Monday, Mar 9, 2009 5:00 AM

BURLINGTON, Mass., USA - A design firm for many of the UK's leading retailers is using 3D printing technology from Z Corporation to win new business, speed prototyping and expand its service range.

Intent Design, a £1 million boutique firm in Cheshire, designs retail environments - including signage, décor, furnishings, window arrangements and point-of-purchase displays - for clients like Nike, Heineken, L'Oréal, Marks & Spencer, News International, Sony Ericsson, Siemens and T Mobile. These retail environments define the retailer's brand. Whether sleek counters, stylish merchandise racks or "pencils in pots" for a funky children's clothing store, Intent Design's products also attract consumers and prompt them to buy.

"We design things differently and, we think, a little better than our competitors, and 3D printing is one example of how we gain an edge," said Paul Dodd, managing director at Intent. "The ZPrinter® 450's simplicity, speed, color, quality and affordability foster fruitful design reviews and provide clients with deep insight into what we're proposing."

ZPrinted 3D physical models give buyers a chance to touch, manipulate and scrutinize tangible objects from every angle instead of just viewing them on a flat screen. These capabilities help close deals and ensure client expectations are met.

For internal design review, Intent uses 3D printing to quickly and affordably create physical models of injection-molded parts - a stylish supermarket end cap, for example. These concept prototypes cost one-eighth of the money and hands-on time of CNC-milled prototypes, says Dodd, resulting in more prototypes and, ultimately, more highly refined designs.

ZPrinting expands Intent Design's business opportunities

Intent Design is also using the ZPrinter 450 in an entirely new way that, for the first time, extends the company beyond its retail roots and into a new revenue opportunity. The company has now begun creating mold patterns for bronze plaques that adorn historic monuments throughout the country.

The ZPrinter 450's high resolution makes it easy to produce the small text, such as veterans' names, a process that would be outrageously expensive via CNC. Intent designers start by modeling text in SolidWorks® 3D CAD software and extruding the letters. Artisans use the ZPrinted raised-text pattern to create a fiberglass mold for the bronze casting. This novel, cost-effective approach has resulted in several dozen new business opportunities for Intent.

"We're only just beginning to learn what we can do with 3D printing and the various materials and processes available to us," says Dodd. "There is more opportunity here, and we plan to capitalize on it."

"It's inspiring to see how creative people find fresh, new uses for 3D printing beyond the obviously valuable prototyping and marketing applications," said Z Corporation CEO John Kawola. "This is the kind of innovative thinking that has placed Intent Design at the top of its industry."

About Intent Design

Intent Design is a professional retail design company specializing in retail design and point of purchase solutions for a wide range of market sectors, from small independent operations to large multiples. For more information visit www.intentdesign.co.uk or www.rapid3dsolutions.co.uk.

About Z Corporation

Z Corporation makes products that enable users to capture, edit and print 3D data with unprecedented speed, ease, versatility and affordability. These products include the world's fastest high-definition 3D printers — machines that produce physical 3D models from digital data in full color - and uniquely portable 3D scanners - handheld machines that digitize 3D surfaces in real time. Z Corp. technology is enabling a wide range of applications in manufacturing, architecture, civil engineering, reverse engineering, geographic information systems (GIS), medicine and entertainment.

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