Two new laboratories containing cutting edge digital technologies have been unveiled at the University of Plymouth.
The Digital Fabrication Laboratory and the Immersive Media Laboratory will enable new modes of creative and digital production, and will transform teaching, research and industry engagement across a variety of areas, including digital media, art and design, architecture, the built environment and engineering. As a result, students will be able to take advantage of new technologies in virtual and augmented reality, robotics, 3D scanning and printing, and motion capture.
Based on the ground floor of the Roland Levinsky Building, the two laboratories represent a significant investment by the University in supporting the creative economy of Plymouth and the region. They have also been strategically located to ensure they are publicly accessible and close to key cultural spaces such as the Levinsky Gallery, Jill Craigie Cinema, The Box and The House.
“We’re excited to be opening these two cutting-edge facilities right in the heart of the campus and the city. They will enable us to close the gap between digital media and physical production processes, fundamentally changing how we design, make and build. Rapid prototyping, new robotic production methods, advanced architectural modelling and building, and cutting edge visualisation techniques are all now a reality for our students, researchers and partners.”
The Digital Fabrication Laboratory enables new solutions for digital media and physical production processes, through resources such as 3D printing, large-format CNC milling and 3D scanning. These emergent processes of making will contribute to a range of applications including prototyping of products and building elements, medical devices and dental casting, new robotic manufacturing methods, architectural modelling and representation, and design engineering solutions to name a few.
Some resources in the laboratory, such as the Stratasys Objet30 Prime 3D printer for medical applications, are unique to the South West and will contribute to a shift in the local industries through collaborative research and consultancy.
The Immersive Media Lab, located next door, provides facilities for 3D scanning and motion capture as well as a black box space to experiment with VR, AR (augmented reality) and MR (mixed reality) technologies.
The facilities have also enabled the University to launch three new degree courses and programmes – a BA (Hons) Digital Design and Engineering, an MA/MSc Integrated Design Innovation, and a BA Virtual Reality Design.
“These facilities will forge closer connections across disciplinary boundaries, and out into the creative economy. They will change the way we teach our students and undertake research, placing a greater emphasis on industry involvement and engagement, inspiring applied creative endeavours with the potential to benefit our society both locally and globally.”