Confirm research centre launches new digital manufacturing facility

11 Dec 2020

Exterior of the new Confirm manufacturing research centre at UL. Image: Sean Curtin/True Media

The SFI smart manufacturing research centre, Confirm, has launched its new digital manufacturing site and HQ in Limerick.

The University of Limerick (UL) will be home to the new digital manufacturing site and headquarters of the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) smart manufacturing research centre, Confirm. The new 1,619 sq m site comes following a €3.1m investment from UL and a virtual launch took place today (11 December).

The new facility includes a large testbed to house Ireland’s future factory demonstrators, an eight-metre diameter virtual reality cave, 10Gbps internet access, the first 5G digital manufacturing network in Ireland and a digital manufacturing lab to include 3D printing and non-contact 3D part scanning.

Confirm said the facility will be the centrepiece of its research network and will connect researchers, industry partners and the general public to help raise the profile of manufacturing in Ireland and internationally.

Launched in 2017, Confirm now spans nine Irish higher education institutes led by UL. These include the Tyndall National Institute, University College Cork, Cork IT, NUI Galway, Athlone IT, Maynooth University, Limerick IT and the IT Tralee, along with researchers in international institutions.

To date, Confirm has secured €47m in research from industry, Government and from non-exchequer sources. The research centre hosts 130 researchers and 12 operational and management staff, and will be adding some new positions in the coming months.

Wide-angle shot of the interior of the new Confirm manufacturing research centre.

Interior of the new Confirm manufacturing research centre. Image: Keith Wiseman

‘An important hub’

Speaking at the virtual launch, Confirm director Conor McCarthy said: “Confirm is about helping industry make the right manufacturing decisions by developing new technologies based on fundamental manufacturing science principles, thus leading to major economic, societal and environmental impact.

“[The new] Confirm headquarters is designed around this theme, and we brought together the best elements of both national and international manufacturing centres of excellence to result in a truly world-class research facility to support Ireland in its journey to become a leading digital manufacturing powerhouse globally.”

Congratulating Confirm on the opening of its new facilities, the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris, TD, said: “The opening of the Confirm SFI Research Centre’s new digital HQ provides an important hub for digital and smart manufacturing in Ireland, which will support the transformation of industry through excellent research, providing for our future skills needs in this important sector and enabling the general public to see the future of manufacturing.”

SFI director general Prof Mark Ferguson said the facility will be the “hub for delivering excellent research, developing future talent through vital training and supporting industry by providing access to expertise in the area of smart and digital manufacturing”.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic