Leveraging Additive Manufacturing for Sustainable Innovation in Scottish SMEs

  • Scottish SMEs gain £1M in support for additive manufacturing, enhancing sustainability in the energy and medical devices sectors.
  • Over 100 businesses explore new sustainable production methods, reducing waste and improving product efficiency.
  • National Manufacturing Institute Scotland spearheads advancements, aiding SMEs in adopting transformative 3D printing technologies.

Scottish small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are at the forefront of a significant shift towards sustainable manufacturing practices, supported by a groundbreaking £1 million initiative. This investment is propelling over 100 local SMEs into the future of additive manufacturing (AM), particularly focusing on the high-potential energy and medical devices sectors.

The Additive Manufacturing Business and Technology Support (AM-BATS) project, spanning three years, is not just a funding mechanism but a beacon of innovation and sustainable development. Administered by the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS), part of the esteemed High Value Manufacturing Catapult and operated by the University of Strathclyde, the initiative is a direct response to the Scottish Government’s Advancing Manufacturing Challenge Fund, supported by the European Regional Development Fund.

The project’s reach extends across various sectors, but particular emphasis has been placed on energy and medical devices. In these fields, AM is revolutionizing product development and operational efficiencies. The programme’s mission is to demystify and democratize additive manufacturing technologies, enabling SMEs to design more sustainable products and penetrate new markets with reduced environmental impact.

One notable success story is from the energy sector, where a participating SME has pioneered a renewable energy component that significantly reduces material waste and energy consumption during production. In the medical devices arena, Confidence Plus, an innovative manufacturer, has utilized NMIS’s expertise to develop a new product aimed at enhancing the quality of life for ileostomy bag users. The company has harnessed AM for creating prototypes from recycled materials, demonstrating a significant stride towards sustainability and patient care.

The National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS). operated by the University of Strathclyde, aims to be a world-class, flagship facility at the heart of the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland (AMIDS) in Renfrewshire.
The National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS). operated by the University of Strathclyde, aims to be a world-class, flagship facility at the heart of the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland (AMIDS) in Renfrewshire.

Anne Inch, founder and managing director at Confidence Plus, expressed her gratitude, “Working with NMIS has opened new avenues for us, not only in product innovation but also in sustainable practices. This collaboration is paving the way for new job opportunities and advancements in healthcare manufacturing.”

Similarly, the energy sector witnessed transformative projects, such as the development of bespoke parts for renewable energy systems, showcasing the substantial environmental and economic benefits of additive manufacturing.

Dickon Walker, Polymer AM theme lead at NMIS, reflects on the project’s broader impact, “Additive manufacturing offers immense potential for SMEs, from rapid prototyping to bespoke production, aligning perfectly with sustainable manufacturing goals. Our programme is set to reduce entry barriers and foster a new wave of innovation in Scotland.”

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