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Brave or Foolish? Fluxaxis at Develop 3D Live

If you made it to the fantastic Develop 3D Live event at Sheffield University last week, you may well have caught a talk by Tim Leigh. Tim’s a Director at the Stage One Group, a group that includes us here at Fluxaxis.

It’s almost two years since our inception and with the benefit of 23 months of hindsight, Tim’s talk reflected on the wealth of learning that lies between the expectations and reality of starting a 3D printing business. Tim talked about the somewhat unconventional route that gave rise to Fluxaxis:

‘’Most start-ups grow incrementally and grow guided by opportunities that emerge in the marketplace. Stage One adopted a more radical approach by investing in a million pounds worth of kit, starting a business called Fluxaxis and then looking for work.’’

Brave? Or foolish? Well, you might think the odds were stacked against us, but here we are – and we’re thriving. With the weight of Stage One’s digital manufacturing expertise behind us and the growth in understanding of 3D printing across all manner of industries, it looks like our timing wasn’t bad at all. But as we’ve talked about on our blogs before, what’s really interesting is the unexpected direction we’ve taken. Most of our growth has come from completely different sectors to those initially expected and our marketplace looks very different from the one we envisaged back in May 2017.

Back to Tim: ‘’We always knew Fluxaxis’s proposition offered something unique. We sought out projects in five main sectors but were surprised with the apparent polarisation – it seems either end of the industrial-creative spectrum love what we offer. Clients in the Advanced Manufacturing sector can get prototypes or functional parts quickly, while artists and designers really relish the opportunities for creativity that 3D printing offers. The middle ground in between; namely retail, brands, corporate events and the entertainment industries; are either hampered by tiny budgets or love what they see, but are not quite brave enough take the new direction. Yet.’’

We think that middle ground is about to turn a corner. Recent projects have seen us create 3D signage for a pub, a baseball helmet used in a retail campaign for a well-known brand of jeans and 3D printed masters used to create moulds for a Blood Cancer Awareness campaign. Maybe bespoke mannequins are on their way, after all? It certainly feels like interest from big brands and retail is on the up.

It also surprised us how much work has come our way from other 3D printing businesses. As Tim pointed out, bureau resource is still limited, so sharing build capacity and revenue makes sense. It’s good to share. Everyone benefits.

The response to Tim’s presentation was overwhelmingly positive. Develop 3D Live attracts a broad cross section of industry exhibitors and speakers, with breakout sessions, workshops and a welcome opportunity for honest discussion about the expectations, pit falls, nice surprises and shrewd positioning that help a young business grow. We’re two years old next month. That makes us a teenager in dog years. You won’t find us slamming any doors though, ours remain firmly open!

You can catch up with some of the talks and presentations at Develop 3D Live 2019 here.

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