MANUFACTURERS in Lancashire have been taking advantage of a programme aimed at teaching the latest digital skills to their work forces.

The programme is run by Made Smarter, a collaborative project that has run various similar schemes imparting advanced manufacturing techniques on companies throughout the region.

Made Smarter has now been running the Fast Track Additive Manufacturing - Upskilling the Workforce programme which aims to connect the region’s manufacturers to digital tools, leadership and skills and from which companies like Chorley based Whitworth and Bounce Cycles and Whitworth’s RPS Precision Engineering have benefited.

Bounce Cycles managing director Frank Spear said: "We have been using additive manufacturing for a few years now, specifically for making components and fixtures for assembly and machining operations.

“The more I see what others are doing with additive manufacturing, the more inspiration I begin to see with what the possibilities really are.

"This is why I wanted to take part in the programme.

“As a business owner more exposure to new technologies is not an opportunity I wish to miss."

When taking part, businesses will embark on a 12-day programme which aims to give participants a grounding in all aspects of additive manufacturing, from understanding the entire digital workflow end-to-end, including the software and hardware, to the range of materials that can be used to create products or parts, and post-processing skills.

Made Smarter runs the programme in collaboration with Manchester Metropolitan University’s PrintCity, and Fabricon Design Ltd, a business specialising in advanced manufacturing methods.

Together they hope to make the newest technologies accessible to small and medium sized enterprises.

RPS Precision Engineering managing director Mike Sirrell said: "As an SME it's very difficult to justify the time and money to experiment with emerging technologies like additive manufacturing.

“That is a real barrier to our competitiveness against larger companies.

"We are confident that the Fast Track programme will give us valuable insights into what is possible with additive manufacturing which could be a phenomenal add on to the services RPS offers."

The programme has been funded from the £3m Fast Track Digital Workforce Fund, a joint venture between Greater Manchester Combined Authority, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and the Lancashire Digital Skills Partnership.

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