Additive Manufacturing Keeps Production Local: William Cook Saves 200 Jobs With Investment in Sheffield 3D Printing Factory
In a bid to gain new customers, as well as ‘safeguard’ 200 manufacturing jobs, family-owned engineering business William Cook, based in the UK, recently invested £6 million in a new factory in Sheffield that will feature the latest 3D printing technology. The company, which makes components for blue chip customers in several sectors, including aerospace, energy, and defense, dates back to 1840, and also has factories in Leeds and County Durham. William Cook’s new Precision factory will feature both 3D printing and investment casting technologies.Lord Sebastian Coe, double Olympic champion and president of International Association of Athletics Federations, grew up in Sheffield and returned to his hometown last week to officially open the new factory, which will let William Cook compete on a more international level for business, protect city jobs, take on new customers, and speed up the production of complex components. Lord Coe explained that his father was once a production director at a Sheffield-based cutlery company, so he has a fondness for the manufacturing industry.
“It is inspiring to come home today and see this successful family business making world class products in Sheffield,” he said.
Lord Coe was happy to attend the launch and open the new William Cook factory, especially after the firm supported his Sebastian Coe Charitable Foundation.
The company, as it continues to expand, recently recruited its biggest intake of apprentices – a total of 12 – in recent history.
The apprentices will train at the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) first, before they begin on-the-job training. Just this past summer, William Cook joined the AMRC as a partner after the university acquired Castings Technology International, and back in 2015, the AMRC used a 3D Systems Projet 6000 printer to fully embed electronics within 3D printed SLA objects, among other innovative projects.
William Cook’s roots are in steel casting manufacturing, and while the engineering company has grown exponentially since it first opened its doors (it now has a complete in-house design service and a total of four main plants), steel castings are still a major part of the company’s offered products. The company also has substantial design and research and development resources.
“This is not only an investment in our family company, but also in our employees, customers, suppliers, and the City of Sheffield,” said Sir Andrew Cook, William Cook’s chairman. “William Cook has been in Sheffield since the late 19th century and is the only traditional large Sheffield manufacturer with our name still ‘over the shop.’ This investment has totally renovated and modernised our site at Parkway and we believe it will play an increasingly important role in Sheffield’s – and Britain’s – manufacturing capability.”
The new factory looks to be, just like the company as a whole, a family affair. According to Shef News, Sir Andrew Cook invested over €800,000 to purchase an industrial voxeljet VX1000 3D printer. His son William, while at Cambridge University, conducted a study into 3D printing and enlisted some of the company’s engineers to help him look into plastic printing and sand printing.
“We were trying to find new ways in advanced technology that could help the UK in manufacturing,” said William Cook sales engineer Adam Cotton.
It looks like the company is already meeting this goal, having recently won the Component of the Year Award in the 2016 Cast Metal Industry Awards. The £6 million investment was spent on “project precision,” and should be a big success for the well-known business.
3D printing is an effective tool for localizing manufacturing, helping out with area economies as production can often be kept in-house. The benefits of local production extend to the communities around such facilities, keeping jobs in an area, as William Cook is seeing, as well as expediting production schedules that help on the business end. Discuss in the William Cook forum at 3DPB.com.[Sources: The Star, Shef News]
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