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Timeless innovation

9 October 2018

Watch

A precision part made on a 3D printer has helped a South Yorkshire watchmaker stay ahead of the competition.

When Guy Holland needed a bespoke watch component, he turned to Cardiff University and its PARC research centre to find a timeless solution.

PARC - an academic and industry partnership based at Cardiff Business School  explored and used 3D printing (3DP) as an innovative technology for Guy’s Doncaster-based watch business, Precise Time.

As part of a KTP (Knowledge Transfer Partnership), Guy was able to exploit new technologies and compete with established global watchmakers.

“Due to my fascination with watchmaking, I am always interested in new methods of manufacture,” said Guy.

“Whilst designing a watch for myself, I came up with a plan for a custom dial surround. The part needed to be exact, with precise hour ‘markers’, and these would be awkward to manufacture with precision using a watchmakers’ lathe."

Using the 3DP knowhow of Cardiff University and PARC, the team manufactured a prototype dial surround before commissioning a 3D metal printing specialist to make the final stainless steel part.

Hrishikesh Pawar, who lead the KTP research project, said: “This is a really exciting innovation for us. It demonstrates that unique parts can be created from bespoke designs that are very tricky to make using conventional watchmaking methods.”

Professor Aris Syntetos, Chair in Operational Research and Operations Management at PARC, added: “This KTP project has been judged outstanding. It showed 3DP can shorten lead times for customised requests, helping us to provide bespoke services and allowing SMEs like Precise Time to manufacture spare parts on demand.”

Guy added: “The watch started as a practice piece, and ended up becoming a gift for my father. The results of this experiment with 3DP have been excellent. I’m delighted with the finished result, and the quality is superb. This is just the beginning of our company’s study of 3D printed watch parts. Next up is movement modification. Watch this space!”

Cardiff University specialises in KTPs that can transform private, public and third sector organisations. To find out more, visit our KTP web pages.

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