Despite the fact the Government has avoided the triple-dip recession, the British economy remains under strain as companies struggle to grow.
Tighter lending regulations imposed on banks has meant many businesses and start-ups - including those in the 3D printing industry - have failed to expand their operations in recent years.
However, leading business lobby group the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has encouraged individuals and firms to think laterally about finding funding in a bid to expand - which is essential for restoring the country to a state of economic stability and growth.
The CBI is calling on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to consider the broader range of financial options available to them in order to help them realise their potential - including peer-to-peer lending, equity investment and asset-based lending.
As such, the CBI has launched a new alternative financial guide entitled Ripe for the Picking, which highlights research showing that high-growth medium-sized firms could be worth up to £20 billion more to the economy by 2020.
This comes as a report from GE Capital showed that SMEs are planning to spend £51 billion over the coming year, but will need the right financial support to achieve their goals.
3D printing already has a strong alternative-funded foundation. Many 3D printing companies have succeeded in achieving their growth targets thanks to alternative funding, including iMakr - which was venture capital-funded - while the Form 1 3D printer by Formlabs and the 3Doodler both benefited from Kickstarter crowd funding.
Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, supports the scheme and commented: "The CBI's guide will help raise awareness of the different types of finance available, and how alternative credit channels can introduce more competition to give SMEs choice."
He noted that the Government wants to see a shift in the market structure towards non-bank lending. Moreover, through the business bank the Coalition is deploying £300 million of the £1 billion allocated to the initiative to invest alongside the private sector in new entrants and the growth of smaller lenders.
"Britain's businesses cannot grow, export and innovate without proper access to bank credit. But they also need alternatives when looking for finance, as a traditional bank loan might not always be the answer," Dr Cable stated.
The CBI has revealed that UK banks are the source of nearly 80 per cent of all credit to burgeoning companies, but the financial crisis has put the UK on an "irreversible path to a new normal in financing".
Balance sheet restructuring, regulatory reform and a more realistic pricing of risk means that traditional bank debt will no longer be the correct funding for all businesses.
CBI Chief Policy Director Katja Hall said: "The UK's small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of our economy so ensuring they can access the capital they need to grow and create jobs is critical.
"Banks will continue to be a vital source of finance but it's not a one-size-fits-all solution, and we're encouraging growing firms to open their eyes to the broad range of funding options on the market."
The CBI alternative financing guide therefore highlights some of the other choices available besides banks, including; asset-based lending, online invoice trading platforms, trade finance, peer-to-peer and crowd funding, supply chain finance, retail bond market, self-issued retail bonds, private placements, public equity markets, private equity, The Business Growth Fund, Business Angels and venture capital.
"Growing businesses could look to corporate venturing, for example, or to issue retail bonds, like Hotel Chocolat did with its innovative chocolate bonds," Ms Hall added.