Driving innovation through investment in cutting-edge facilities and technology
eligibility checklist


Get in touch to make an enquiry about The North West Fund. 

Read more
eligibility checklist


Visit our business support page for useful links to other local, regional and national support organisations.

Read more

At the forefront of innovation in 3D printing

Fund: Venture Capital

Burnley-based, FDM Digital Solutions is pioneering the use of 3D printing for manufacturing in aerospace, engineering, automotive and other sectors, as well as made-to-measure insoles for the NHS...

Having won a £1.4 million grant from Innovate UK for the insoles project, along with partners at the University of Salford, Salford Insole and East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, the company secured an £860,000 investment from The North West Fund for Venture Capital and Lancashire's Rosebud Finance in 2013 and received a further £300,000 from the two funds in 2015. This finance has allowed the company to expand its print capacity to meet rapid growth in sales from the other sectors that it operates in.

Founded in 2012, FDM Digital now employs twelve staff and industry consultants working with leading global engineering companies to identify new uses for 3D printing. The investment has been used to put in place some of the largest capacity and most up-to-date 3D printers in the UK, including ones capable of printing items up to 1 metre in size. Using the latest 3D print and scanning technology FDM Digital can capture data from any shape and use it to create, or recreate, bespoke items. 

Working with leading aerospace and automotive customers the company is now at the forefront of designing and manufacturing innovative high performance parts. A single piece 3D printed part can now replace multiple complex traditional parts, allowing previously un-manufacturable shapes to be produced from innovative materials, in a single operation that offers weight, time and cost savings, and delivers higher performance. In addition the direct to digital print on demand technology delivers the ultimate lean supply chain.

Graeme Bond, the company's CEO, said: "The funding we have received has put us ahead of the field by allowing us to invest in the very latest technology. We are committed to driving the uptake of digital manufacturing technology across UK industry. We have developed a wide customer base with significant export sales and we are demonstrating that the key is working closely with customers to educate them on the benefits."

For the NHS the technology should replace traditional hand-made techniques and could revolutionise the way the NHS buys orthotics and other products. Hospitals will be able to scan a patient's foot shape and email the company, where the team will then print and dispatch insoles to the exact specification within hours as opposed to the multi-week process currently used. 



Back to article list