Aerospace, defence and security giant Babcock International has joined forces with Plymouth Science Park to launch a state of-the-art additive manufacturing (AM) centre that will enable the company to address obsolescence and supply chain issues by directly printing metal parts.

Babcock additive manufacturing lab
L-R –  Babcock’s Head of Manufacturing, Jon Morley, MP Johnny Mercer, PSP Chief Executive, Ian McFazden and Dr Jon Hall, Babcock Chief Innovation & Technology Officer.

The partnership builds on Babcock’s strong relationship with the academic and technology community across the South West, and the local community around Babcock’s Devonport dockyard.  Recent initiatives include a polymer manufacturing capability which produced personal protective equipment for the local air ambulance service during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Babcock will use the new facility to expand its capabilities in additive methods, such as direct metal laser sintering, which enables high priority parts to be produced by a 3-D printer, and as a training facility to strengthen its expertise in digital and data technologies.

This collaboration will accelerate Babcock’s R&D and real-world application of additive technologies

Dr Jon Hall, Chief Innovation and Technology Officer for Babcock, said: “This collaboration will accelerate Babcock’s R&D and real-world application of additive technologies. It provides a step change in how we’re advancing our own expertise and our partnerships to benefit our customers and the communities we operate in.

“The challenge of obsolescence and support chain resilience is key for engineering businesses. That’s especially true for Babcock where we maintain complex and critical equipment over long lifecycles. Having a manufacturing capability that allows us to direct print what we need, when we need it, in direct collaboration with our customers, means we will be able to create parts at scale, in a more efficient and sustainable way -  wherever there is a demand, in any part of our business.

Ian McFazden, Chief Executive of PSP, said: “We are proud to work with companies and individuals who are leading the way in solving some of the world’s most urgent needs. We are delighted to be expanding our work in the advanced engineering, defence and security sectors through a new and innovative partnership with Babcock.

“Babcock will be the first company to use our new additive manufacturing facilities to strengthen their engineering and technical expertise in digital and data technologies, and through the partnership we will ensure engineers and apprentices  develop new digital and data skills to enhance innovation adoption and increase productivity in the region.”