South East industry to benefit from equipment worth almost €1million awarded to WIT under the Enterprise Ireland Capital Call
Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) is unique to the Enterprise Ireland Technology Gateway network as it hosts three of the sixteen technology gateways; SEAM (South Eastern Applied Materials), PMBRC (Pharmaceutical and Molecular Biology Research Centre) and TSSG in the Walton Institute. Each gateway works in conjunction with industry to aid the research and development of innovative products and services through a dedicated team of full-time researchers and engineers.
New state-of-the-art equipment
Each gateway within WIT specialises in very different areas from advanced manufacturing, pharmaceutical science to ICT creating a diverse ecosystem of innovative research within the region. Since 2019, WIT’s technology gateways have secured over €2.9 million in funding from the Enterprise Ireland Capital Call, meaning new state-of-the-art equipment will be available for industry to access right here in the South East.
Growth of industry in the South East
Kathryn Kiely, Head of Industry Services in WIT credits funding programmes such as this Capital Call to the continued success and growth of industry in the region. “Investment in research infrastructure in WIT and the South East region is key to enhancing the innovative and productive capacity of the region. Funding which WIT’s technology gateways have secured in recent years through this programme has played a critical role in enabling our research centres to very effectively collaborate with companies on a range of R & D activities. Much of the equipment we provide companies access to is unique to the south east and, in some cases, unique to Ireland and we would like to thank Enterprise Ireland for supporting our research and regional business.”
Importance of new infrastructure
Martin Corkery, Enterprise Ireland Regional Director for the South & South East Region, comments on the importance of this new infrastructure in the region as organisations of all sizes strive to innovate and advance their competitive edge. “This important investment coupled with the support and expertise of our technology gateways in WIT will enable industry across the region to pursue their own innovation agendas particularly on challenges where they don’t have all of the resources ‘in house’. This capital investment is essential to serving the R&D needs of industry across the South East region and will give them an opportunity to utilise state of the art equipment as they look towards developing new innovative products and services.”
Projects valued at of over €40.5 million
Through the Technology Gateways in WIT, the expertise of almost 120 industry focused researchers, together with the specialist equipment and facilities of the wider institute are being leveraged to access near-to-market innovation and solutions. Since 2013, over 2,500 Irish based companies have used the Technology Gateway network to complete more than 4,500 innovation based projects at a total value of over €40.5 million, 49% of which has come directly from industry. These figures outline the requirement for industry gateways such as the three in WIT to support the economy, growth of the region, employment and FDI.
Impact of collaborations
Technology Gateways are accessed by companies of all sizes. Typical projects focus on the development of a new product or service or the optimisation of a process. The project sizes vary from small short term, of which 60% are €5,000-10,000, to larger projects which range to over €900,000 typically funded from the Enterprise Ireland Innovation Partnership Programme. For businesses – and for Ireland INC – the impact of these collaborations can be big.
To further develop collaboration and optimise the power of the Network, 3 sectoral clusters were established to deliver market lead innovation solutions for Irish companies, in the areas of Applied Internet of Things, Engineering, Materials & Design and Food and Beverages. Walton Institute, SEAM and PMBRC are members of all three clusters as they work to consolidate the considerable amount of expertise and technologies available throughout the network and deliver market lead innovation solutions in a collaborative and responsive fashion.
New equipment available in 2021
The new equipment will be available in 2021 and includes:
- Digital Photogrammetry Unit (TSSG Technology Gateway)
- Near-Infrared Spectrometer (PMBRC Technology Gateway)
- X-Ray Fluoroscope (SEAM Technology Gateway)
- Coordinate Measurement Machine (SEAM Technology Gateway)
- White Light Interferometry (SEAM Technology Gateway)
2021 Capital Call Wins in the TSSG Gateway at Walton Institute:
The TSSG Technology Gateway was awarded funding for a Digital Photogrammetry Unit, a system which comprises a 3D scanner system working with photogrammetry techniques to implement contactless, rapid and safe scanning of real life objects from 50cm radius up to and exceeding people and large artefacts. This equipment offers the capability to acquire detailed 3D models of large objects (including people) in a fraction of a second. This would enable rapid 3D modelling for clients and this equipment has huge potential for such verticals as Virtual and Augmented Reality, healthcare, telepresence and Industry 4.0 applications.
2021 Capital Call Wins in PMBRC:
The PMBRC was awarded funding for a Near-Infrared Spectrometer (NIR), an instrument used in the rapid analysis of a wide range of samples relevant to the pharmaceutical, medical device, food, beverage, ingredients, veterinary and engineering sectors. NIR can be used to replace certain “wet chemistry” lab techniques which are labour intensive and time consuming. NIR involves measuring the amount of near-infrared light absorbed by the sample (the spectrum) and using mathematical techniques to relate that spectrum to the identity or potency of the sample. Measuring the spectrum of a sample is simple, quick and can be done with minimal training, allowing the test to be readily deployed in a warehouse, factory floor or in a remote location.
2021 Capital Call Wins in SEAM:
The funding acquired from Enterprise Ireland by the SEAM Research Centre will be used to purchase three key pieces of equipment infrastructure. These include an X-Ray Fluoroscope (XRF), Coordinate Measurement Machine (CMM) and White Light Interferometry (WLI).
The X-Ray Fluoroscope (XRF) is a versatile analysis system and is capable of performing a wide range of different types of elemental analysis and is an excellent match to SEAMs growing materials analysis and contaminant analysis service to industry. X-ray fluorescence is an elemental analysis technique which allows for the examination of both small and large sample areas. µXRF with X-ray optics has been successfully used for applications including small feature evaluation, elemental mapping, film and plating thickness measurement, detection of micro-contamination, evaluation of multi-layered coatings for advanced circuit boards, small particle analysis, and forensics. Such a capability is synergistic with SEAMs ongoing activities in materials analysis.
A Coordinate Measurement Machine (CMM) measures the geometry of physical objects by sensing discrete points on the surface of the object with a probe. Various types of probes are used in CMMs, including mechanical, optical, laser, and white light. Depending on the machine, the probe position may be manually controlled by an operator or it may be computer controlled. CMMs typically specify a probe's position in terms of its displacement from a reference position in a three-dimensional Cartesian coordinate system (i.e., with XYZ axes). In addition to moving the probe along the X, Y, and Z axes, many machines also allow the probe angle to be controlled to allow measurement of surfaces that would otherwise be unreachable. This system will have a 3 axis coordinate measurement system with a granite table for high stability, a scanning probe head for rapid measurement, rotatory stage and also a comprehensive software suite for the rapid creation of measurement reports.
White Light Interferometry (WLI) is a non-contact optical method for measuring the surface topology/roughness of surfaces. The method is widely used across a variety of industries such as surface finishes of machined components, mould tools and moulded components, silicon chips, MEMS devices and medical devices (ophthalmic, stents, catheters, etc.). The technique is valuable to many industries, from precision engineering, medical devices and high-volume manufacturing. The tool is also a cornerstone analysis technique for the characterisation of 3D printed components, of which SEAM has developed substantial expertise in over the last decade. This system will have additional capabilities such as Enhanced Resolution through High Resolution Camera, a fully automated stage allowing the analysis of large areas and a full range of objective lenses ready for every conceivable analysis task.