Ruth Mitchell

North East showcases revolutionary technology

A new technology predicted to revolutionise manufacturing has gone on show in the North East for the first time. Direct Writing is a diverse set of processes used by NASA, the US Air Force and Formula One teams to replace acres of wiring and bulky sensory equipment. The process is used to make two- and three-dimensional products across a wide range of applications.

So far the technology has been used to place wiring and sensors directly onto the surface of helmets worn by fighter pilots, cutting the weight of the protective headware, and Formula One teams have ‘printed’ electrical wiring directly onto the cars to connect electronics instead of normal wiring. The process also has applications for medical procedures, helping to replace damaged or missing bone.

The Direct Writing Association (DWA) chose to hold its first International Conference in County Durham after receiving sponsorship from County Durham Development Company (CDDC). The key driver behind DWA’s decision to bring its conference to the North East was the link to NETPark, the region’s premier science park.

Stewart Watkins, CDDC managing director, said: “We are delighted that DWA has chosen County Durham as the location for its inaugural conference. Direct writing is going to be a major component of future manufacturing and we believe that NETPark will play a leading role in its development.”

Dr Steve Jones, chairman of the DWA, said: “We came here because the North East is making a commitment into NETPark. “At the moment a lot of these techniques are being developed around Cambridge but the North East is really playing its part. This region has an important heritage in manufacturing and engineering which creates the right environment for developing the production and application of direct writing technology.”

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