We had a chat with Louise Geekie and Neil Burns from Croft Additive Manufacturing Ltd to talk about what their company does and why they joined STFC CERN BIC.
1. Briefly describe your company
We are a small spin out SME that has industrial knowledge of filtration additive manufacturing. Our new disruptive technology allows us to build exactly what we want with very little waste which is more economical and environmentally friendly. The process means we can make things that normally are too intricate or complex to make with traditional manufacturing methods. Consumers want strength with an ‘open area’ which is hard to produce in normal ways, however with additive 3D printing it is possible. We believe there is ‘undiscovered scope’ which conventional engineers have not thought about before.
We use Computerised Flow Dynamics (CFD) to visualise how these products can be made. We particularly specialise in designing and producing fluid flow filters due to our knowledge from sister company Croft Filters.
2. Why did you apply to the STFC CERN BIC?
We applied for the prestige of working with CERN, the unique business support package offered by STFC, and facilities on site at Sci-Tech Daresbury. We manufacture locally in Warrington so it is an ideal location as we are so close. Additive manufacturing is a young technology, and there are lots of avenues to explore which we can exploit at CERN. When we visited them, there was a lot of interest in us too so it’s a two way street to helping each other.
3. How do you think you will benefit from the STFC CERN BIC?
As an SME, access to CERN’s capabilities to support our ideas is something we could only dream of, and wouldn’t have been possible without STFC. Whilst over in CERN, we met three guys from different departments who could help us in different aspects of our business. One uses plastic 3D printing and we want to compare machines, a second has expertise in software on measuring and testing equipment, and a third was looking at laser control settings for software, all of which we can talk to and use their knowledge to improve our machine at home.
The main benefit from the STFC CERN BIC will be access to CERN’s knowledge and experience in how powder fuses to create layers; the combination of alloys and material science; and how mixing can create different strengths, adversion to corrosion and flexibility. As a company we wouldn’t have the capacity to mix all the alloys to determine these properties therefore the sharing of information is brilliant.
4. What is your goal for your company by the end of CERN BIC?
We aim to have a very good relationship with CERN, and to take this further in the future. We also want to use STFC’s business support, for marketing strategy and selling, as well as utilising the networking opportunities with other companies on site and in the wider networks.