One of the UK’s Premier 3D Printing Service Providers

Malcolm Nicholls Limited have provided a UK 3D printing service with professional in-house machines since 1996. In the 20+ years since the istallation of our first machine, we have managed 3D printing projects for design houses & product development divisions of small to large companies for all market sectors.

We offer a managed service for large capacity SLA (Stereolithography), fine powder SLS (Selective Laser Sintering), a multitude of material FDM (Fused Deposition Modelling) parts as well as full colour 3D prints. Our technology consultants offer fantastic advice, matched to your requirements.

10 Reasons to choose MNL

Offering all plastic 3D printing technologies, UK 3D printing service experts for over 20 years and an enviable reputation are not the only reasons to choose Malcolm Nicholls Limited …

MNLs 3D Printing Technology Consulants provide uk 3d printing service advice

(1) Advice on Processes & Materials

Our Technology Consultants will advise on the best processes and materials for your requirements.

MNL - 3D Printing Model Makers

(2) 3D Printing Model Makers

Model makers since 1971 using in-house 3D printers, we have offered a 3D printing service for the last 21 tears. MNL understand the requirements of designers and product development divisions.

MNL have one of the largest capacities of the UK 3D printing service providers.

(3) Large Capacity Professional Machines

Large build envelopes, all plastic 3D printing technologies and high speed machines, offering an accurate, fast and efficient UK 3D printing service.

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(4) Quality Guarantee

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(5) Professional Service Provider

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(6) Confidential Service

(7) Competitively Priced 3-Tier Costing System

  • Premium Production Route 87.5%
  • Standard Production Route 70%
  • Budget Production Route 56%
3D Printer Fail

(8) Save the Hassle

Reduce the risk of failure and save the hassle of owning and maintaining your own 3D printers.

(9) Additional Follow on Product Development Services

  • Full Paint Spraying and Finishing Service
  • Comprehensive Vacuum Casting Department
  • The Personal Touch that Family Business brings

(10) Reduce the risk out of using a networked provider

The idea of a network or hub of suppliers is fine, but …
Do you really know how reliable they are?
Do you know how confidential they are?
Have they got multiple machines as a backup?
At MNL, your UK 3D printing service provider, we have got all the above covered and more.

MNL Utilise All of the Main Plastic 3D Printing Technologies

Here you will find examples of their work categorised by specific 3D printing technologies:

How MNL Add Value to 3D Printing

In addition to printing parts on their professional machines; We also offer many additional downstream processes to greatly enhance your models and prototypes.

Here you will find examples of the work where we have helped to make the following model types:

What Market Sectors Benefit From 3D Printing and Rapid Prototyping?

Here you will find examples of work we have produced in the following market sectors:

Aerospace related 3D Printing and Prototyping Case Studies

Aerospace

Our 3D printed prototypes have been used to speed up flight testing, which has helped to reduce the risk of costly design errors and oversights.

Architecture related 3D Printing and Prototyping Case Studies

Architectural

Our 3D printed scale models have proved valuable in communicating ideas to clients and ensuring that innovative designs are viable and structurally sound.

Automotive related 3D Printing and Prototyping Case Studies

Automotive

From concept cars to detailed engineering, our functional, 3D printed prototypes have supported the development and testing of advanced automotive solutions.

Food and Drink related 3D Printing and Prototyping Case Studies

Food & Drink

Our 3D printed models have been building and enhancing brand names in the food and drinks markets for most of our 40+ year history.

Art Fashion TV and Film related 3D Printing and Prototyping Case Studies

Art, Fashion, TV & Film

Our unique approach to additive manufacturing has produced supreme examples of work that have supported Art, Fashion, TV and Film for 40+ years.

Medical related 3D Printing and Prototyping Case Studies

Medical

Our 3D printed models have been used as teaching aids, replacement parts and to support the development of medical equipment that improves patient care.

MOD related 3D Printing and Prototyping Case Studies

MOD

Stringent testing is essential for any equipment that has to perform in the toughest environments; We 3D print robust prototypes to suit the harsh environment.

