
“Not only are we bringing together the most innovative processes and equipment from across the industry, but we are doing so with a focus on connectivity and the end goal of integrating machine learning and artificial intelligence into our process chain, realising Industry 4.0 and aligning with the Government’s Industrial Strategy. This will provide a step-change in efficiency and part quality, distinguishing us from other suppliers and helping to ‘level up’ UK manufacturing and the national supply chain.”
The launch was attended by three local MPs – Rt. Hon. Dame Andrea Leadsom DBE MP, Andrew Lewer MBE MP and Greg Smith MP – alongside representatives from SEMLEP, BTVLEP, Silverstone Technology Cluster and Silverstone UTC.
Rt. Hon. Dame Andrea Leadsom DBE MP, commented: “It was wonderful to be involved in the launch of the Digital Manufacturing Centre. This facility is a shining example of British innovation and ingenuity, providing future-ready manufacturing capability and jobs to the UK. Investment in leading technologies and processes is at the heart of ‘levelling up’ the country and the Industrial Strategy. Not only does it add to domestic capability, but businesses like this are also an inspiration and valuable educational tool for young professionals and STEM students – a fantastic way to prepare for, and embrace, the future of skilled employment.”
Andrew Lewer MBE MP, commented: “Manufacturing has always been such a critical part of the UK economy and employment; and to see businesses like the DMC, in the heart of Northamptonshire investing in state-of-the-art systems is fantastic. It is an incredibly exciting time for STEM professionals, particularly within this region, and it is great to see businesses like the DMC leading the way.”
Greg Smith MP, commented: “This region has long been a hub of innovation, the famed ‘motorsport valley’, and it is fantastic to welcome a new forward-thinking business like the DMC. Bringing together advanced manufacturing and interesting new technologies, the DMC is a testament to the region and its role as a powerhouse of UK industry and innovation.”
Judith Barker, Director of Programmes and Governance at SEMLEP, commented: “KWSP’s determination to deliver the vision of the scheme and problem solve throughout the pandemic has been a beacon for fellow businesses and projects. It’s fantastic to come together to celebrate the launch of this innovative facility, set to add over £9m of market value to the area, create new jobs, apprenticeship opportunities and assist businesses. Another fantastic facility added to Silverstone Park at the centre of the Oxford to Cambridge Arc.”
By: James Devonshire