Liverpool start-up secures £2m 3D printing contract through LCR 4.0

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Liverpool software start-up Connect 4.0 has secured a £2 million 3D printing contract for its Co-Fabrico augmented reality (AR) platform one year after launching, with support from LCR 4.0.


Co-Fabrico is an online marketplace for the automotive industry that enables customers to use AR technology to design their own vehicle parts and purchase them as market-ready, 3D-printed products.


The £2m contract is with Angolian tech company Robotica 4.0, which will be supplying the Co-Fabrico platform to German consortium Cassa Mobile.


During the development of the platform, Connect 4.0 worked with the Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC) as part of the business support programme LCR 4.0, a part-funded ERDF project for businesses looking to adopt industry 4.0 technologies.


With the virtual infrastructure to connect a physical 3D-printed factory in a box already in place, the VEC helped Connect 4.0 access the tools and expertise needed to develop a user-friendly prototype of the platform AR interface. This allowed the company to test the theoretical product, assess its strengths and weaknesses and showcase the prototype to investors.


The VEC also provided input and guidance into the practicalities of different Internet of Things (IoT) solutions as well as the possibilities and limitations of integrated systems.


Once a user submits a design to the Co-Fabrico web portal, the software identifies the best manufacturer to 3D print the product, based on the users needs and budget and then ships the finished vehicle part directly to the customer.


Irma Gilbert, business development manager at Connect 4.0, said: “LCR 4.0 and the VEC have enabled us to gain a better understanding of the real-world applications of augmented reality and how we could use it to enhance our own digital supply chain platforms.


“Not only has the work with LCR 4.0 enabled us to take the Co-Fabrico platform to market, but it’s been instrumental in securing a £2-million client contract, we couldn’t be happier with the results.”


Dr Andy Levers, technical director at the Virtual Engineering Centre (University of Liverpool) and the technical lead for LCR 4.0, said: “Seeing a start-up like Connect 4.0 make such significant steps as a result of the resource, skills and expertise provided by LCR 4.0 and the VEC is really encouraging.”