Engineering related 3D Printing and Prototyping Case Studies

Engineering

Providing engineers with solutions to their development issues whether it be using trad model making techniques, various 3D printing tech or a hybrid of any of the above.

Sports and Leisure related 3D Printing and Prototyping Case Studies

Sports and Leisure

From gaining the competitive edge to increasing safety and all ability participation, 3D printed models and prototypes have supported product dev from concept to product.

Packaging related 3D Printing and Prototyping Case Studies

Packaging

Just as FMCG packaging design is integral to the whole experience of consumer goods, 3D printing prototypes and models to showcase those designs is equally important.

Consumer Goods related 3D Printing and Prototyping Case Studies

Consumer Goods

We have 3D printed models and prototypes with wow factor finishes and sexy curves that underpin the very essence of alluring product design that make modern consumer goods.

Point of Sale related 3D Printing and Prototyping Case Studies

Point of Sale

World renowned retailers have used us to 3D print products such as mobile POS, experiental promo models for high end brands to unique one off bespoke POS.

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Frequently Asked Questions About 3D Printing

Whether you are new to 3D printing or an experienced user there are plenty of questions and answers:

I'm New to 3D Printing

Many questions, frequently raised by those new to the 3D printing experience.

"I'm New to MNL" Questions

I’ve used 3D printing before, why should I use MNL?

Technical Data Questions

Technical questions about 3D printing machines, materials capacity etc.

I’m New to 3D Printing.

What is 3D Printing?

3D printing is a service in which we produce three dimensional solid objects from 3D CAD data.
An additive technology, this contrasts with traditional manufacturing techniques, such as milling, which involve removing materials to create a part.

How does 3D Printing Work

In general, 3D printing works by cutting a 3D CAD model model of the part to be printed into many slices. The 3D printing machine will take a layer of data at a time and manufacture that slice or layer. Different technologies exist, however they all produce one layer at a time, simultaneously bonding it to the preceding layer.

The process continues right through the extents of the part until all digital slices have been “printed” into the physical form.

What are the advantages of using 3D Printing?

With 3D Printing on professional machines taking only a few hours, here are just some of the advantages these processes have to offer:

  • Reduce time to market: Models and prototypes of components can be produced in hours. Concepts can be tangible objects around a table instead of images on screen. Product development cycles can be vastly reduced due to the speed of 3D printing, compared to other traditional methods.
  • Save money and reduce risk: 3D printing prototypes before costly injection mould tooling can lead to eradicating design errors which can lead to expensive tool mods or delays to product release.
  • Get valuable Market Research: 3D printing market research models yield valuable market perceptions about your product often months before production batches are ready. The market research either gives you added confidence about your product or enables feedback to influence design changes before production tooling is finalised.
  • Excellent communication tool: 3D Printed parts provide a perfect tangible product that offers no alternative to the design intent. it simply is-what-it-is, something that drawings, images or video cannot beat.
  • Assembly trials: 3D print multiple components from an assembly and test the assembly procedure. Production lines can be streamlined and design improvements made from feedback from assembly line trials.
  • Improve your packaging: with 3D printed parts available at the packaging design stage, greater design flare and/or improvements lead to better design presence in retails situations.
  • Greater design freedom: with 3D printing used as a low-volume manufacturing method, design constraints traditionally associated with mass production can be eradicated.
  • Customise your parts: with 3D printing used as a low-volume manufacturing method, niche markets utilise 3D printing for bespoke components including jewellery, dental, medical, art etc.
  • Engage your imagination: 3D printing can make virtually any geometry you can imagine, the possibilities are endless …
What are the advantages of using a UK 3D PrintingService Provider?

As we are based in the UK, we can provide you with fast turnaround times, clear communication and the ability to quickly answer any questions you may have with no need to wait. We also offer a quality finished product and the ability to easily understand your requirements.

    How fast can I have a 3D Print?

