Get creative with our model-making equipment

Location: Eldon Building

The 3D Workshops are our hub for art and design using wood, metal, plastics, concrete and plaster. Students use these workshops to get hands-on with their materials and bring their designs to finished physical form.

Whether it's architectural modelling, prop making, creating feature pieces for interiors, using experimental techniques and materials for fashion design, or creating blocks and stencils for illustration or graphic design—the 3D Workshops are home to the staff, equipment, knowledge, and skills to support your project.

Access to our Workshops requires a mandatory health and safety induction run by a technician. Following that, most of the facilities are open access, with some available to book online in advance.

Equipment and amenities

Where wood, plastics and non-ferrous metals can be cut, shaped and drilled using manual machinery in the workshop. This includes:

  • two bandsaws — a machine using a blade of a continuous band with teeth on one edge, commonly used for straight and large radius curved cuts; blades of various widths are available depending on the task being undertaken, and a technician is available to change the blade as required
  • two fretsaws — a machine fitted with a reciprocating thin straight blade held under tension; used for more intricate cutting work
  • large and small disc sanders — a rotating disc of abrasive with a table in front which can be set to various angles used to smoothen and shape edges
  • belt sander — a sander using a continuous belt of abrasive cloth tensioned between two rollers, often used to smoothen larger flatter surfaces
  • bobbin sander — a rotating cylinder of replaceable abrasive used to precisely smoothen and shape internal radii edges of material; cylinders are changeable for various diameters as required
  • pillar drill — a freestanding machine with a motor driven chuck that can hold various sizes and types of drill bits used to precisely drill holes in materials
  • woodturning lathe — a variable speed machine where material is held between two ‘centres’ and rotated; using turning chisels, the material can be processed from being square in section to cylindrical
  • mitre guillotine — used to cut angles accurately for items such as frames or box liners

There's a large assembly area in the middle of the Main workshop, featuring:

  • eight assembly tables — large tables with plenty of space to lay out and assemble materials
  • eight woodwork benches — with fixed vice for holding material to be cut or shaped
  • open access hand tools — such as rulers and squares for marking out, hammers, saws, chisels and screwdrivers

Open access power tools

Alongside the hand tools are a wide range of power access tools that students can use.

These include:

  • multiple cordless drills and screwdrivers
  • biscuit and domino jointing machines — to align and strengthen joints between wood and wood-based materials
  • woodworking jigsaw — used to make curved and intricate cuts into wood, plastic and metal
  • hand router — for moulding of edges of wood and wood-based materials and shaped work using templates and a bearing guided cutter
  • portable extraction units for use with hand power tools

Students can use technician-only operated machines, such as:

  • vertical wall saw — for cutting wood and plastic panels
  • table saw — for cutting smaller components in wood base materials and acrylic sheet
  • chop saw — for cutting materials to length squarely or at simple and compound angles
  • wood planer and thicknesser — used to flatten the surface of rough sawn timber, then process it to a consistent thickness
  • drum sander — used to precisely sand wood and wood-based materials to thickness
  • spindle moulder — used for moulding and bevelling wood and wood-based board material, shaped work using jigs and cutting tenons
  • mortiser — used to cut mortise joints in wood

Our metal workshop is a space for students to design, cut, shape and join metals using both hot and cold processes. Equipment in the metal workshop includes:

  • chop saw — a circular saw used to cut to length metal tube and bar either squarely or at a manually set angle if required
  • sheet metal guillotine, folding, rolling and notching machines — used to cut and shape sheet metals to preferred designs
  • MIG welder — an electric arc welder that uses a wire to join metal components; the weld is shielded whilst being formed by an inert gas to protect it from airborne contaminants
  • spot welder — a compact welder that quickly and cleanly welds steel sheet between electrodes
  • oxy/propane torch — for joining and heating metal by hand
  • polishing motor — to finish and shine metals following their cutting, heating, and shaping
  • small engineering lathe — used to rotate metal bar and tube, which can be reduced in diameter or shaped to set sizes using various cutters or for drilling and tapping
  • grinder and linisher — to smoothen the edges and surfaces of cut metal
  • manual mill/drill — a freestanding machine with a rotating chuck which will hold various cutters and drill bits used to cut metal
  • Computer Numerical Control (CNC) plasma cutter — a computer-controlled device that cuts sheets of steel up to 600mm x 600mm x 6mm thick using a file from one of the many CAD software packages available to students
  • manual plasma cutter — a handheld plasma torch used to cut sheet metals freehand or aided by a jig
  • small gas forge — with openings on both ends, materials can be heated at one end or passed through the forge to heat central areas of the material
  • two metalwork benches with vices — to hold materials securely for shaping and cutting
  • portable extraction unit — a high-powered vacuum with and adjustable hood that can be positioned close to machines in the workshop to collect fumes and material from welding and grinding

