A SMALL independent business is helping Leigh return to its manufacturing roots after training hundreds in 3D printing and digital production.

With decades of experience in design engineering, manufacturing, and consultancy, Paul Bullock and Lee Fogg launched their own business in Leigh around two-and-a-half years ago; training and consulting people in the ever-growing digital manufacturing industry.

Moving into a base just off the end of Bradshawgate around a year ago, 3D 360 has quickly become one of the leading instructors in the wider region.

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Leigh Journal: Examples of designs come from the business' 3D printingExamples of designs come from the business' 3D printing (Image: 3D 360)

Boosted by funding from the European Union, 3D 360's training courses have trained more than 500 people with industry-level training to use or teach in their own companies - while also receiving a free 3D printer to use in their respective careers.

As the UK has left the European Union this funding is shortly running out, but the Department for Education has provided a boost by subsidising a similar pilot scheme to run from the 3D 360 hub in Leigh.

Leigh Journal: 3D 360 have been training hundreds in 3D printing and digital manufacturing3D 360 have been training hundreds in 3D printing and digital manufacturing (Image: 3D 360)

Available to people across the North West, this programme provides free opportunities for the unemployed, college leavers, or those wanting to change careers, with industry-recognised skills to get into the digital manufacturing world.

While the free bootcamp may "sound too good to be true", as Paul and Lee emphasise, those interested need to act quickly as the success of the scheme relies on its pilot here in Leigh.

Leigh Journal: A new skills bootcamp is following the business' EU funded schemeA new skills bootcamp is following the business' EU funded scheme (Image: 3D 360)

Lee said: "3D printing is the future of manufacturing and is a great leveller when it comes to competing on a global stage.

"Job opportunities are expanding rapidly in this area and there’s great scope for going self-employed with 3D Printing and 3D CAD. 

“The programmes we are running will help people to get ahead of the game by accessing and developing these skills at either no cost or low cost. It’s a chance to future-proof yourself and your career."

Leigh Journal: 3D 360, located on Brown Street just off Bradshawgate3D 360, located on Brown Street just off Bradshawgate (Image: 3D 360)

With an "endless list" of people receiving training at the 3D 360 courses, Paul said that the benefits are in training people in an ever-growing and carbon-friendly industry, bringing a range of different clients into the centre of Leigh, and helping to revive the town's manufacturing history.

Paul added: "We're only a small training provider in Leigh but have been punching massively above our weight.

"With the amount of people we have trained, we have made a massive difference to the region in terms of skilled workers and digital technology.

"The people and companies we have worked with are also doing great things so it's been great to transform the area in this industry, and help return the town back to its rich manufacturing heritage."

In addition to their training courses, 3D 360 has also been involved in writing government-standard syllabuses and has recently expanded with a new workshop hub in Leigh Spinners Mill.

For more information on 3D 360 and the training courses, you can visit the website here.