    As we are a 3D printing service based in the UK, we pride ourself on fast turnaround times. Depending on the size of the “print” or build, it take from as little as a few hours. As you will appreciate, our large 3D printing service can take several days.

    We also offer a three tier costing system with turnaround times to suit different budgets.

    Are all 3D printers the same?

    The simple answer is no.

    New 3D printers hit the news frequently. There are many different types especially at the lower, hobbyist end of the market. They are all layer based technologies but that is where the similarity ends.

    Resin based systems are often the most accurate, with good surface finish. Plastic extrusion or filament based systems offer great material choice but can be limited with surface finish. Powder based systems offer a compromise of surface finish and accuracy.

    Apart from the technology differences, 3D printers vary greatly in the size of the build envelopes available. Some are limited to very small areas (many less than 100mm cube) others offer systems above 500mm in all axes, whilst other bespoke systems venture into several metres in available size.

    Build speeds are another crucial factor in 3D printers, and are often one of the major deciding factors when buying professional systems.

    Other factors that also influence the “points to note” about 3D printers are: Accuracy, surface finish and material choice.

    With such a variety of 3D printers available, it is for this reason that we have have technology consultants on hand to help you in getting the best out of 3D printing, whether you require a one-off product or a large 3D printing service.

    Which 3D printing technologies do MNL provide?

    We provide all major 3D printing technologies. As each available 3D printing technology has various pros and cons; Our in-house technology consultants will draw upon 40 plus years’ experience in the 3D printing and engineering world to select the most appropriate technology for your application.

    Our technology consultants will give an unbiased opinion on the best process to use to match your application, advice dependent upon the following:

    • Function
    • Material
    • Speed of process
    • Budget
    • Size of part
    • Quantity
    What do I need to supply to get a quote/3D Print?

    Ideally we need 3D CAD for each part that you need to be quoted. We can supply estimates based upon sketches or photos of existing parts. If you are supplying photos we would also need overall dimensions.

    For the ideal CAD format see here.

    If CAD data does not exist, don’t worry we can cost to create it from your sketches, or we can arrange partners to laser scan existing parts.

    How Much Will it Cost?

    MNL have a minimum charge – £100 this will give you a part approx. 70mm cubed, MNL will try to maximise this volume with as many components as possible to give you the maximum for the minimum cost.

    All projects are quoted in advance from CAD data supplied by customers.

    MNL operate a three-tier costing system. The philosophy of the tiered costing system is thus:

    Premium route, builds are organised by MNL so that customers can utilise an entire machine solely for their project. This means that parts are built in the shortest amount of time possible. In some cases multiple machines may be used to spread the load, reducing build time once again.

    Standard route, builds are organised so that several jobs are built at once with a good balance of efficiency and speed.

    Budget route, builds are organised by MNL so that machines are stacked out for maximum efficiency, these are longer builds however  30% off standard pricing in exchange for a few extra days is often strongly utilised.

    What is CAD?

    CAD or Computer Aided Design, is essentially digital design data, usually of solid objects.

    CAD is referred to as either the system that creates the data or the data itself, confusing I know!

    For 3D Printing you need 3D CAD data. For the formats that MNL can take see here.

    Can MNL do the 3D CAD?

    The CAD department at MNL offer the following:

    2D to 3D data conversion:

    Our CAD department can convert “fag-packet” sketches or any 2D data into suitable data for 3D printing.

    Design work:

    We can offer a basic design assistance service. We also have links with many designers and agencies for larger projects.

    Can I have a print from a photo copier?

    Believe it or not we have been asked this question many times. At the moment there are no UK 3D printing service providers that offer this magical offering.

    No

    I’ve Used 3D-Printing Before, Why Should I Use MNL?

    How Long Have MNL been 3D Printing?

    We were one of the early pioneers of using 3D printing for prototypes and development models, we had our first 3D printing machine installed in September 1996.

    With more than 20 years experience in 3D printing, we have an enviable reputation in the marketplace especially for quality of parts and excellent customer service.

    What 3D Printing Technologies do MNL Provide?

