The academy is located at UWTSD’s campus in Swansea, where it runs technical courses for students that are looking for a career in engineering and advanced manufacturing.

Lee Pratt, advanced manufacturing skills academy manager at UWTSD, said the primary focus of the academy is to provide apprentices in the area with machining experience so they could “hit the ground running”.

In their ambition to create one of the UK’s leading training facilities for advanced manufacturing, Mazak was approached to supply UK-manufactured CNC machining centres and CNC lathes from their Worcester factory for the academy.

Mazak received an order to supply the three VCN-430A vertical machining centres and two QUICK TURN 200MB units. These machines were chosen due to their suitability for a wide variety of applications the students learn about as part of the curriculum.

These included pocket milling, face milling, lathe operations, internal and external thread turning and thread milling, ensuring apprentices are exposed to a wide variety of machining techniques that are used in industry today.

“Following consultation with industries in the area, it became clear that Mazak was the obvious choice as far as machining centres were concerned,” said Pratt “We recognised the importance of using industry-standard machinery when it comes to apprentice upskilling, and with Mazak setting the benchmark for machine tools, it was clear they would be invaluable in providing our students with hands-on machining experience.”

He added: “We weren’t disappointed with our choice, as the machines have delivered everything we wanted and more. I am fairly new to operating Mazak machines, but I’ve found they have fantastic ease-of-use – in fact within no time at all, I was producing complex components with relative ease. The design of the machine tool also means the controls are really intuitive for students, which is vital in an educational environment.”

The academy opened its doors in January 2020 and provides students with technical training to degree level, all within one facility. It has already hosted apprentices from FSG Tool & Die Ltd, a Pontyclun-based toolmaking service provider, who have used Mazak’s machines to provide the company with completed components for customer use.

“We have taken the leap to invest heavily in industry-standard machine tools, and we have already had a lot of companies in the area showing strong interest in sending their apprentices to us to familiarize themselves with the technology,” said Pratt.

Neil Coggins, area sales manager at Yamazaki Mazak UK, added: “Upskilling the current and next generation of CNC machinists is crucial if we are to continue to grow the UK’s manufacturing sector. We believe Mazak have a big part to play in this aim and are proud to have provided UWTSD with state-of-the-art machining centres and lathes.

“Through exposure to the latest possible machinery and CNC technology currently used in industry, those training at the University’s new academy will be able to seamlessly transition into the working environment. We are thrilled UWTSD’s students and staff have found this machinery to be intuitive and easy-to-use and hope they can play an integral part of the University’s curriculum.”