As a company that specialises in industrial 3D printing for low volume manufacture and batch production, 3DPRINTUK continues to grow at an impressive rate. The London-based company is unwavering in its use of high-end 3D printing systems to bridge the significant gap that exists between prototype and injection moulding. 3DPRINTUK provides an invaluable service for a wide range and growing number of customers where tooling costs are prohibitively expensive for their product or the volume demanded by injection moulding is excessive.
According to Nick Allen, 3DPRINTUK’s CEO: “Our primary focus is absolutely low volume and batch production. As a result, we are seeing new and repeat customers using our service to manufacture their parts. We are consistently manufacturing more than 1 million parts annually and the numbers keep going up. However, because of the nature of the 3D printing processes and our focus on quality, we can produce parts in volumes of 1, 10, 100, 1000 or 10,000 parts, so we can still offer a high-quality prototyping service for our customers that are in a new product development phase. They can test and quickly iterate their parts using our service, before using the same machines for manufacture.”
The Year in View
Over the last 12 months, 3DPRINTUK has taken the company to an even higher level, not least by becoming part of the Trimech Group through acquisition by Solid Solutions. With an approach based on the premise “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” this move has solidified 3DPRINTUK’s position as a leading 3D printing service provider while extending its resources and supporting further growth.
Some key goals have been the foundation of 3DPRINTUK’s success over the last year, notably the company achieved ISO 9001 certification at the end of 2022. Quality has always been at the heart of the 3DPRINTUK service, but this certification provides reassurance to customers that the company operates at the highest levels for quality assurance and validation of 3D printed parts on a daily basis, in full compliance with the ISO 9001 standard.
Alessandro Catania, Quality and Compliance Manager at 3DPRINTUK stated at the time: “It is really gratifying after going through the extensive ISO 9001:2015 process to be notified that there are zero findings. Quality and quality assurance are a central feature of all of the manufacturing and production services that we offer. And now we can prove it. By achieving ISO 9001 certification, we can demonstrate that all of our systems, processes and procedures meet the high demands that this certification requires for all of our 3D printed parts.” Following this successful outcome, 3DPRINTUK is in the process of qualifying for ISO 14001.
Road to Net Zero
3DPRINTUK has also strived to ensure the company is run in full alignment with its stated values. Undertaking its Road to Net Zero initiative was essential to this and earlier this year, 3DPRINTUK set itself an ambitious target to become the first fully certified, net zero 3D printing bureau by the end of 2023 and to be the first 3D printing service to offset 100% of its plastic output. Achieving certified net zero is no easy task, but the company takes climate change and its impact seriously and this is the driving force behind its roadmap.
Allen went on the record, saying: “As a manufacturer of plastic parts, we cannot hide from the environmental impact of plastic on the environment. However, we also believe that plastic materials continue to offer benefits and do have a part to play in a sustainable economy. This can be seen in the way that plastics can replace some metals making parts and components that are lighter in weight.”
Just a few months later, in June, 3DPRINTUK was able to announce that it had indeed achieved certified carbon neutral status and is the first 3D printing service bureau to do so.
Some Facts and Figures
It is not all that surprising then that 3DPRINTUK has continued to experience significant growth. One independent testament to this, was 3DPRINTUK being named as one of Europe’s fastest growing companies in 2023 on the FT 1000. This appearance was based on an absolute growth rate of 171.6% over the last four years. The list also highlighted how 3DPRINTUK is the third fastest growing manufacturer in the UK.
Inside the facility, the company’s fleet of 3D printers has grown significantly and now includes 14 in-house EOS SLS machines, four HP 5210 systems and a recently installed Stratasys SAF H350 industrial 3D printer. These machines are all complemented by a full DyeMansion suite of post processing equipment, which has also expanded significantly over the last 12 months. So much so, that the company is currently in the process of expanding the facility’s footprint to 15,000 square feet, adding an additional 5,000 square feet in the form of a new building in the same location, that will become a dedicated post processing hub.
The heart of 3DPRINTUK, however, is the team of talented and experienced people that offer a wealth of expertise. This expertise is not just dedicated to running the machines for optimum, high-quality output, but also for software development and customer partnerships and liaison. The core team at 3DPRINTUK has now grown to 25 people, with sound leadership in each department.
A Broad Customer Base
The low entry cost of the 3DPRINTUK service sets it apart from other manufacturing options. With a minimum order of just £40, the service is open to a vast potential client base spanning across diverse sectors, and enabling the company to cater to a wide range of industries, as mentioned above, from volumes of 1 through to 10,000. 3DPRINTUK partners with clients working in sectors ranging from Cycling & Sport Technology to Marine & Subsea equipment; across Academia and the Creative industries; as well as Green Energy, Autonomous & Electric Vehicles, VR, Prosthetics & Robotics. The company also supplies a significant number of Design Consultancies with high end, functional prototypes and low volume production parts.
Third party testimonials are perhaps the surest way to garner understanding of how a company operates and delivers for its clients. Below are just a couple, that speak to the capabilities and capacity of the 3DPRINTUK service:
Andrew Magnier, Founder of MagCAD, has utilized the company’s service for a number of years to develop and manufacture parts for his cycling business: “3DPRINTUK’s instant online pricing model showed us that its costs were very competitive and would scale well with our business. Initial test runs also demonstrated that the quality of parts is outstanding and the 3DPRINTUK team is very communicative and knowledgeable.” MagCAD now regularly places repeat orders for production parts.”
Jeremy Sitbon, Chief Robotics Engineer – Marine Robotics Systems at ecoSUB Robotics also regularly use the 3DPRINTUK service for the production of some key parts for their underwater, autonomous vehicles. He said, “We are constantly on the look-out for the most cost-effective 3D printing solution for our underwater vehicles, but we cannot compromise on quality at all…. We will continue to use 3DPRINTUK as we have not found an on-line ordering system that comes close to theirs in terms of ease-of-use, and the team has an enormous depth of knowledge in material selection, DfAM, and print optimisation that benefits us on every level.”
The future is looking bright for 3DPRINTUK with continued growth and strengthened client partnerships for production applications featured high on the agenda.