Following huge investment over the past year, the School of Jewellery in Birmingham has launched a cutting-edge Technology Hub and Centre for Digital Design and Manufacturing, with senior lecturer Frank Cooper at the helm.
Within a purpose-built environment, its students and the local business community now have access to an ever-widening collection of 3D printers, most of which are directly applicable to the jewellery and silversmithing industries.
“We can offer access to and teaching in the use of computer aided design (CAD) software in our CAD training suite, and we also operate the only precious metal-specific direct metal laser melting/sintering technology available in a UK educational environment,” explains Frank.
But he is keen to point out that these technologies are designed to complement traditional artisan skills, rather than replace them. “A skilled craftsperson, with an eye for detail and understanding of the manufacturing process, is still required to design the jewellery and turn the various outputs into beautiful finished items,” he adds.
A key representative of the School’s progressive approach to teaching, Frank always has one eye on the future, carrying out regular research into developing trends and technologies that may benefit the jewellery industry.
Indeed, he has also recently been invited to present some of his findings on the direct metal laser/sintering process to delegates in Shanghai, Berlin, Amsterdam and at the Santa Fe Symposium in New Mexico.
“Conducting research and presenting the results of that research to a wide, global audience is an integral part of Birmingham City University’s research strategy, which I greatly enjoy participating in,” he enthuses, adding: “I wouldn’t wish to work anywhere else!”