Business Boost | 31 May 2017 - by

Gap year turns into gap lifetime for young engineer

Tucked away in a cupboard-shaped hidey hole in Hull’s stylish C4DI building, it’s like a cross between the Tardis and Doc Emmett Brown’s garage. You almost expect to see Marty McFly turning the amp up to 11 in the corner.

There’s an engineering schematic of a Star Wars X-Wing hanging on the wall above his desk while the modular 3D printer that the 21-year-old designed and built himself is beavering away in the corner crafting an intricate object out of plastic.

As the former Young Engineer of Great Britain – an award he scooped in 2013 while still doing his GCSEs – Alex knows all about the importance of being at the cutting edge of technology.

His business NFire Labs will launch its newest product the NFire Pro this September, bringing the benefits of reliable and worry-free 3D printing to schools and companies across the UK and beyond.

But it is being based at C4DI with all the benefits, advice and synergies that brings – allied with Alex’s own unique inventive spark - which has helped the young entrepreneur get to where he is today.

“What was a gap year has basically turned into a gap lifetime,” says Alex, who started as a C4DI intern two weeks after finishing his A-Levels.

“You couldn’t put a price on what I’ve learned here, it’s been unbelievably valuable. Just being around all these really talented and enthusiastic people, sharing their knowledge, has been a huge help in defining what I want to do – and how to do it.”

Alex hopes his new product launch in September will set NFire Labs on the path to major commercial success and revolutionise the way we use 3D printers.

It is from his C4DI base that Alex will monitor, advise and, if necessary, remotely service his customers’ printers.

One of the major benefits of being based at C4DI is the ultrafast broadband connectivity that KCOM supplies to the building. Here each hot desk has 1GBps connectivity while the building has broadband speeds that are the envy of tech hubs around the UK.

Alex, said: “The internet speed is crucial to how I work. Because my products are designed on CAD and in collaboration with other people I need to be able to upload files to the internet quickly and share them.

“The last thing I need is to be waiting for ages for something to upload or download but because of the speeds we have it’s done in a couple of seconds, which means I can be getting on with something else. I can work much more quickly, I’m not sat about kicking my heels or going for a coffee.

“If I’m servicing a customer’s printer online, remotely from here in the office, the internet speeds mean I can log on and resolve whatever problem there is in no time. It just makes everything more efficient.”

For more details about NFire Labs and its services visit