Red Deer Polytechnic’s Centre for Innovation in Manufacturing will be home to one of the only digital light-processing 3D printers at any post-secondary institution in Canada.
The centre was awarded $570,000 in federal funding, which helped purchase a new resin polymer 3D printer and a laser engraver, as well as the computer equipment and consumables required to run them. The funding also builds on PrairiesCan’s previous investment of more than $1.7 million to expand CIM-TAC into a regional hub for innovation services for central Alberta.
“Helping Alberta’s manufacturers with the adoption and integration of digital manufacturing is a large part of what we do,” says Dr. Tonya Wolfe, Director of the Centres for Manufacturing and Energy Innovation at RDP. “These new transformative technologies are out there, but there are barriers to adoption. Smaller businesses can’t necessarily afford to develop, integrate, test, and pilot a technology before they use it.”
Technology Access Centres such as CIM-TAC are designed to be a safe space for firms to de-risk the adoption of novel technologies and to develop the skills and knowledge required to meet the changing economic realities.
“Our government is continuing to support the growth of Alberta’s economy by helping small- and medium-sized manufacturers to access the resources they need to grow and remain competitive,” says the Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister for PrairiesCan.
“Today’s investment in Red Deer Polytechnic’s Technology Access Centre will bolster Alberta’s health care device manufacturing capabilities and give innovators and entrepreneurs a leg up to turn their ideas into products for global markets, and create high-quality jobs right here at home.”
The addition of the EnvisionTEC Xtreme 8K DLP (digital light processing) 3D printer to the CIM-TAC’s additive manufacturing line up, which includes an ExOne Innovent+ binder jet and a Stratasys 400mc FDM model, will fill a void in the commercial 3D printing equipment that is accessible to local business and industry.
Wolfe expects the new machine to be a key component in the execution of CIM-TAC’s latest private-public innovation partnership, using advanced manufacturing to lower the cost of customizable assistive health care devices. The next deadline to apply for that program is November 22.
“CIM-TAC’s rapid development team has been working with an industry client to develop custom-fit wheelchair cushions,” says Wolfe.
“We were able to put the EnvisionTEC immediately to work on this project printing customized end-use pieces. We’re not limited to just prototyping or functional prototyping. We can now do true additive manufacturing and provide a new focus area for central Alberta’s existing manufacturing base, many of whom have already expressed a desire to find new opportunities as our region’s traditional economy evolves.”
RDP’s EnvisionTEC Xtreme 8K DLP will be the first of its kind in a Canadian post-secondary institution and the only one in Canada outside of Ontario.
The CIM-TAC was also home to Alberta’s first commercial 3D printer. By piloting new additive manufacturing equipment, the CIM-TAC complements corporate efforts and allows business and industry to access the technology faster, lowering their risk and the cost of innovation.
“I want to thank Prairies Economic Development Canada for this funding, which increases Red Deer Polytechnic’s ability to collaborate with companies across the province, helping them to evolve and to be competitive around the world,” added Stuart Cullum, President of Red Deer Polytechnic.