Avatar: Pushing ahead with 3D Printing

A Birmingham start-up is jumping ahead of the pack by offering training services in one of the world’s most lucrative emerging industries. Specialising in up skilling people in 3D Printing, entrepreneur Revathi Timms told BQ what inspired her to launch Avatar Enterprise Limited.

Revathi is a 3D printing enthusiast and has specifically designed a 3D Printer tailored for the education sector.

The "Ingenium" printer helps users to fully explore their creativity and further expand their knowledge and understanding of the principles and applications of 3D printing.

Revathi said: "It is vital that people have the opportunity to operate and gain skills in digital fabrication as it is the future of manufacturing and it will also bring manufacturing to the hands of the consumers."

She continued: "Having worked in the industry for 20 years, I have identified specific gaps which require fulfilling, shortage skills in the engineering and manufacturing sectors, suitable apprentice applicants to be placed with employers, and a need to encourage students in to STEM subjects.

"Technology is changing fast with an increasing number of new products introduced in to the market, however, there is lack of training and development offered on how to make effective use of many of these innovations."

When getting started, Revathi approached Worcestershire County Council with her business plan to see what support was available to her.

She told BQ: "I had written two business plans, one to manufacture low cost 3D printers and the other to offer innovative training using this innovative technology which was submitted to the local Worcestershire County Council.

"The council approved a start up grant for prototyping which kicked started my project in making a sample prototype of the 3D printer.

"I had attended the Ready for Business and New Enterprise Start-Up programme which brought me up to speed with business plans, cashflow forecast and managing budgets."

Avatar Enterprise then moved into the University of Birmingham’s BizzInn hub to begin creating its first prototype.

Revathi was "astonished to learn that there were substantial ERDF funded grants available to help start-ups, and the timing was perfect to set up Avatar as the University of Birmingham had recently launched the BizzInn incubation space.

"BizzInn provided me with a total business solution from hot desk facilities, access to expertise from the School of Engineering and guidance from the Enterprise Acceleration team to help establish my business."

In the early stages of business development Revathi had written two separate business plans. One to manufacture low cost 3D printers, and another offering training services in using 3D prototyping technology. BizzInn helped to develop the business plan, facilitated grant funding discussions and applications, and introduced Revathi to ABIA and CASIM2 expertise.

The ABIA grant obtained from the University of Birmingham involved a PHD student testing the sample prototype 3D Printer ‘Ingenium’ with a variety of thermoplastic materials.

Revathi now plans to introduce the Avatar-3D printer into local schools and colleges to provide training for students which will equip them with an accredited qualification in 3D printing that they can then use to enhance their employability prospects with local businesses.

She believes that the learning experience exploring the Universities technical expertise to develop this technology will be an inspiring story to share encouraging Innovation and manufacturing in the West Midlands.

Going forward, Revathi is now looking to master the training programme so that it can be implemented into schools and colleges.

She concluded, saying: "3D Printing is a cutting-edge industry and this £30bn market is going to rapidly expand to £60bn by 2020.

"There is huge growth and people need to be aware of the benefits and applications of this technology, how it is going to change the way we make things, and the service we offer to customers."

BQ will continue to follow Revathi’s journey with Avatar as the company continues to grow.

View a preview of the company here:

 

In partnership with: Startup Britain