‘A massive grant made my business’

Joseph Crabtree, of Additive Manufacturing Technologies, with his Postpro3D automated finishing machine.
Joseph Crabtree, of Additive Manufacturing Technologies, with his Postpro3D automated finishing machine.

A Sheffield firm has received a £420,000 grant to develop a pioneering machine to smooth 3D printed parts - just one of a string of local companies to receive massive grants from Innovate UK.

Most 3D printed parts have a rough finish and up to now companies have used hand polishing to finish them off, which is costly and time consuming.

Additive Manufacturing Technologies overcomes this with a fully automated smoothing process.

Its machine is called Postpro3D and can tackle printed products ranging from sports shoes to dental implants.

The firm received a huge grant from Innovate UK, a Government body which ‘drives productivity and growth by helping firms develop ideas and make them a commercial success’.

Here, AMT boss Joseph Crabtree talks about the process.

How much did you receive?

The total grant was for £624,000. AMT is the lead company with a partner, Xaar Ltd. We get around £420,000.

How long did the application process take?

You are given around two months to prepare the application. It is quite specific – there are word-limited answers to each question that require specific answers. They are marked by several examiners. The company with the highest score gets an IUK award. It is a very transparent process. IUK also provides feedback. It takes about three months for the awards to be announced.

The process is extremely simple and straightforward. The biggest challenge is explaining complex technical or commercial issues in a few hundred words and without diagrams!

What difference has it made to your business?

IUK has made our company because it has allowed us the breathing space to develop a world class product and to lead the world in field of post processing 3D polymer parts. Our PostPro3D machine is the first of its kind and has already led to awards.

Did it come with many ‘strings’ or targets?

You have to set out a project plan and budget. You are expected to stick to both. Your accounts are audited and you are required to have quarterly meetings to report on progress and spend.

Was it worth it?

Absolutely, InnovateUK is a great Government scheme that really helps start-ups like ourselves. It is taxpayers’ money well spent. We have created four jobs since we were awarded the project and developed a world class product – that would have been difficult without IUK. It has also help us win new investment.