3D Prototyping with 3D Kernow

When he retired to Falmouth, instead of taking it easy, Louis Turner decided to embark on a mission to help 3D printing become more accessible in Cornwall.

3D Kernow - A Breakthrough Journey

When he retired to Falmouth, instead of taking it easy, Louis Turner decided to embark on a mission to help 3D printing become more accessible in Cornwall. Working with former Jaguar Land Rover engineer turned 3D design consultant, Steve Cox, 3D Kernow is working hard to help local businesses take advantage of this technology, whilst inspiring young people to get excited about it too.

We had a chat to Louis and Steve to find out more.

Louis, what inspired you to hold off retirement and set-up 3D Kernow?

3D Kernow Louis TannerBefore retiring, my career was as a specialist working with Asian technologies and I used to run high-level conferences in Japan, Korea and China. When I retired to Falmouth, I was asked to do an overview of 3D printing for someone in the European Union. As I produced this report I looked around and realised that there were virtually no 3D printers in Cornwall and decided to run a campaign to bring 3D printing here and that’s what I did.

I want to spread the word in Cornwall and get much more people 3D printing or understanding what 3D printing can do for them. Secondly, I want to set up a specialist consultancy using this technology that I can pass on to someone else because I’m in my 70s and then I really will have to retire for the sake of my wife!

Steve, what made you decide to leave the automotive industry and step away from managing multi-million-pound projects and into 3D printing?

I reached a certain age where it all got a bit stale. I wanted to do something new and what really excited me was 3D printing. I knew it was about to become more affordable through the use of desktop machines and having used large scale machines for rapid prototyping, as it was called then, I knew the kind of things it was capable of doing and that really excited me.

I bought a 3D printer and taught myself how to use it and then tried various business models to utilise its low volume, unique, bespoke capabilities. In the end, I found that trying to help and inspire other people to use 3D printing is a more powerful way to go. Because of my background, I understand 3D printing and I understand product design so my aim now is to really help people develop their ideas and bring them to life.

Tell us why 3D printing is so useful.

Louis: 3D printing helps prototypers – people who’ve got ideas who want to just test them out. If the design works they can go further if it doesn’t work they can tweak it immediately and reprint. 3D printing is not for producing 100,000 widgets, it’s about helping people at the early stage of prototyping.

Steve: Through my own consultancy, I’ve been working with the equine advisor to the RSPCA for about 9 months who had a concept to make horse racing fences much safer than they currently are with a view to reducing the number of fatalities. I designed and printed a number of prototypes in different sizes and these models helped demonstrate what the concept was. Other people then came up with objections and so we went back and made a tweak to the design, reprinted and then presented the solution. We literally went through that process until nobody could find fault with it and it’s now in full-size prototype form ready to start trialling.

What type of clients has 3D Kernow been working with so far?

3D KernowLouis: It’s extraordinary; you get a completely unpredictable set of people approaching you. At the moment I’m printing a job, which Steve did the design for, for someone doing a pitch for one of the major global consumer companies. They want a prototype of a container with a very complicated design which means it’s great for 3d printing and is taking about 70 hours to print.

We’ve also helped a marionette designer in Newquay who asked us to print the eye units which included an eye socket, an eyeball and an eyelid. In the past, he’s had to make these by hand which is fairly clunky and the eyeballs don’t move very easily. Steve produced the design and we printed these out. The materials cost about £2.50 and at the end of this, he had beautiful moving eyes and moving eyelids. When he took his marionettes to America, he found that his competitors were still making the eyes by hand and some have even given up having the eyes move. So for £2.50 in materials, he now has a competitive advantage over his American competitors and that’s just the sort of thing that 3D printing can do.

As part of your 3D printing mission, I know you are running workshops for local people. Tell us more about these.

Louis: We’re offering two different, one-day workshops. One is an introductory workshop for people who are coming into 3D design for the first time and the second one is for more advanced users which allows Steve to do more hands-on, one-to-one tutoring.

Steve: In the past, 3D modelling software has been very difficult to master and that’s really got to change because 3D printing has released the genie out of the bottle in terms of being able to make things really easily from 3D files. But, what you can’t do is throttle people’s innovation and creativity at the other end by making the software impossible for them to use. The introductory course is really about demystifying 3D design and making people realise that they can actually make 3D models much more easily than they might first anticipate.

If you’d like to find out more about the work that Louis and Steve are doing, take a look at the 3D Kernow website: http://www.3dkernow.org/

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