Nick Allen 3D printer
Director of 3DPRINTUK Nick Allen is one of the few people in the 3D printing industry to have become something of a celebrity. But unlike so many of the talking heads that have appeared on news bulletins and technology shows demonstrating the 'miraculous push-button revolution', Allen is refreshingly direct about what 3D printing is really capable of and where it is best put to use.
His opinions and insights, backed up by years of product development and additive manufacturing experience, are what makes him a very interesting addition to the TCT Show & Personalize speaker line up this September and Allen's slot is bound to draw a crowd.
But what is 3DPRINTUK's mastermind set to present to us in a few weeks' time?
Allen - who may be familiar to One Show viewers after appearing on the BBC One teatime broadcast in April this year - reveals that he wishes to use his first time speaking at TCT Show to delve into how attitudes and habits will affect the technology, particularly the desktop 3D printing boom that has been heralded by the mainstream media as a technological panacea.
Defining needs and directives
"I want to talk about how human nature will get in the way of the progression of domestic 3D printers. TCT Is a great platform for this [subject] due to the mix of both the high end and the low of the 3D printing sector all under one roof," he stated.
Allen feels strongly about connecting with the wider marketplace both as a businessman and designer and a self-confessed 3D printing fanatic.
"Without direct contact with your market it is difficult to define exactly what they want and what they feel. The bringing together of industry professionals and the public is important to help each other define their needs and directives," he explained.
It is likely any conversations Allen joins will be lively. Indeed, Allen will admit that although he is an ardent believer in the technology and its applications, and the developing hardware and software facilitating the 3D printing process, he will be the first to state if something is not going to work or ask why a 3D printer is being used when another manufacturing technique could produce a better finished product for that particular job.
Allen told TCT Magazine back in May: "Don't get me wrong - I love 3D printing - but we have to know what we are getting and what it's about. I don't want to tell people the same thing over and over again about 3D printing. That's definitely not the way we want to do it."
Indeed, Allen believes that it could be a case of identity crisis behind the distortion of 3D printing, as explanations always seem to get lost in translation when featured in the mainstream media.
He remarked: "Change the name back from 3D printing to additive manufacturing or rapid prototyping. Then there'll be less hype. No one is going to say 'one day there'll be a rapid prototyping machine in every home!'"
It is this kind of misrepresentation Allen is eager to tackle through his work and in his TCT Show presentation. "Because of the force of 3D printing interest, I wanted to bring people who are interested back down to earth. That's why I wanted to make a website to show everything as it develops," he said.
And 3DPRINTUK is not short of exciting developments of its own. Allen revealed the projects currently covering the worktops and computer screens at the company's Bermondsey studio in South London include commissions from Aston Martin and Hollywood blockbuster director Ridley Scott. But at the other end of the scale the team is busy helping out university students and even "crackpot inventors" with their projects. Allen is in his element in this busy, varied workplace because he relishes that fact there is something different every day and is proud of what he and his team have achieved - and the 3DPRINTUK office may well serve as an apt microcosm for the industry.
So it is unlikely the 3D printing expert will be short of an opinion or two on any aspect of the technology and its applications and the Director seems keen to try to see as much of TCT Show + Personalize as possible, particularly the makerspaces such as the RepRap Hub, which will be featured at the Show for the very first time this year.
Otherwise, when Allen is not presenting, he will be found on 3DPRINTUK's stand where the company will be demonstrating its extensive range of projects and triumphs along with his bright-eyed team of experts.