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An Interview with Paul Hiscoe, Co-Founder of 3D Print World, Aylesbury

As the world of 3D printing continues to explode and more and more establishments are being founded, we are always on the lookout to capture information about the happenings and report on them. We recently had the chance to speak to Paul Hiscoe, one of the co-founders of 3D Print World, Aylesbury, UK whose business was awarded a grant from their local district council to develop and promote this emerging technology. The interview was conducted via email, and the transcript is here below.

1) How and when did you decide to get into 3-D printing? What is it from your background that led you to this point?
I realised that the price point for the devices was reaching the area which enabled the technology to be affordable to the average consumer. In my 35 years in the IT industry I have seen many technology cycles. I realised that this one felt very much like the few years before the IBM PC came out. Lots of hobbyists and early phase adopters, but the average consumer needs help to effectively use the technology.

2) When was your 3D Print World in Aylesbury established and what made you decide to partner with Cartridge World?
I set up the company with the owners of Aylesbury Cartridge World in July 2014. I already knew the owners and they were looking for a natural extension to their existing business.

3) What types of printers and do you sell at 3D Print World? Are they all pretty much units that use FDM/FFF? Also, what types of filament (ABS, PLA, PVA, etc.)?
We sell a very limited range and always will. We only sell printers that we know (and love) ourselves. At the moment we hold stock of the BQ range.

Starting with the Haephestos which although a reprap kit, is the most consumer-like kit you can buy. Really easy to assemble and excellent results. It starts at £399 in kit form, or we’ll deliver it assembled it for you for £499. For school, office and light industrial use, the Witbox is a really reliable workhorse.

We’re currently evaluating a desktop and and all-in-on unit. If we’re happy with their usability and performance we hope to introduce them in the near future.

We mainly use PLA, although occasionally make things for people in ABS.

4) What other services, if any, related to 3D Printing do you offer at your store?
We make things for people, we service printers on site.

5) Who is your target audience there in Aylesbury? Businesses, consumers, hobbyists, etc.?
Aylesbury is actually the centre of quite a high-tech area. Many of the Formula 1 teams are based around here as we are close to the Silverstone racetrack. Also Pinewood studios and many innovative SME’s are closely. We’re looking to help SME business, consumers, hobbyists and schools.

6) When did you find out about this grant and what made you decide to apply? Was it a competition where you were against others stores/businesses pitching ideas?
We were already working with the local council to help put together the schools competition. They suggested, we applied. It’s not a competition with other businesses as such. They award grants to worthy causes based on available funds.

7) Since you were awarded this grant, have you noticed at all an uptick in your business or an increase in the interest towards the technology?
We’re way ahead of our revenue targets and have found fantastic interest locally. A lot of this is word of mouth and of course the endorsement of the Local Authority was a factor.

8) In the article in the Bucks Herald, it mentions as part of the grant you will be providing training to Bucks UTC students. Are you and your staff taking your equipment to the college and teaching yourself? Are you incentivising the students with special deals on your printers/kits?
Yes, we provide the equipment for the students to build. The course is taught by the University staff with our technical people assisting. If a student buys a printer then they get a discount on the course.

9) How long is the grant good for and when does the money have to be spent? After the initial funding is gone, will you be able to apply for more assistance to keep the programs going?
The funds can be spend anytime within reason. We also received a grant from the Local Enterprise Partnership but found the council one to be much more flexible. My understanding is that we could apply in the future if we embark upon a new phase which meets the grants objectives—promoting local business and creating employment.

10) Given the explosion in the industry, what do you see from it in the next 5-10 years? Will it continue to become more crowded and do you think we will reach a point where it becomes commonplace for everyday consumers to have a 3-D printer in their house?
In around 5 years we expect the technology to have matured and 3D printers will be commonplace in many homes. But we also expect the industry to consolidate. In the meantime the added value is the expertise we have to help people get started whilst the technology develops. It’s a great reason for consumers to go back to the high street as they need to talk to experts, touch and feel the products.