Peter Walters, 3D Printing Engineer
3D Printing Engineer
Teaching Design Support Group
How long have you worked at the department and why did you choose to join?
I joined the University earlier this year, at the end of February. I joined because I was excited by the opportunity to apply for the position of 3D printing engineer, helping to set up run a new 3D printing laboratory within the department. It’s always good to be involved at the start of something new.
How did you get to where you are today?
I have worked in various roles in engineering and industrial design, including roles as engineering draughtsman, industrial designer and researcher. I have BA and MA Degrees in Industrial Design and a PhD in prototyping. For 12 years I worked as a Research Fellow at the University of the West of England, in Bristol. I was part of a team researching 3D printing for a range of applications, from engineering to fine art. I taught on a new MA course in Design that accepted students from a range of backgrounds and disciplines. I also helped to run summer schools and training courses in digital design and 3D printing.
What does an average day entail, and what do you like the most about your job?
I support students and staff in their practical project work, helping them to use 3D printing to make prototype models and test pieces for their research. This normally involves meeting with them to discuss their needs, understanding what the key requirements might be, in terms of material properties, size, surface finish, and any other factors, such as whether an item is going to be worn next to the human body, in the case of a medical device, for example. They normally send me a virtual model of the item they want to make and I use software to inspect the model. I can then advise on the feasibility for 3D printing and suggest any changes that might be needed.
We have a suite of fourteen 3D printers, working in a range of plastic materials, with different build capacities and qualities. I prepare build files for 3D printing and operate the machines. Sometimes hand work is required to finish the parts. It requires a complementary combination of digital and analogue skills. In addition to looking after the new lab, this year I will be teaching on undergraduate labs and coursework modules in drawing and design, CAD and 3D printing.
If you weren’t working in your current role, what would you like to be doing?
I have been in this new role for a little over 6 months and I must say, so far it has felt like a dream job. However, if I were not here I think I would like to develop my musical side a bit more as I am a keen choral singer. Of course, there are plenty of opportunities for music-making in Oxford so I feel like I am already in the right place. I joined the Bach Choir as soon as I moved to Oxford.
What would you say to someone thinking about applying to work at the Department?
Go for it. I found the application process went smoothly, and I was welcomed into the department by a friendly and supportive team of colleagues.