Pioneering 3D print firm secures £860k

A BURNLEY firm which is pioneering the use of 3D printing to produce made-to-measure insoles for the NHS has attracted an £860,000 investment.

FDM Digital Solutions has secured the equity investment from the European Union-backed North West Fund for Venture Capital and Lancashire’s Rosebud Fund.
 
It will use the cash to invest in a 3D system that will allow hospitals to scan a patient’s foot and email it to the company, which will then print and deliver insoles within 48 hours.

The company said the process could revolutionise the way the NHS buys orthotics and other products.
 
FDM, which has partnered with East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust and the University of Salford, has already won grants totaling almost £1m from the Technology Strategy Board and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to help develop the supply chain.

FDM was established in 2011 by James Saunders and Graeme Bond and also manufactures components for the aerospace, engineering, automotive and motor sports industries.

Lancashire County Council’s Rosebud Fund has provided £172,000 while The North West Fund has invested £688,000. Both funds are managed by Enterprise Ventures.
 
Mr Saunders said: “This new system could improve quality and reduce consultants’ time. It’s great that Rosebud and The North West Fund for Venture Capital have seen its potential and are backing our vision. 3D printing could transform supply chains in the NHS and other industries. We will become the leading centre of excellence for this new technology in the North West.”
 
Doug Stellman of Enterprise Ventures said: “3D printing allows a radically different approach to manufacturing as can be seen from the healthy order flow being generated from their existing customer base. The technology that FDM is now proposing for orthotics allows the shape and properties of the materials be varied to match the patient’s exact needs, as well as pioneering a new lean supply chain model which can be applied throughout the NHS.”

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