A new degree course in 3D printing has got under way at Ireland's newest technological university.
The one-year programme in additive manufacturing, better known as 3D printing, has been launched by South East Technological University (SETU) and is aimed at giving specialists the expertise needed in this sector.
Fully subscribed for its inaugural year, the part-time course has attracted people from the manufacturing industry across a range of sectors.
SETU has a suite of industrial metal and polymer 3D printers in Waterford and Carlow, worth over €3m, which are being used on the part-time Level 7 Bachelor of Science degree, and students have the opportunity to gain experience in a wide range of processing technologies, 3D printing platforms and materials.
Additive manufacturing is the process of building something layer by layer and the SETU course is expected to be popular in industries such as aerospace, medical technology, bio-pharma, agri-tech, and precision engineering.
It brings together expertise from the region through the Enterprise Ireland Technology Gateways, the South Eastern Applied Materials Research Centre, and Design+.
Programme leader is David Alarco who said the area of additive manufacturing "represents a fascinating ecosystem with huge opportunities for society, the environment and industry".
He described it as "a green technology" because of its efficiency in using material and allowing local manufacture which saves on transport, packaging and distribution.
"It is also far more innovative, you can make lighter and stronger parts, manufacture designs that were previously impossible and create goods tailored to the individual," Mr Alarco said.
Head of the Faculty of Engineering on SETU's Carlow campus, Dr Frances Hardiman, said the expertise which the university has in this sector is "second to none" and they want to harness that to support regional upskilling and create the specialists that companies need".
Dr Ken Thomas, Head of the School of Engineering in Waterford, said the south-east region can lead the charge in successfully adopting this technology.
"SETU will continue to develop as a centre of excellence for additive manufacturing, helping companies with their innovation opportunities and transition challenges".
Director of the South East Additive Manufacturing (SEAM) research centre, Dr Ramesh Raghavendra, said SETU boasts "excellent" infrastructure for such work.
"I have no doubt the formal commencement of the Bachelor of Science in Additive Manufacturing will help to transform the south-east into one of Ireland's leading advanced manufacturing regions," Dr Raghavendra added.