Darlington-based Paragon Rapid Technologies hosted 8 6th form students and Head of Engineering, Phil Tilson, from Dyke House Sports and Technology Sixth Form College.
“We have students in years 12 and 13 studying towards a BTEC Level 3 National Extended Certificate in Engineering,” says Mr. Tilson. “One of the units of study is based on using 2D and 3D CAD packages. We study 3D CAD using Solid Works. I had previously spoken with Paragon Rapid Technologies’ Managing Director, Phill Adamson about the company and I knew that Solid Works was a package often used in the development of 3D rapid prototype outcomes.
“Because of this, I wanted my students to visit the factory. Not only would a visit give some relevance and context to the work we do in college towards their qualifications, it would be an opportunity to see the brilliant work going on in our own Tees Valley. Also, an insight into this rapidly developing industry could help reinforce career choices in the engineering sector.”
The students were given a talk by Phill Adamson on trends in the design and product development sector and the progress of the rapid prototyping and low volume manufacturing business over the past 16 years. Phill and co-founder, Peter Humphrey, have grown the business from one 3D printer, one vacuum casting machine and a model making capability to the multifaceted additive manufacturing, rapid prototyping and engineering business it is today.
The students were then taken around the factory by Paragon’s Operations Manager, Marc Faux. All 3D printing machines were in operation, giving the students an opportunity to observe firsthand four different types of additive manufacturing; and they were encouraged to discuss and explore the advantages and disadvantages of each. As the company was on the verge of completing a large-scale automotive project, the students also had the opportunity to compare the processes with the more hands-on methods of vacuum casting and reaction injection moulding.
After a tour of the model shop, where the Paragon’s 15 model makers were occupied with fettling and finishing a range of models for customers from across a range of industries, including entertainment and energy, the students were taken across to the state-of-the-art CNC engineering facility. Here, they observed alloys being milled for projects in the aerospace sector and watched Paragon’s design engineers preparing CAD files for a series of jigs and fixtures.
The students delighted their tour guide and teacher with their enthusiastic comments:
“It was good to see SolidWorks CAD in use, using the same package that we are learning in college,” said William, who is studying for a BTEC Level 3 National Certificate in Engineering alongside A-Level Physics and Mathematics.
Nicole, also studying Engineering, Mathematics and Physics, gave the company great praise, commenting “This is exactly the area I want to work in now I’ve seen it.”