Firm celebrates new 3-D printer capable of making nuclear power station parts

Staff at Brafe with the company's new 3D printer

Staff at Brafe of Woodebridge with the company's new 3D printer - Credit: Brafe Engineering

An engineering firm is celebrating the arrival of a sophisticated new 3-D printer which is so accurate it can make components for nuclear power stations and submarines.

Woodbridge-based Brafe Engineering is set to use its hi-tech sand-printing machine to create specialist moulds into which it will pour molten metal to make the parts.

The £10m company, which employs 95 staff, had to clear and repurpose a whole room at its headquarters to accommodate its new kit, which it said represented "a significant investment".

Brafe's new sand 3-D printer

The machine prints layers of sand, much like an Inkjet printer, to create complex shapes and moulds - Credit: Brafe Engineering

Head of machining Chris Pritchard said the printer would cut the time it takes them to create a mould, which will mean less waiting time for customers to get their vital parts.

“All the components are designed by the customer and printed with fine silica sand with a very high melting point," he said.

“The 3D printer is very much like an inkjet printer – it applies layers of sand until the mould is created.

He added: “In the competitive markets we supply parts to, time is of the essence.”

Some of the intricate shapes the machine can create out of silica sand

Some of the intricate shapes the new machine at Brafe Engineering can create out of silica sand - Credit: Brafe Engineering

Most Read

The huge, hi-tech machine was delivered several weeks ago. Engineers at Brafe have been putting the new kit through its paces, creating a host of intricate models and sculptures.

It is currently running training sessions for employees across the business to help them understand what the machine is capable of.

Managing director Adam Dalby said: “At Brafe, we are always looking to see what the next leap in technology will be.

“Innovation is key to a company like Brafe, and we are committed to pushing the industry forwards.

Brafe head of machining Chris Pritchard demonstrates how the 3-D printer machine works.

Brafe head of machining Chris Pritchard demonstrates how the 3-D printer machine works. Credit: BRAFE - Credit: Brafe Engineering

“The new 3D printer will dramatically reduce the time it takes to make even the most complex of moulds, meaning we can deliver products to our clients even quicker.

“It has been great to see the 3D printer in action and it will be fascinating seeing what this piece of technology can do.”

Brafe is an Employee Ownership Trust.