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UK second-best in Europe for 3D printing

New research shows that the UK is one of the best countries in the world for 3D printing - and a £20 million facility has just opened near Liverpool.

New research shows that the UK is one of the best countries in the world for 3D printing - and a £20 million facility has just opened near Liverpool.

Commissioned by Hewlett Packard (HP), the research shows that the UK is second only to Germany in Europe as the best-placed country to adopt 3D printing, and fifth globally overall.

Also known as Additive Manufacturing (AM), 3D printing is a computer-aided process of adding layer-upon-layer of material to create an object - the opposite of conventional ‘subtractive’ manufacturing.

The technology means parts can be built on-demand, in small batches and with much less material than conventional manufacturing.

LPW Technology, a company which specialises in manufacturing metal powders for 3D metal printing, has just opened a new 90,000sq ft, £20 million facility in Widnes.

In response to HP’s research findings, the All-Party Parliamentary Manufacturing Group (APMG), a cross-party coalition of MPs and manufacturing organisations, met in June to explore how to spread adoption from early adopters into the mainstream.

A number of barriers to adoption were identified by the group. For example, it was argued that there are not enough people at director-level who “truly grasp” the benefits of the technology.

In a statement, the APMG said:

“3D printing presents a range of exciting futures for manufacturing in the UK, and on an international stage the UK is a serious player in the sector with a strong combination of start-up activity and academic excellence.

“3D printing holds the prospect of re-shoring British manufacturing, reducing carbon dioxide emissions and transforming manufacturing to an on-demand service.”

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