Four people who work with Vikela standing in a row.
Vikela team members Robert Stewart, Rose Winter, Jenny Gregg and Peter Gilleece. Image: Darren Kidd

Belfast 3D printing start-up Vikela to create up to 30 new jobs

26 Oct 2023

Vikela is looking for highly skilled people to help it scale and expand its body armour manufacturing in Northern Ireland.

Vikela, a body armour start-up that uses 3D printing tech, is looking to grow its team as it scales up its operation in Northern Ireland. The company currently employs fewer than 10 people and it is aiming to create up to 30 highly skilled jobs as it expands.

Its leader, mechanical engineer Peter Gilleece, won the top prize at Invent 2022, a competition for innovative start-ups in Northern Ireland. He scooped funding of £26,000 to reinvest in his company. Vikela was originally set up to develop a new type of body armour product that provides better protection than alternatives.

That product is called Apis stab protection and it is made using 3D printing instead of the traditional ceramic plate manufacturing method, which is both time-consuming and not very sustainable.

“In the real world, nothing is absolutely bulletproof,” Gilleece said. “The Kevlar-made bulletproof vests are actually bullet-resistant and graded to a specific level of protection according to international standards for ballistic resistance, but Vikela is committed to exceeding existing testing standards to offer enhanced protection compared to what’s out there at present.”

When Gilleece was named the winner of Invent 2022, he said that within five years the company hoped to begin working on the next evolution of its armour. Currently, he is looking for investors to come on board so Vikela can up its manufacturing output and continue its expansion.

“Profitability is imminent once production is underway and we have our eyes on the global defence sector, which is long overdue innovations that not only offer better protection to users but align with sustainability goals that are crucial in today’s working world,” said Gilleece.

“We’re committed to manufacturing and growing in Northern Ireland, creating high-skilled jobs at all levels,” he added.

Gilleece is confident that Vikela will secure investment to create these new jobs and scale its output. It plans to develop and manufacture a range of ballistic protective products, called Tyrella, in the coming months and years. Further down the line, it has ambitions to move into motor vehicle parts and sports protective gear.

More information and contact details for Vikela can be found on its website.

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea joined Silicon Republic in 2021 as Careers reporter, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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