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UK supply chains beyond Brexit and COVID-19: the example of 3DPRINTUK

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Even before Brexit and COVID-19, 3DPRINTUK, along with many other companies, started to make preparations to ensure that its international clients continued to receive the same standard of service that they had become accustomed to, despite increasing uncertainty at the British border and customs issues.

Whether because of the vagaries of Brexit, or because of the intense scrutiny that supply chains have come under due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, many manufacturers find themselves in a state of flux, and there is a tangible move across the industry to localize production where possible while at the same time maintaining timeliness, cost-effectiveness, and quality of production.

Such situations can be catastrophic and have caused numerous manufacturers to select UK-based production services. The government was nothing if not persistent in its appeals to businesses to prepare for the inevitable changes that would take place once Brexit was a done deal rather than simply an approaching date.

Three months after the January Brexit date, there continues to be particular concern about road freight for international orders. To mitigate these delays at customs and to ensure reliable international deliveries during this period, 3DPRINTUK, for example, stopped all road freight and instead, all orders were and still are fulfilled by UPS Express until things settle.

For clients based within Great Britain, there has been little to no disruption as 3DPRINTUK provides service as normal from its facilities in London, and is in close communication with its couriers who are confident that services will operate as expected. For any clients in Northern Ireland or Eire, 3DPRINTUK will also use UPS Express to avoid delays at what is effectively negotiated as a UK border in the Irish Sea. UK supply chains beyond Brexit and COVID-19: the example of 3DPRINTUK

3DPRINTUK has direct experience of how this may work from one of its customers, Qontrol, based in Bristol UK. Qontrol makes instruments for use in quantum science R&D, with a mission to make controlling complex photonic devices. The company uses 3D printing throughout the design cycle, from prototyping through to production, and is a recent convert to 3DPRINTUK which it now uses to produce its custom electronic enclosures and mechanical parts to support its products. One key attraction is that 3DPRINTUK offers both selective laser sintering (SLS) and Multi-Jet Fusion (MJF). The team at Qontrol prefers SLS parts for their tactile feel and on-brand dye colorings but finds that MJF parts tend to be cheaper and more reproducible.

But playing to the Brexit theme, the reason that Qontrol made the initial move to 3DPRINTUK is one that other companies in a similar position might recognize. Dr. Josh Silverstone, Qontrol’s CTO, explains. “We have been long-time regular customers of a continental-European print service. Very simply, we needed to place an urgent order with them just before Christmas 2020, and they refused it down to uncertainty around Brexit. Looking for alternatives, we stumbled on 3DPRINTUK, and we couldn’t be happier. 3DPRINTUK’s parts are at least as high-quality as our old supplier, with very competitive pricing and generally faster turn- around, without the new Brexit customs headaches. We’ve decided to use them as our main 3D printer, going forward, and we hope they keep up the good work”

Composites AM 2024

746 composites AM companies individually surveyed and studied. Core composites AM market generated over $785 million in 2023. Market expected to grow to $7.8 billion by 2033 at 25.8% CAGR. This new...

Andrea Gambini

Andrea has always loved reading and writing. He started working in an editorial office as a sports journalist in 2008, then the passion for journalism and for the world of communication in general, allowed him to greatly expand his interests, leading to several years of collaborations with several popular online newspapers. Andrea then approached 3D printing, impressed by the great potential of this new technology, which day after the day pushed him to learn more and more about what he considers a real revolution that will soon be felt in many fields of our daily life.

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