Watchmaker teams up with Cardiff University for 3D printed timepiece

The 3D printer was used to make the final stainless steel custom dial surround

A south Yorkshire watchmaker has teamed up Cardiff University to harness the power of 3D printing to create a new timepiece.

PARC – an academic and industry partnership based at Cardiff Business School – explored and used 3D printing (3DP) as an innovative technology for Guy Holland’s Doncaster-based watch business, Precise Time.

Using the 3DP knowhow of Cardiff University and PARC, the team manufactured a prototype dial surround before commissioning a 3D metal printing specialist to make the final stainless steel part.

Hrishikesh Pawar, who led the PARC project, said: “This is a really exciting innovation for us. It demonstrates that unique parts can be created from bespoke designs that are very tricky to make using conventional watchmaking methods.”

Professor Aris Syntetos, chair in operational research and operations management at PARC, added: “This project has been judged outstanding by Innovate UK. It showed 3DP can shorten lead times for customised requests, helping us to provide bespoke services and allowing SMEs like Precise Time to manufacture spare parts on demand.”

Holland added: “Due to my fascination with watchmaking, I am always interested in new methods of manufacture. Whilst designing a watch for myself, I came up with a plan for a custom dial surround. The part needed to be exact, with precise hour ‘markers’, and these would be awkward to manufacture with precision using a watchmakers’ lathe.

“The watch started as a practice piece, and ended up becoming a gift for my father. The results of this experiment with 3DP have been excellent. I’m delighted with the finished result, and the quality is superb. This is just the beginning of our company’s study of 3D printed watch parts. Next up is movement modification.”

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