    We provide the following 3D Printing Services:

    • SLA or Stereolithography; The original 3D printing technology. The resin based one. The best offering for accuracy and surface finish. More extensive details and SLA related case studies follow me.
    • SLS or Selective Laser Sintering; The powder based one. A great blend of strength accuracy and surface finish. More extensive details and SLS related case studies this way please.
    • FDM or Fused Deposition  Modelling; The filament one. Lots of strength, and material choices. More extensive details and FDM related case studies click me.
    • Full Colour; The powder based inkjet one. Full colour aesthetic parts. More extensive details and Full Colour related case studies over here.
    What Expertise do MNL Possess?

    With over 20 years of 3D printing experience, operating in many different market sectors and producing many different model types, our experience is both deep and varied.

    Our technology consultants are on hand to evaluate your requirements and advise the best 3D printing technology to suit.

    Their down-stream processes of finishing and painting, short-run polyurethane resin production, and other specialist finishing touches; add dramatic and often essential additional services to the product development and low volume manufacturing marketplace.

    Where are MNL Based?

    We are UK based and operate from our base in Bidford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire. We are just 25 miles south of Birmingham and are easily reached from many places throughout The Midlands.

    Our Contact Us page contains details of location, numbers, email and maps.

    Do you have any examples of 3D printing projects?

    There are over 100 different case studies on this site covering many market sectors, model types and using different technologies.

    Why Use MNL; What are MNL’s USP’s?
    • MNL is a family run business spanning two generations.
    • Over 20 years of in-house 3D printing.
    • Quality 3D printed prototypes second to none.
    • Three tier costing system giving unique pricing choices of premium speed production through to budget.
    • MNL’s technology consultants advise best 3D printing methods, depending upon desired use.
    • Best combination of price and quality.
    • Enviable reputation throughout the RP industry.
    • Models available from concept through to production.
    • Not restricted by only one technology, all major methods offered.
    • One of the oldest RP suppliers in the UK.
    • Additional downstream processes including painting and finishing.
    • Vacuum casting since the 1970’s.
    • Take on complex projects many of their competitors have declined.
    What is a three tier costing system?

    Three Tier Costings

    The popularity of our 3-tier costing system has led to the purchase of an additional SLA machine, the 3rd in as many years.

    The philosophy of the tiered costing system is thus:

    Premium route – We organise these so that customers can utilise an entire machine solely for their project. This means that parts are built in the shortest amount of time possible. In some cases multiple machines may be used to spread the load, reducing lead time once again.

    Standard route Builds are organised so that several jobs are built at once with a good balance of efficiency and speed.

    Budget route  Builds are organised by MNL so that machines are stacked out for maximum efficiency. Whilst these are longer builds, 30% off standard pricing in exchange for a few extra days is often strongly utilised.

    More Technical Questions

    What 3D Printing Technologies do MNL Provide?

    At MNL we provide the following 3D Printing Services:

    • SLA or Stereolithography; The original 3D printing technology. The resin based one. The best offering for accuracy and surface finish. More extensive details and SLA related case studies follow me.
    • SLS or Selective Laser Sintering; The powder based one. A great blend of strength accuracy and surface finish. More extensive details and SLS related case studies this way please.
    • FDM or Fused Deposition  Modelling; The filament one. Lots of strength, and material choices.More extensive details and FDM related case studies click me.
    • Full Colour; The powder based inkjet one. Full colour aesthetic parts. More extensive details and Full Colour related case studies over here.
    What Expertise do MNL Possess?

    With over 20 years of 3D printing experience, operating in many different market sectors and producing many different model types has made their experience both deep and varied.

    Their technology consultants are on hand to evaluate your requirements and advise the best 3D printing technology to suit.

    Their down-stream processes of finishing and painting, short-run polyurethane resin production, and other specialist finishing touches; add dramatic and often essential additional services to the product development and low volume manufacturing marketplace.

    What Size Machines do MNL Utilise?

