Feb 15, 2017 | By David

London mayor Sadiq Khan today announced his vision for the future of the creative industries in the city, centred around a regeneration and transformation of the Thames Estuary region, and 3D technology was a key part of the proposal. The UK’s largest 3D printing centre will be established in a new state-of-the-art facility in Silvertown, built for the production of large scale artworks and sculptures.

The plans were detailed in a document produced in conjunction with South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP), and they are intended to turn the Thames Estuary into a '‘global centre of excellence’' for the creative industries.

The area, which stretches from outer London boroughs to Essex and Kent on the south-eastern coast of England, will be transformed in a way not dissimilar to the development of Canary Wharf in the 1980s, which repurposed its existing industrial infrastructure for use by the financial sector.

The mayor’s office recognised the influence of the manufacturing legacy of East London and the Thames Estuary on their new proposal, and hoped that they would be able to build on the region’s current status as a cultural and creative ‘powerhouse’, which is contributing around £35 million annually to the city’s economy. Khan envisions the Thames Estuary becoming a '‘world-class centre for creative production- leading global innovation, developing the talent of the future and cultivating world-changing ideas.''

According to a report by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, there are now 1.3 million people working in the creative economy in London and the South-East, and around 1.2 million new workers will be required over the next decade. Importantly, the creative industries are least at risk from the increasing automation of the workplace, according to research by Nesta. The chairman of SELEP, Christian Brodie, stressed the importance of harnessing '‘the innovation and entrepreneurial spirit of the creative sector – enabling its growth and extending its global reach.'’

The industry’s boom is, however, currently being threatened by the rising land values and rent prices that blight the capital, as well as a skills shortage and a lack of large-scale production space and artist studios. Khan is seeking approval for his new scheme to combat these factors, hoping that it will form part of the government’s plan to secure the country’s growth and its future as a competitor on the global stage. The mayor’s proposal will, if implemented, see the provisioning of creative production facilities and investment in a skilled workforce, as well as limiting the carbon footprint left by the economy.

The new facility in Silvertown, where the UK’s largest 3D printing centre will be located, is just one of many exciting prospects for the future of the Thames Estuary area. Woolwich will see the creation of a new national centre for experiential arts, while Dagenham will become the home of London’s largest film studio complex. A new hub for digital creativity and gaming will be established at the University of Essex in Colchester, and a new industrial research laboratory for prototyping, skills development and production across multiple creative disciplines will be built in Kent.

Ambitious as these plans may seem, the ongoing growth of the economy depends largely on the people in charge investing in the kind of innovation that 3D printing represents. If they continue to see its potential to contribute to the success of their creative industries, the future of the technology certainly looks bright, both in the UK and internationally.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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