TYPICALLY, a new manufacturing company begins by making small numbers of high-value items for niche markets before tooling up to produce stuff in large volumes for mass consumption. But Domin Fluid Power, a five-year-old firm based near Bristol, in England, has used 3D printing to go about things rather differently.
Domin began as a design service working in the aerospace industry, but after two years its bosses decided it should make its own products. Those they picked were high-performance hydraulic pumps and powered servo-valves, both of which control fluids in mechanisms found in machines ranging from aircraft to processing plant in factories. The question was which market they should concentrate on.
Aerospace offers good profit margins. But it is a low-volume business and one in which new devices often take time to be accepted, delaying return on investment.