24th Apr 2014: “3D Printing & Digital Manufacture”

Dr Letizia Mortara
Dr Letizia Mortara

Dr Letizia Mortara from The Centre for Technology Management, IfM, University of Cambridge talked passionately about Additive Manufacturing [AM], its potential and her research.  AM is a process using liquids, solids and powder to create a layered object using a printer. It can produce complex designs using low volume sustainable distributed production. It was invented in the 1960s, commercialised in the 80s, in production in 2000 and in 2013 100k production units were sold. The technology offers opportunities to established industries such as aerospace, medical, pharma, construction, arts and archaeology, automotive and heavy industry. Benefits are cost reduction, easier processes etc. Tesco wants to use it for replacement of broken components in their operation; medical uses are for hearing aids, dental plates, prostheses, organs. Currently the market size is small but huge growth is projected. Look at www.makerbot.com/thingiverse

David Smith
David Smith

David Smith from The Technology Partnership [TTP] talked about where next for 3D printing using the TTP Vista inkjet?  Vista offers the possibility of distributed design and manufacturing reducing the need for mass manufacture and customised product design. He drew a comparison between Vista and the generic 3D printer.

3D Printer


Laser- quality high but expensive: Inkjet - low quality and cost but popular Good quality low cost print heads
Extrusion – medium quality and cost Prints using a wide variety of materials and inks
Electronic beam used is high quality and expensive No restrictions behind nozzles, reliable and self-cleans

Vista can print on a wide range of materials inc glass and ceramics, metals etc and offers high benefits to users. It is in prototype stage but he sees big opportunities are out there in the marketplace.

Roberta Lucca
Roberta Lucca

Roberta Lucca from Bossa Studios talked excitedly about her disruptive business using 3D printing. Her brand is www.wonderluk.com where you can see the fashion items she has designed.

Her aim is to make fashion personal and fight the issue that fashion accessories are designed in Europe and North America and made cheaply in China.

Her drive, she describes as co-creation allowing users to manufacture locally in small production runs. She is supported by The London College of Fashion and in 3 years she has grown to 30 employees with sales targeted at £5m. Note her own design red bracelet.

and her designs
...and her designs
and her shoes
...and her shoes






It really was a cracking, fun evening with eyes opened for many in the audience. It reinforced the maxim that to succeed you have to be passionate about your beliefs and ideas.