A Trend Spotters Guide to London 2015: 2nd stop – iMakr

January 27, 2015
4 min read

Mintel is proud and boastful of our 80-plus trends, our team of trend spotters across 20 countries and the 70 odd amazing stories they bring to us every week. But trends don’t just play out on the page, steam on our screens, or come out of our analyst’s mouths. In fact – something we trade in at Mintel – Trends are happening right now in our streets, as insights and dreams turned in to real bricks-and-mortar businesses by brave pioneers and entrepreneurs.

In this new 5-part series, we bring you the very best of trends-in-action from all corners of London. We look into how each business is targeting wider trends and the social, demographic and cultural drivers behind it… Enjoy!

iMakr Store

iMakr 2Welcome to the world’s largest 3D Printing store, working in partnership with the MyMiniFactory.com team of world class designers. Their aim is to explain and explore the possibilities of this game-changing form of customised and creative manufacturing.

iMakr doesn’t just sell printers, it offers instruction as well as training and promotes the industry as a whole across events, exhibitions and schools worldwide. From a trends perspective, this is technology only just emerging in the consumer consciousness, but the potential is enormous.

This is because it speaks to the tenets of our Make It Mine and Objectify trends. The internet has promoted the esoteric and created personal platforms that impel us to assert our sense of self, yet it has also digitised – and effectively eradicated badges of taste – ‘things’ like music and pictures – and brought us towards a globalised, algorithm-led existence of ubiquity. We’ve seen a reaction in the form of things like Etsy’s artisan marketplace as well as the rise of localised craft beer breweries and 3D printing can deliver something similar in terms of alternative appeal.
iMakr 1
This is why 3D printing has such a strong future. The technology’s beauty is that it can produce individual, one-off items at a relatively low cost, compared to other mass manufacturing methods. It also caters to customers’ creativity at the same time. Witness Musicdrop’s personalised wind-up music boxes that play your own compositions and Crayoncreatures’ power to print tangible 3D models from children’s drawings.

We first visited iMakr during research for our Plastic People webinar and discovered it is able to turn around bespoke print projects within 24 hours, with print costs starting at £10 an hour, whilst the core customer base for printers themselves is currently small businesses and educational establishments. The advent of new printing materials like metal and wood also suggests a future of partnerships between traditionally skilled artisans and this new medium.

3D sceptics might like to know that printed parts are already upon us – within us to be more precise. According to studies from the University of Nottingham in the UK, no less than 5.5 million people have already been treated with 3D printed body parts or implants. The fact that printers are additive – depositing layers of materials, as opposed to subtractive, as in sculpting – makes them less wasteful than machines in many other manufacturing processes, and as capabilities become more sophisticated and printers start to use materials like salt, wood pulp and clay, sourcing may become sustainable too.

Food firms like Barilla are exploring a future of personalised pasta shapes – printed at home or sent ahead as files to a restaurant – and everyday seems to bring a new prototype in this regard, from Mink’s home make-up printer, to luggage and travel accessory designs that can be emailed to – and printed at – a traveller’s destination, to entire homes, printed from recycled construction waste in just 24 hours in Shanghai.

To find out more about iMakr, click here

With over a decade of experience in market research, Richard works as a Trends Analyst, helping clients understand how global consumer trends impact their business. As a globally recognised leading trends commentator, he is regularly called on by media worldwide to provide insight and analysis into consumer trends, with recent highlights including the Guardian and BBC Radio 2.

Richard Cope
Richard Cope

Richard is a Senior Trends Consultant, bringing the latest consumer trends to Mintel clients through bespoke presentations and represents Mintel at global conferences.

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