The Financial Times posted on their website today that Elgin Loanem, an irish entrepreneur plans to accelerate the acceptance of 3D printing among UK businesses.
''I want to raise awareness of what 3D printing can offer,'' Mr Loane told the Financial Times. ''London is an ideal place to begin a venture of this sort because of the concentration in the city of small businesses many of which are involved in creating new products in small volumes.''
In 3D printing, complex shapes can be made inside machines from granules of plastics or metal. The ideas promise to move in a new era of personalised manufacturing in which the barriers between design and production are greatly reduced.
Mr Loane's plan to set up workshops in city centres using this technology marks the first time an entrepreneur in the UK has attemped this sort of plan.
Eight production centres are set to open in London over the next 18 months. If his plan goes well, other facilities could be seen in Manchester or Birmingham.
Color Company, a business owned by Mr Loane will use their premises to base the new centres and each of the sites in the plan will have a £40,000, 3D printer, in addition to their existing machines used in 2D printing. The total investment by Mr Loane is estimated at around £500,000.
''Companies that want to translate a set of drawings into a product that others can see and handle find it a lot easier to do this using the kind of service that I'm planning than using existing ways (to build models from computer-generated designs),'' Mr Loane said.
Paul Priestman, director of PriestmanGoode, told the Financial Times: ''I like the idea behind this that customers can just walk in and get their products made for them. In my view the plan could work out.''
However, Gerry Burns, vice-president at ARC, a US print services businesses that has tried out a similar approach, said Mr Loane might have difficulties getting his ideas accepted by businesses.
''I've found a lot of companies need a lot of help and advice before they are ready to use this type of service. This is expensive and so it might be hard to make a venture of this sort make a profit.''