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One-of-a-kind 3D printer donated to college

The huge state-of-the-art machine has a new home at Coleg Menai in recognition of the engineering department’s innovative work in computer-aided design and manufacturing

Coleg Menai has taken delivery of a huge, one-of-a-kind 3D printer donated by tech giants Autodesk.

The state-of-the-art machine was built by PhD students at Warwick University in conjunction with Autodesk - a world-leading company creating software for film special effects, manufacturing and design, and construction.

The 3D printer is now at Coleg Menai’s Llangefni campus, having been donated in recognition of the engineering department’s innovative work in computer-aided design and manufacturing.

Engineering lecturer Iwan Roberts said: “Our newly donated 1m3 3D printer is not just a machine, it's a gateway to limitless possibilities.

“With the scale of this printer, we can sculpt innovation and forge creativity. We have many smaller desktop 3D printers at the college, but for larger products, they require sub-assemblies which can be time-consuming and difficult to manage.

“Now, the college can print large-scale products in one piece. There is no doubt this will inspire and encourage more staff and students into additive manufacturing and it will be very exciting to see how our main programs will begin to debate what will be printed first. A cubic metre of potential awaits!”

The generous donation is the latest milestone in the burgeoning relationship between Coleg Menai and Autodesk.

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Iwan and fellow engineering lecturer Bryn Jones were recently invited to speak at the Autodesk University 2023 Conference, in a session entitled ‘Re-imagining Education for the Future Workforce’.

In a packed-out hall at the luxury Venetian Resort in Las Vegas, Iwan and Bryn shared the stage with educators from Chicago, Washington and Birmingham, as well as a design engineer from the Mercedes Formula One team.

They spoke to other educators about how Autodesk’s Fusion 360 software could be used to teach students cutting-edge engineering skills, and prepare them for the high-tech future job market.

It was the second time Iwan and Bryn had been invited to the annual conference, after Autodesk were impressed by their use of Fusion 360.

Iwan said: “It’s a great platform to prepare our students for a multi-skilled industry, where they often need to be able to design and make to an advanced standard. Hence why we use Fusion 360 for our Skills Wales and WorldSkills competition provisions.

“It’s very user-friendly software and myself and Bryn have been exploring it as much as we can, in particular generative design - an iterative design exploration process, giving the software loads and constraints to generate suitable and unique structures that we couldn’t begin to think how to design previously.

“Up to degree level, we try to utilise all of what the software has to offer, including stress analysis, pressure-testing CAD design skills, advanced CNC manufacturing and inspection techniques. All of these have huge benefits for the staff and students when using this cloud-based software with unlimited credits for education.”

Iwan and Bryn have also recently been recruited by WorldSkillsUK as training managers for the additive manufacturing category.

Their role is to scout the top students from across the UK based on their performances in skills competitions, and train them for next year’s WorldSkills international final in Lyon, and the following instalment in Shanghai 2026.

There was success for Coleg Menai engineering department using Autodesk Fusion 360 at last month’s WorldSkillsUK finals in Manchester. Engineering apprentice Osian Roberts won gold in CNC Turning, while lecturer and former student Eva Voma claimed bronze in additive manufacturing.