    MNL utilise the following machines and sizes:

    SLA – Stereolithography

    Standard Resolution machines – 2 off as follows

    Build envelope 508 x 508 x 580mm

    Layer thickness 0.1mm as standard. 0.15mm for turbo mode

    Laser beam size 0.4mm (features smaller than this will not form properly or at all)

    Standard Tolerances ±(0.1+0.075%) suited to most components that intend to be injection moulded.

    Non-standard components with differing wall thicknesses or thick sections need to be assessed before an idea of tolerances can be given.

    Hi Resolution Machines – 2 off as follows

    Build envelope 250 x 250 x 250mm

    Layer thickness 0.1mm

    Laser beam size 0.25mm  (features smaller than this will not form properly or at all)

    Standard Tolerances ±(0.05+0.075%) suited to most components that intend to be injection moulded.

    Non-standard components with differing wall thicknesses or thick sections need to be assessed before an idea of tolerances can be given.

    Ultra-High Resolution Machine

    Build envelope 125 x 125 x 250mm

    Layer thickness 0.05mm

    Laser beam size 0.075mm (features smaller than this will not form properly or at all)

    Standard Tolerances ±(0.05+0.05%) suited to most components that intend to be injection moulded.

    Non-standard components with differing wall thicknesses or thick sections need to be assessed before an idea of tolerances can be given.

    SLS – Selective Laser Sintering

    Standard Resolution Machine

    Build envelope 380 x 330x 457mm this gets seriously reduced when thermal borders and shrinkage are accounted for.

    Practical envelope for Nylon:- 320 x 270 x 400mm

    Practical envelope for GBAL:- 330 x 280 x 400mm

    Practical envelope for CastForm PS:- 340 x 290 x 420mm

    Layer thickness 0.1mm (0.15mm for CastForm PS)

    Laser beam size 0.35mm (features smaller than this will not form properly or at all)

    Standard Tolerances ±(0.15+0.15%) suited to most components that intend to be injection moulded.

    Non-standard components with differing wall thicknesses or thick sections need to be assessed before an idea of tolerances can be given.

    FDM – Fused Deposition Modelling

    Fortus 450mc

    Build Envelope 406 x 355 x 406mm

    Layer thicknesses include:

    0.127mm

    0.178mm

    0.254mm

    0.330mm

    Standard Tolerances Parts are produced within an accuracy of ± .127 mm or ± .0015 mm/mm whichever is greater).

    Note: Accuracy is geometry dependent. Achievable accuracy specification derived from

    statistical data at 95% dimensional yield.

    Fortus 900mc

    Build Envelope 914.4 x 609.6 x 914.4 mm

    Layer thicknesses include:

    0.178mm

    0.254mm

    0.330mm

    0.508mm

    Standard Tolerances Parts are produced within an accuracy of ± .089 mm or ± .0015 mm/mm whichever is greater).

    Note: Accuracy is geometry dependent. Achievable accuracy specification derived from

    statistical data at 95% dimensional yield.

    What Materials do MNL Utilise?

    Stereolithography – SLA

    Watershed 11122XC – Data sheet

    Selective Laser Sintering – SLS

    Exeltec 1550 XS – Superior Finish Nylon – Data Sheet

    Exceltec 2550 GBAL – Glass & Aluminium Filled Nylon – Data Sheet

    Fused Deposition Modelling – FDM

    Nylon 12 – Data Sheet

    Ultem 1010 – Data Sheet

    Ultem 9085 – Data Sheet

    PPSF – Data Sheet

    PC ISO – Data Sheet

    PC ABS – Data Sheet

    PC – Data Sheet

    ABS Plus – Data Sheet

    ABS M30 – Data Sheet

    ABS ESD7 – Data Sheet

    What Market Sectors Benefit From 3D Printing?

     

    Aerospace – link

    Architecturallink 

    AutomotiveLink

    Food & drinkLink 

    Art, fashion, TV & filmLink

    MedicalLink 

    MODLink 

    EngineeringLink 

    Sports and leisureLink 

    PackagingLink 

    Consumer goodsLink

    Point of saleLink

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