2017 has been the year for major technology milestones. Autodesk marked its 35th anniversary in January, Lenovo's ThinkPad laptop turns 25 and the iPhone is celebrating 10 years since its launch. But one decennial anniversary you might not be aware of is that of a company that in its 10 years has gone from being a reliable partner in supplying materials and equipment to the then lesser-known stereolithography (SL) industry, to developing and delivering its own professional system. That company is RP Support (RPS)
Founded by Steve Moran and Rory Jackson in July 2007, the company quickly made a name for itself after being appointed as a supplier of industry-leading DSM Somos stereolithography materials and recruited its first project engineer, Simon Tyler, and Director David Storey in 2008. Expanding to Milton Keynes shortly after, business developed fast and by 2010 the team grew to five people warranting another move to its current location in Aylesbury.
Rory Jackson, Director at RPS, comments: "It has been a remarkable decade and our dedication to providing high quality in all areas of our business, with strong customer service and field support, has won us many contracts and we will continue to innovate and actively drive this exciting industry with further ideas in the future."
Some of those key contracts range from major automotive companies (all tight-lipped, as is the case with most clients of this nature in the industry, but they are very well-known) to facilitating one of the industry's most successful application areas with hearing aid manufacturer Widex, all of the way to the busy Rapidform department at The Royal College of Art, delivering stereolithography and laser sintering hardware, support and training.
By 2012, with five years of experience under its belt and a strong knowledge and understanding of the market, RP Support could see the opportunities that existed to provide customers with the 3D printing systems they needed, and began looking into the development of its own stereolithography machine.
RPS Director David Storey remarks: "We could clearly see the market need that the NEO800 now delivers, and we had the best team to design and build it."
Leveraging its hands-on knowledge working closely with SL technology over the last decade, every detail of the NEO 800 has been carefully selected, from its Titanium software built from scratch by in-house engineers down to the paint finish. But that meticulous research and development process has paid off with best-in-class build quality and reliability, and the system has since been piloted by Paragon Rapid Technologies who later became the first recipients of a machine, fondly named Trevor, before fully launching on to the market in September 2016. RPS has subsequently sold its first batch of NEO800 systems and has already started production of the second batch. The company made its first overseas sale in May 2017 and is actively seeking distributors in Europe. Steve Moran, Director at RPS, predicts that in the next five years RPS will have over 100 machines in the UK and Europe and teases the possibility of a new, smaller machine aimed at the hearing aid, jewellery and medical markets.
Steve Moran states: "We are very proud to be reaching this key milestone at RPS and to know that our amazing team with their combined knowledge and experience has brought us to this point, and built us such a strong reputation in the market." Ten years on, RP Support now employs 22 people.
That strong reputation has led to partnerships with the likes of ALM for a range of laser sintering materials and also Markforged, as a value-added partner for its carbon fibre, desktop 3D printers. Most recently, RPS has partnered with HP as a leading channel partner for its end-to-end HP Jet Fusion 3D printing systems and materials in the UK. In addition, RP Support has refurbished over 100 lasers in its clean room in Aylesbury, which are shipped to customers worldwide.
RPS will be continuing its anniversary celebrations at the TCT Show in September, seven years after it made its show debut, and at Formnext in November. Meet the team in Birmingham and Frankfurt to learn more. Alternatively find out more about RPS at www.rpsupport.co.uk.