Lauded alongside the likes of cars, airplanes, telephones, radio, and television as greatest inventions of all time, it was the invention that kick-started the industrial revolution.

After almost a decade of false starts, the steam engine was finally perfected by pioneering Scots inventor James Watt in the mid-1780s, with help from Matthew Boulton.

From mines to mills, steam engines found many uses across a variety of industries. Early mills had run successfully with water power, but by using a steam engine a factory could be located anywhere.

Now, two centuries after Watt’s death, and more than 240 years after the steam engine’s inception, a team of University of Glasgow students have brought one of his greatest creations back to life.

The students spent five months putting together the 3D-printed scale model of the Boulton-Watt steam engine.

The School of Engineering’s JetX student society’s model, which is about a metre in length, uses more than 800 parts.

The creation, which is the largest additively manufactured working model of this design, features more than 150 3D-printed parts and took a whopping 845 hours to print the 3D design – consuming more than 2.2km of printing filament in the process.

The unique model will be on display at the University Library from today as part of a public exhibition which explores Watt’s legacy.

The original model was run on steam but the student’s replica uses an additional gear to move itself and demonstrate the engine’s range of motion at the touch of a button.

Chris Triantafyllou, president of JetX, led on the design and construction of the model.

“The past five months have been very busy but we’re really pleased with the final model,” he said. “The whole building process utilised a lot of design and prototyping practices we’ve learned throughout the years of developing jet engine models.

“The University of Glasgow is rightly proud of its association with James Watt, and his legacy helps make it an inspiring place to study.

“We’re glad we’ve had the chance to contribute to the University’s 200th anniversary celebrations, and we hope that visitors to the exhibition in the library get as much enjoyment out of it as we do.”

Watt was working as an instrument-maker at the University of Glasgow when, in 1765, he made improvements to a Newcomen steam engine.

He added a separate condenser which made it more efficient and his insights helped kick-start the industrial revolution and create the modern world.

Professor Colin McInnes, who holds the University’s James Watt Chair, said: “The JetX team have achieved something remarkable with the construction of this model, which is a fitting tribute to the vision of James Watt in this bicentenary year.

“The engine is stunning, and credit to JetX for their imagination, dedication and diligence, not just in this project but also in their self-directed jet engine designs.

“The School of Engineering is keen to instil in students the importance of creative thinking in engineering, and JetX are a prime example of how creativity can inspire exciting new projects.”

He added: “We at the university are immensely proud of our association with James Watt, a truly world-changing engineer, and we’re pleased to be celebrating his legacy two centuries later with events at the university and at the Glasgow Science Festival.

“Our James Watt Symposium and RSE/RAEng James Watt Lecture public lecture will demonstrate the degree to which engineering has progressed since Watt’s time, how engineering shapes our everyday lives and how it will continue to shape our future.

“We hope that the people of Glasgow will join us in delving into his work and achievements this June and come to appreciate more deeply the extent to which we’re living in a world created by his engineering breakthroughs.”

Since the society was established in 2014, its members have successfully completed two sub-scale testing models which include real-time monitoring systems, and formed a partnership with the University of Sheffield’s Control, Monitoring & Systems Engineering University Technology Centre.

The13th annual Glasgow Science Festival, which also begins today, is also themed Glasgow STEAMS ahead in honour of Watt, and will feature numerous Watt-related events during its run until June 16.

Dr Deborah McNeill, director of the Glasgow Science Festival, said: “Our 2019 theme, ‘Glasgow STEAMS Ahead’, is a nod to the legacy of James Watt, but also the fantastic Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics and Social Science that keeps Scotland innovative today.”