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BPIF Printing Outlook

The British Printing Industries Federation (BPIF) Printing Outlook Printing Industry Trends Survey for quarter four 2018  finds that inflation and tariffs and non-tariff barriers are the biggest Brexit-related worries for the UK printing industry. Anna Tobin reports

The BPIF Printing Outlook Printing Trends Survey found that when asked about the outlook for the UK economy, 38% of those in the industry are ‘somewhat unconfident.’ This was down from 42% in quarter three, but no respondents checked the ‘very confident’ category and 22% selected the ‘very unconfident’ category, up from 8% on quarter three.

The report states: “Domestic political squabbling, a lack of negotiation progress and the increased propensity for a ‘no-deal’ situation has ridden roughshod over business hopes that the Government would allay their concerns, clarify details on its negotiation position, make some progress with the EU and seek to minimise the uncertainty in the political and economic environment.”

The three main concerns that printing companies were found to have regarding the impact of Brexit are general cost inflation; tariff barriers and non-tariff barriers. Worries were also raised about unskilled labour shortages, as a result of immigration controls; an inability to retain EU workers; restricted investment in the UK by foreign companies; and, the cash flow implications of the potential application of VAT on entry for imports from the EU.

Some companies have begun stockpiling over fears surrounding Brexit-related disruptions to their supply chains; 17% of respondents admitted that they are stockpiling supplies. A further 25% have plans to stockpile certain supplies over the next six months. The report goes on to warn: “Stockpiling is not something all companies will have the desire, space or cash for, however, it is prudent to be knowledgeable about the origins of supplies, the logistical path those supplies take and what measures suppliers are taking to maintain the security and efficiency of the supply chain.”

How to deal with customs and tariffs issues post Brexit

Ensure your Business partners are ‘Ready for Brexit’ with the BrexSure Brexit audit tool

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Shanghai Mechanized Construction Group Co (SMCC), a Chinese construction company, and Polymaker, a 3D printing filament manufacturer, have partnered to 3D print a pedestrian bridge in Shanghai.

The bridge will be installed in the Taopu Smart City, Putuo District. The Taopu Smart City was designed by a German architectural firm, HPP Architekten, and covers 4.2 square km of northwest Shanghai region.

Testing of the 3D printed bridge in laboratory conditions. Image via Shine
Testing of the 3D printed bridge in laboratory conditions. Image via Shine

3D printed architectural feats

Even though a lot of applications of 3D printing are in the manufacturing sector, such as parts for automotive and aerospace, the technology has also shown architectural potential. Currently, NASA is exploring a Martian sustainable habitat made using automated 3D printers. On the Earth, this year in July a French family moved into a 3D printed houseCurrently, a Dutch robotic and AM company MX3D is working on a 3D printed steel bridge in Amsterdam, something the company has done before. 

In China too, Tongji University laid two 3D printed bridges in Shanghai, but only as a model.

But the latest Shanghai project, the motivation behind constructing a 3D printed bridge is urban renewal. According to HPP the idea behind Taopu Smart City is creating a “compact energy-saving city”, as Taopu is among the three heavily polluted areas in Shanghai.

The 3D printed bridge is a demonstration of a pollution free construction, and use of ‘smart’ technology.

A graphic representation of the Taopu Smart City. Image via BDP
A graphic representation of the Taopu Smart City. Image via BDP

3D printed bridge

The total weight of the bridge is 5800 kgs and it is 15.25 meters long and 3.8 meters wide. The 3D printer responsible for this construction itself is mammoth. It has a build volume of 24 meters length and 4 meters width and 1.5 meters high.  

The bridge was printed using Acrylonitrile Styrene Acrylate (ASA), a robust plastic. ASA is resistant to heat and water, therefore, is an ideal choice for a structure meeting various weather conditions. For the bridge, the ASA was mixed with glass fibers to add strength.

After testing the bridge for endurance, the Deputy Chief Engineer of SMCC, Chen Xiaoming,  said, “The bridge has a load of 250 kg per square meter, which means at least four adults can walk on it at the same time per square meter.”

The bridge is printed in one part and take 30 days and 5 hours. The final piece will be installed in Taopu Central Greenbelt, part of the Taopu Smart City. The Taopu Central Greenbelt is expected to be opened to the public in 2020.

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Featured image shows a graphic representation of the Taopu Smart City. Image via BDP

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