A South Yorkshire watchmaker has harnessed the power of 3D printing to create a classic timepiece.
When Guy Holland needed a bespoke watch component, he turned to Cardiff University and its PARC research centre to find a timeless solution.
PARC – an academic and industry partnership based at Cardiff Business School – explored and used 3D printing (3DP) as an innovative technology for Guy’s Doncaster-based watch business, Precise Time.
“Due to my fascination with watchmaking, I am always interested in new methods of manufacture,” said Guy.
“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.
“Guy was able to exploit new technologies and compete with established global watchmakers through a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with Cardiff.
“During a chance conversation with a friend, 3D printing was suggested as a possible solution. In addition to providing the desired watch part, I thought it would make a fascinating research project where I could really look at the potential for 3DP in bespoke watchmaking.”
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, said: “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.”
Guy added: “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. Watch this space!”