The laser area has two A1 and one A2 laser cutters, all fitted with fume extraction units. This facility allows the user to cut and engrave designs and raster images that have been processed via the cutter software, on to a variety of materials such as wood, plywood, MDF, paper, card, acrylic sheet, and fabric.

Students can use the laser cutters following an induction session. The A1 cutters are bookable in advance via our student booking system, and the A2 cutter is available for open access.

In the 3D print room, we have:

  • six Prusa i3 fused filament printers — which heat filaments of various plastics and deposits the molten material precisely to build the model
  • multi-filament Prusa i3 printer — which uses multiple heated filaments to print, to produce a model containing several colours
  • Form2 SLA resin printer — which uses a laser to solidify photosensitive resins layer by layer through a glass plate and create complex objects in different resins, depending on the end use of the model produced
  • automatic wash station — to clean uncured resin from prints on completion
  • automatic curing station — to fully cure washed resin prints

Our Datron M8 Cube Computer Numerical Control (CNC) three-axis milling machine uses a variety of cutters to remove material and create two and three-dimensional items, such as:

  • architectural site models
  • plywood components
  • type blocks or signage from polyurethane model board
  • wood and wood-based materials
  • acrylic sheet
  • non-ferrous metals

Students prepare their files using the various Computer Aided Design (CAD) software packages available to them and send the file via our request form available on Moodle. When received, a member of the technical team will finalise the file, load this on the machine, then set up and run the machine to produce the finished model or components.

Our plastics workshop offers students the tools to heat, mould, recycle, and fashion plastics.

Specialist plastics equipment includes:

  • vacuum former — suctions softened plastics onto moulds such as model buildings, typeface, signage, and logos
  • dome blower — inflates acrylic sheet pre-heated in the digital oven into different sized domes; custom inserts may be used to create other dome shapes if required
  • hot wire cutter and hand sculptor — a heated wire used to cut and sculpt expanded polystyrene and styrofoam
  • sand blasting machine — cleans the surface of metals; students can also mask sections off to create multi-textured and 'frosted' effects on materials
  • strip heater — heats sheets of plastic along a narrow line for folding
  • digital oven — heats acrylic sheet prior to slumping over a mould, hand shaping, or use on the dome blower
  • hot air guns — accurately heats specific parts of plastic sheet or components for moulding, while still maintaining the shape of other unheated areas
  • Vinamould heating pots — thermostatically controlled heating pots used to heat reusable hot melt moulding vinyl prior to being poured over the component, which, on cooling, solidifies and forms a mould for casting
  • plastics recycling equipment — including a shredder and sheet press to repurpose old plastics and offcuts to make new sheets
  • two dedicated extraction arms — removes fumes from heated plastics from working in the space
  • fume cabinet — an extracted cabinet where fusion adhesive can safely be used to bond plastics together


Our spray booth is where users can safely use aerosol paints.

We also have compressed air spray guns for larger areas or a more professional surface finish.

Fibreglass lay-up and resin casting can also be undertaken within the spray booth. The booth is fitted with an extraction system to remove any solvent fumes in the air during use.

This is a dedicated room for small scale concrete and plaster casting by hand.

Equipment in the rooms includes:

  • mixing and dispensing area — with specialist extraction system to remove any dust created during the process
  • vibration plate — removes air in the mixture after pouring into a mould
  • drying rack — where casts and models may be left safely to dry
  • wash basin — with sediment catcher to prevent surplus concrete/plaster entering the drainage system when cleaning mixing equipment

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Where to find us

3D Workshops
Room 0.116
Eldon Building
Winston Churchill Avenue