Trotec is the model machine for Sheffield architecture students

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Published on: 04/25/2019

A practical learning environment

The University of Sheffield's School of Architecture is amongst the leading schools of its kind in the UK. Committed to having a positive and lasting impact on the global built environment, the school is known for a strong social ethos and "live" work.

Through a combination of external partnerships, research and teaching incentives, students from the school engage with real issues from across architecture, society and the environment throughout their course.

Limited by technology

Within the school's workshop students create a range of architectural applications including maps, architectural models, signage and awards. While a number of tools are used to create the models, the main production method was using two laser engraving machines.

However, the laser machines proved to be a source of frustration for students and staff alike. With a large number of students competing for time on the lasers, the limitations of the machines' processing capabilities soon became apparent. Due to the nature of their applications, and time restrictions of the only being able to utilise the lasers during class time, students found it hard to achieve what they wanted to using the machines.

Alongside the limited processing capabilities, the technical support the university received from their laser supplier was also lacking. When an engineer was required to fix their lasers they would often be required to wait up to 8 weeks for a visit, rendering the machines out of action for that time.

These complications led to Laura Mason, workshop manager at the University, to begin searching for a more efficient laser machine that would offer greater application flexibility and meet the demands of the students.

"The Speedy 400 laser cutter has been a huge benefit to the students. Cutting speeds are now twice as fast, allowing students to get more work done within their allotted time and as the laser software contains all of the material settings, set up times are reduced and the students can work more independently. The quality of laser processing is also superior, making producing models cheaper and quicker for our students, a huge advantage over our previous machines."
- Laura Mason - Workshop Manager, University of Sheffield (School of Architecture) -

Intuitive working with Trotec

Having had previous experience working as an architectural model maker in different countries, Laura had worked with all of the big names in the laser industry. However, her positive experience with Trotec lasers made her confident that Trotec would be the right supplier for the university.

Laura contacted Trotec's UK office and was introduced to her local area manager who she met for a demonstration at Trotec's Midlands showroom, where she was shown a variety of different laser machines, including Trotec's entry level large format laser cutter and the Speedy series of lasers. After careful consideration Laura decided that the Speedy 400 was the right choice for the department.

Since installation, the Speedy 400 has proved to be a highly efficient workhorse for students, offering quicker cutting and engraving speeds alongside improved file processing. The user friendly JobControl software has been updated with the parameters for all materials used by the school, allowing students to easily set up their own jobs and operate the machine without the support of staff.

Additionally, Laura highlighted the efficiency of Trotec's technical service department. Any issues that have occurred with the Speedy 400 have been dealt with efficiently and an engineer is available to visit the same day if needed, in contrast to the previous supplier.

"We've also used a number of materials from Trotec, we find that they work perfectly with the laser and we can have them delivered next day if needed."
- Laura Mason - Workshop Manager, University of Sheffield (School of Architecture) -