Digital Manufacturing in Northamptonshire
As I reported in last month’s article, it started with a rumour. Tesla owner, Elon Musk was in the UK possibly scouting for a new plant location. I had heard that there were delays and problems with his venture in Germany. It was an opportunity that I and my close colleague and former Business Secretary, Andrea Leadsom grasped immediately, so we wrote to Elon Musk proposing Northamptonshire as the natural place to open a high-end engineering plant to support the new electrical automotive sector.
The public and business interest in this resulted in a very welcome and unexpected invitation to visit the cutting-edge and brand-new DMC (Digital Manufacturing Centre) factory located at the Silverstone Technology Centre.
DMC was created by K W Special Projects, a high-performance engineering consultancy firm based just across the border in Bicester. K W and DMC are led by engineering guru and entrepreneur Kieron Salter.
The development was realised by a public-private partnership with the South East Midlands Economic Partnership, (SEMLEP) who injected a £3.142 million boost into a £6.9 million total investment to make this happen.
I met with Kieron the CEO and his Chief Operating Officer Nigel Robinson, who guided me through the factory operations to give me a better insight into what they do and their capabilities. The whole plant was spotless and full of enthusiastic and deeply knowledgeable staff. Watching the machines in action with their laser beams cutting and building up incredibly precise components in a range of materials was quite mesmerising.
DMC acts as a technology innovation hub, providing on-site access to digital design and manufacturing facilities including a range of additive manufacturing technologies; (industrial 3D digital printing).
One example I saw was a door handle from a low volume supercar that was the fifth of the weight of a comparable but traditionally made car door handle – but the opportunities to scale up these technologies are what provides added excitement.
Digital manufacturing is transforming the way we manufacture and that is why having a centre here in the County is so important, hence the importance of SEMLEP investing with them. This plant is expected to help the plethora of small high-value engineering and other businesses across the region access this state-of-the-art production technology and will form a crucial element of the UK supply chain for the aerospace, space, defence, motorsport, automotive, medical devices, and industrial sectors. For more information, please do go and have a look at their website www.digitalmanufacturingcentre.com
OFFICE: 42 Billing Road, Northampton NN1 5DE