Andy Simpson took a different route towards opening a 3D printing service provider. He spent more than 30 years running oil and gas manufacturing facilities around the world, including in Abu Dhabi, Russia, Germany, England, and Scotland. “When the oil price hit rock bottom, my role within the company changed very, very quickly,” says Andy. He went from being the person who ran global facilities to the man who would shut down factories and made people redundant. He left the company and decided to start up his own business. “The natural thing would have been for me to go and open a traditional manufacturing shop,” says Andy.
Instead, he opened Angus 3D Solutions, a Brechin-based 3D scanning, 3D printing and manufacturing service company. The company works with customers to create parts that were impractical to fabricate using traditional manufacturing technologies. “There aren’t many places in Scotland doing this [3D printing],” he says. His business quickly grew, and now has a broad customer list — from individual entrepreneurs to some of the biggest oil companies in Scotland. Angus 3D has several 3D printers in-house, including a Markforged Mark Two and Metal X. The Mark Two has predominantly been used to create jigs and fixtures for customers, with some customers now completely changing their designs to optimize for Onyx and carbon fiber. “Onyx is a great material,” says Andy. “It’s gone beyond my expectations, and beyond some of my customer’s expectations too.”
The Metal X
Andy had no intention to purchase a metal 3D printer — he had always assumed metal 3D printers would be too expensive and out of his budget. When he came across the Markforged Metal X, he realized it was a perfect fit. “I kept coming back to Markforged because they seemed more engaged and more willing to listen to what my challenges were,” he said. He applied for Zero Waste Scotland’s Circular Economy Investment Fund grant through the Scottish government, with part of his justification stating that his goal was to make metal printing more accessible to people and industries around Scotland. He was awarded the grant within a year, and brought the first commercially available Metal X in the UK to Scotland in late 2018. People have been nothing short of amazed. “To be honest, there’s nothing I enjoy more than showing people this machine — they’re taken away by it, they’re surprised,” he says. Customers like how the machine isn’t overly complicated, compared to other metal 3D printers on the market. Angus 3D Solutions has since printed more than 25 different parts for customers, including legacy parts for a 1942 sewing machines using 17-4 PH stainless steel and custom components for the oil and gas industry. There are also plans to produce test parts for a Formula 1 team.
Since bringing the Metal X to Scotland, Andy has become the go-to person on the technology for local Businesses, Manufacturers, Universities and local Radio & TV stations in Scotland. “The Markforged Metal X is part of my journey and probably part of my success as well,” says Andy. “That technology allowed me to do that.”