Making 3D printing an accessible tool for architects

25 November 2020

An innovative 3D printing firm has secured £100,000 in funding from Innovate UK to build an automated online platform that will drastically cut the time it takes for architects to create physical models from their digital 3D designs.

Fixie’s platform simplifies the architectural 3D printing process by eliminating the need for arduous remodelling which can currently take days to convert architects’ designs to a 3D printable version. The company, which focuses on the architectural sector, will be supported by the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) on the project.

“We started Fixie to give more architects the opportunity to benefit from rapid prototyping. Our platform means that you don’t need to have any prior knowledge to prepare your design for 3D printing - opening up the technology to those without the niche skills, time and resources,” said Ronan O’Boyle, one of the founders of Fixie.

Innovate UK, as part of UK Research and Innovation, is investing up to £191 million to fund single and collaborative research and development projects as part of the Sustainable Innovation Fund over the next two years. The aim of these competitions is to help all sectors of the UK rebuild after the effects of COVID-19.

Head of Digital at the University of Sheffield AMRC, Professor Rab Scott, said: “This is a hugely important project which is at the heart of what the AMRC has built its reputation on: transforming industry through collaborative research.

“Through the application of digital tools, architects will be able to produce digital 3D designs in hours rather than days. The development of this vital platform, increasing speed and cutting costs for the supply chain, will both enhance the sustainability of how businesses deliver for their clients and add value across the construction and built environment sector.”

This is a hugely important project which is at the heart of what the AMRC has built its reputation on: transforming industry through collaborative research.

The Sustainable Innovation Fund is funding 1,103 projects, 1189 UK businesses and totalling over £130 million in support across the UK.

Michelle Greeff, Fixie CEO, said: “This grant award recognises the potential social and economic impact of Fixie’s platform at a time when architects are rethinking how cities are used and designed. It’s an endorsement of our vision and the commitment to providing architects with tools to make practical and wider use of emerging technologies.”

Innovate UK Executive Chair Dr Ian Campbell said: “In these difficult times we have seen the best of British business innovation. The pandemic is not just a health emergency but one that impacts society and the economy.”

“Fixie, along with every initiative Innovate UK has supported through this fund, is an important step forward in driving sustainable economic development. Each one is also helping to realise the ambitions of hard-working people.”

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