A Lincolnshire-based online upholstery business called Heritage Upholstery is hoping to become the first in the UK to offer a 3D modelling and prototyping service to furniture manufacturers and restorers worldwide.
Heritage Upholstery has been awarded an innovation voucher worth £3,780 by the University of Lincoln, as part of the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) supported Innovation Programme for Greater Lincolnshire, to further develop the service.
Based at Cedar Parc near Lincoln, Heritage Upholstery designs and manufactures furniture components such as legs and castors which it supplies to retail and trade customers in Europe, the US and Australia.
As well as having thousands of items in stock, they also make bespoke products primarily for high-end furniture manufacturers and interior designers.
Previously, the process of designing and manufacturing a furniture part from scratch would have taken several months. However, using 3D design and print technology, Heritage Upholstery can complete the process in a few days.
Managing Director Martin Fahy has already been working closely with the University’s Designblok team to design and make prototypes for several new slipper cups using their in-house expertise and state-of-the-art equipment, and now hopes he will be able to expand it to include more products.
He said: “The grant will enable us to become the only company in the UK providing 3D models and prototypes of both bespoke and pre-configured furniture parts to restorers, designers and manufacturers. We hope that by offering a unique low-cost service and much faster turnaround times Heritage Upholstery will become a market leader.
“We already have an extensive customer base in the UK, Denmark, Sweden and US and this could open up a truly global marketplace for our business.”
Martin’s success is also good news for the county. Rather than having to look to India and Bulgaria to produce low-cost prototypes, he will be able to design and make them in Lincoln. As the business grows, Martin will also need to recruit more staff to add to his already growing team.
Jessica Boot-Marshall from the University of Lincoln said: “The Innovation Programme is designed to enable SMEs throughout the county progress and develop by innovating their products and services.”
“Heritage Upholstery is a great example of a forward thinking regional business working in a traditional industry but with a pioneering edge. The University has a wealth of expertise in product design and development which, thanks to this funding, Heritage Upholstery has been able to benefit from.