Birmingham company in “powerhouse” merger

Metal printing firm to help create complex components business.

A new manufacturing powerhouse in precision machining and metal 3D printing has been created following the merger of Birmingham’s Innovate 2 Make and Newbury-based Progressive Technology.

The deal, which was completed this week, creates an end-to-end supply solution for customers looking for low to medium volume production of complex components typically used in high performance environments.

It offers a resource rarely seen in the UK and will give Formula 1, aerospace, and medical clients the opportunity to have greater control of quality and reduced lead times when developing products that require both disciplines.

The new business will be called Progressive Technology – Advanced Manufacturing and is targeting more than £2 million of additional sales in its first twelve months, with the possibility of ten new jobs being created.

“The merger is a natural progression of a working relationship that has been in place for a couple of years now,”
explained Ross Pinchin, Managing Director of Progressive Technology. “We have a number of shared customers who use us to manufacture parts for F1, with i2M providing the metal 3D printing expertise and our multi-axis machining capability delivering the secondary operation.”

He continued: “By bringing the two firms together we’ve created – what we believe – is the largest single source full service machining and metal 3D printing solution in the UK. It’s a bold move, but one that is already creating significant demand from customers who want easier access to this new technology, as well as the ability to reduce logistics costs, minimise supply chain disruption and shorter lead times for parts.”

Mike Kelly, Director at Innovate 2 Make, added his support: “When we first started talking about 3D printing, or additive manufacturing as it is sometimes known, it was about replacing traditional manufacturing processes.

“That’s no longer the case, as on its own it just doesn’t meet what customers are asking for. It is an extremely valuable discipline for manufacturing short batch, complex parts, but will always require secondary operations like CNC machining to give you the tolerance or finish you are after.

“This is why this merger is so exciting. We can now offer the end user a complete service, from using metal 3D printing in the initial production of the component to tapping into Progressive Technology’s fantastic capabilities in Newbury.

“The latter includes a bank of 5-axis CNC machines, 2 wire EDM machines, wire and spark eroders, state-of-the-art milling and one of the largest inspection and quality assurance departments ever seen in a SME.”

Established in 1977 by Ross’ father, Progressive Technology has grown from a small toolmaking business into a critical supplier of components to Formula 1 teams, supplying 80% of the grid.

The company, which operates 24-hours a day, seven days per week, has invested more than £2 million this year into creating a world class machining and composite centre in Hambridge Lane and in recruiting some of the sector’s brightest minds and budding engineers.

Birmingham-based Innovate 2 Make has enjoyed a similar period of growth after launching in 2012. Led by Mike Kelly and Ian Campbell, the firm has transformed an industrial unit in Kings Norton into a metal 3D printing centre, supplying prototype and low volume production capacity for aerospace, automotive, defence, F1 and medical sectors.

Mike went on to add: “We are delighted to be joining forces with Progressive Technology and delivering a much sought-after solution to industry. In the short-term we will continue to operate out of Birmingham, but there may be opportunities later on to consolidate all of our activities under one roof.

“Importantly, we had seen a huge amount of work offshored due to a lack of capability like the one we’ve just created. We’ll now be working extremely hard to bring those contracts back home.”

Progressive Technology – Advanced Manufacturing will use the combined capacity to secure additional work in F1 and to open doors into new markets, such as automotive, aerospace and renewables. It has already taken measures to make inroads into the cycling sector, with Ian Campbell leading on the launch of Mirada Performance Products, a spin-out company delivering design innovation and production grade components.