Darwen Terracotta explores modern manufacturing techniques

Darwen Terracotta, a manufacturer of traditional products for the construction industry, is tapping into modern technologies as it looks to the future.

The Blackburn firm manufactures and supplies replica architectural terracotta and faience for the restoration and repair of historic buildings.

They turned to the Made Smarter programme to explore how they could make best use of 3D scanning and printing technologies.

Made Smarter, the a national movement helping SME manufacturers in the North West to adopt digital technologies, teamed them up with a student from Manchester Metropolitan University who helped them research new techniques.

The intern, in return, was given paid work, valuable hands-on practical experience, a taste of a potential career path, and a foot in the door of a forward-thinking company.

Fully funded interns such as these are working on live projects across the North West which and having a real effect on the business’s long-term success.

Steve Allen, director, said: "So many of our manufacturing processes are done by hand, but we are a forward-thinking business and want to explore how technology can help. We have invested in technologies before which didn't turn out as we'd hoped, so we wanted to take a more cautious approach.

"Having an intern who could look at our factory, how we make things, and research how 3D scanning and printing can help, has been highly beneficial. It meant we didn’t have to take the gamble of any capital investment, but instead allowed the intern to use his university's access to leading edge research to test various technologies first."

Donna Edwards, programme director for Made Smarter, said: "It’s a win-win for the interns and manufacturers. Students and graduates gain industry knowledge, transferable skills and real-life experience, while being paid the national living wage, and businesses can benefit from a fully funded digital native to help them to understand how new technology can transform production."

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