Stratasys Idea Series
Stratasys Idea Series: Mojo and UPrint
Since becoming the sole provider of BEEVERYCREATIVE's BEETHEFIRST desktop 3D printer in the UK and Ireland in March, Cutwel 3D Printing has made a name for itself in the additive manufacturing arena and now this ambitious fledgling 3D printing operation is launching its own service bureau.
TCT Magazine spoke exclusively to 3D Printing and Metrology Manager Ben Hawksworth who shared in his and the business's growing 3D printing offering and what other plans the company - a stalwart of the British engineering industry - has in store in terms of 3D technologies.
"We chose to invest in Stratasys machines because they have the capability [to produce prototypes] for mechanical engineers where they'll build durable moving parts with a rather good surface finish," Hawksworth explained.
"And of course Stratasys being one of the biggest 3D printing brands in the world [was a factor]. To me they are the leading agent for 3D printing. We chose the Idea Series because the technology allows the end user a completely free-of-support end product because the material is fully soluble. Our end users are very keen to see that obviously there's no scraggy ends because it saves time trying to scrape [material] out."
Cutwel 3D Printing is not limiting itself to a target audience for its service bureau at this stage, although Hawksworth did cite product developers, engineers and the education sector as potential customers, but said that genuinely, Cutwel is happy to help anybody looking to 3D print a part to get in touch and he wants to see more people reaching out to use this technology and realise its potential.
"We're interested in anybody who wants to see their product before they have to spend the time and money machining it and to check it against the CAD model. The Idea Series can produce anything from a model of a spanner with a working ratchet through to an intricate filter. The technology is advancing throughout the industry but the Idea Series is allowing people to bring their models to life with ease."
Hawksworth has high hopes for this green enterprise. "I hope we get the return of investment from the machines and we are able to make a decent profit, as well as making a name for ourselves as a good service bureau to the end user."
"For anybody who's not really able to afford a 3D printer," he continued, "the most feasible way of getting a tangible 3D printed part is from a bureau, otherwise they have to make the investment and that's not always an option, especially if you're a one-man band."
So what's next for Cutwel's 3D printing bureau? Hawksworth explained that the venture began simply with an UP! 12 months ago, while BEETHEFIRST followed at the beginning of this year bringing the company more media attention, and the Idea Series arrived at the West Yorkshire-headquartered business more recently.
"What's next? I don't know," he stated. "We've made a valuable investment in what we have here, so let's just keep the options open and when we need more printers we'll be on the lookout. Metals, are something that engineers want ideally, so we're keeping we're not saying no to that because it's something the industry wants. But for now, we are very happy with what we can provide as a service with plastics."
Cutwel's next 3D printing venture will see the completion of a much-anticipated 3D printing showroom that will give customers the chance to see live demonstrations of all the 3D printers in the company's portfolio. It is due to be completed in early summer.