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19 January 2009
New micro technology which is helping to increase the movement of prosthetic limbs has been praised by the Welsh Assembly Government Deputy Minister for Skills, John Griffiths AM.
During a tour of the University’s Manufacturing Engineering Centre (MEC), the Deputy Minister was briefed on the full range of research undertaken by MEC including the development of novel micro-needle array sensors.
Working jointly with Utah University, MicroBridge Services Limited – a spin-out company of MEC, has developed sensors which comprise of 100 needles just thicker than a human hair which sit on the brain and send out nerve impulses to prosthetics. Electrical signals that are detected are amplified and then transmitted and interpreted to help produce movement in prosthetic limbs.
Deputy Minister for Skills, John Griffiths AM said: "The work being undertaken at MEC is extremely impressive. It is fantastic to see a Welsh institution leading the way in scientific and technological research both here in the UK and internationally."
During his tour Mr Griffiths was shown selective laser sintering (SLS) — a process which involves melting powder to build up complex products. The minister was also shown the Centre’s Electro-Discharge Machining, which uses electrical sparks to create very small structures. It has been involved in creating a tiny die for the world’s most advanced fly-fishing line, now breaking into markets in Japan, Scandinavia and North America. It also produced the world’s smallest electrode, just 0.006mm in size.
He also saw the Centre’s reverse engineering facility, which builds 3D models from medical scans, and handled one of the skulls created this way. He was briefed on MEC's work with industry, providing advanced research and development support for business throughout Wales and beyond.
Derek Jones, Director of Business and Strategic Partnerships who accompanied Mr Griffiths on his tour, said: "MEC continues to conduct world-class multidisciplinary research and development in key areas of advanced manufacturing and information technology.
"But more than that, it uses the results to develop technologies for partners in the manufacturing sector, helping them to compete successfully in existing and new markets. The Deputy Minister’s visit was an opportunity to brief him on this work and show him the excellent research facilities at the Centre."
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