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Cutwel announces it is to be the sole UK supplier of BeeVeryCreative's BeeTheFirst 3D printer.
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Long-standing cutting tool supplier Cutwel is something of a stalwart in the UK engineering industry, but as the company approaches its 20th birthday, it is far from set in its ways.
TCT Magazine spoke to Cutwel's Ben Hawksworth, who is proud to reveal the company is making significant in-roads into the burgeoning British additive manufacturing marketplace on the back of a major deal with Portuguese 3D printing developer BEEVERYCREATIVE.
Hawksworth is the company's 3D Printing and Metrology Manager and was delighted to break the news that Cutwel is now the sole supplier for BEEVERYCREATIVE 3D printers in the UK and Ireland. The agreement was signed off in early March and the official announcement was made on March 14th 2014 via social media.
Hawksworth attended the 3D Print Show in London in late 2013 with Cutwel Managing Director Paul Hawksworth, his father, where - in spite of the range of 3D printing machines on display - the BEETHEFIRST caught their eye.
"We just stumbled upon them and saw the printer - it's very exciting. It's very different but outstanding compared to what you usually see. It's attractive - the design and the neatness of it - and the way it illuminates. The spools are a lot more compact than standard and are fitted inside the printer, but it's all open, very neat and a well-made design," Hawksworth said.
Talks began shortly after, culminating in the meeting between Cutwel and BEEVERYCREATIVE at their West Yorkshire headquarters this month. But what attracted BEEVERYCREATIVE to Cutwel enough to sign the deal?
"I think it's the way we operate," Hawksworth mused. "We have a unique business operation here. We're predominantly a cutting and engineering tools supplier and we've been in business for a total of 27 years, with Cutwel itself being in business since 1996. We are passionate about 3D printing and have been looking at this technology for over a year but we are already known in the engineering industry."
"Some people might be wondering where we're at with 3D printing," he continued, "but we've been biding our time to invest in 3D printing and we've decided now is the time. This deal shows the public that we're committed to 3D printing. This is such an exciting opportunity for us and we're now a big part of the 3D printing revolution with BEEVERYCREATIVE."
Hawksworth explained how 3D printing is being incorporated into Cutwel's vast 26,500 sq ft of warehouse, where a dedicated mezzanine level of around 2,500 sq ft will be set up especially for 3D printing and will include the facilities for a service bureau.
Solidworks-trained Hawksworth's enthusiasm for 3D printing has undoubtedly paved the way for this interesting venture for Cutwel. In January 2013 he and Paul started to research the market in earnest, bringing an initial batch of Up desktop 3D printers, but the business recognised a gap in the market that could be filled by providing high-performing products, which is why BEEVERYCREATIVE's slick machine appealed.
"We'll still have our Ups, our TierTime ranges … but this is the big one," Hawksworth stated. "I do have my work cut out here, though. I'm also a metrology manager but I focus my time on 3D printing and it is great to be given the opportunity to follow what I am passionate about.
Cutwel's target market is wide, with engineers and product developers looking for impressive rapid prototyping technology at one end, and schools at the other, with cracking the education market branded "the biggest thing" on Cutwel's list of what it hopes to achieve with this venture.
Nevertheless, Hawksworth was reluctant to pin down too many exact target markets for their new BEETHEFIRST range, "we don't want to restrict the market in any way", he stated.