Development of new 3D printing applications, which could transform key component manufacturing in the automotive and aerospace industries, has received a major research and development boost.
Meta Additive Ltd secured a £1.2 million Innovate UK SMART grant, with support from finance funding professional John Capper, who has now joined the company’s Board.
The funding has allowed Meta Additive, of Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, to scale up research and development of new 3D printing technology, predicted to transform how key parts are manufactured in the automotive, healthcare and aerospace sectors.
Meta Additive was founded by 3D printing pioneer Simon Scott, Dr Kate Black, a research leader in 3D printing and additive manufacturing at Liverpool University’s School of Engineering and Professor Chris Sutcliffe, an international leader in the field of additive manufacturing.
Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, is a transformative approach to industrial production with the potential to create bespoke components rapidly, cheaply and with added functionality.
Meta Additive is focused on using a chemical approach to additively manufacturing metal and ceramic components for mass manufacturing. It has already developed a number of innovative patented technologies including a binder jet printing system with unrivalled performance advantages, such as high densities and low shrinkage rate.
Based at the Sutherland Works, an historic former pottery factory, Meta Additive is on course for growth. Dr Black said the business plan envisaged the current team of six expanding to around 20 staff within three years.
Dr Black, the company’s Chief Technical Officer, said: “Meta Additive is a new University of Liverpool spin out company at the forefront of developing the next generation additive manufacturing technologies to extend 3D printing to a 4D future. Earlier examples of 3D printing are time consuming and costly to use, but we have carried-out extensive R&D to develop a binder jet process which has the potential to make the process much more efficient and useable in the manufacturing of components for everything from hip replacements to cars.
“Winning the Innovate UK grant was integral to funding research and development and we were fortunate to have John Capper on the team.
“I come from a university background and it was clear to me that gaining funding in the commercial sector was very different to grants in academia. John came in and had the ability to quickly get up to speed on both what we were going to use the funding for and the financial make-up of the business.
“John’s experience and knowledge of both finance and business sector and how to combine the skills effectively gave him the ability to guide us on the financial aspects of our business plan. He had the ability to research and explain how much development would cost and what benefits would be achieved for money spent.
“This allowed him to work on the complex figures needed to achieve a successful application for Innovate UK SMART funding.
“John’s understanding of potential markets for Meta Additive is crucial and we also found benefits from the fact that John is extremely well connected and embedded in the business community. As a result, we were delighted to welcome John onto our company Board.”
John previously worked with Simon as he developed earlier 3D printing technology.
Meta Additive is now forecasting a bright future, with sales underway within a year.
Dr Black added: “I’m from Hull, which like Stoke-on-Trent, has a reputation as a poorer UK city. Pioneering advances in additive technology will create new high worth jobs at Meta Additive and may help to retain talent from Keele and Staffordshire University in the area. I see our base at the Sutherland Works as significant as we’re developing cutting edge products on the site of an old redundant factory which was once a mainstay of UK industry. We’re also finding new uses for ceramics in manufacturing.”
Meta Additive successfully secured a £1.2M Innovate Smart grant in collaboration with The Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) and industrial partners Epivalence and Xaar. It runs alongside grant funding from Liverpool University’s Enterprise Investment Fund.