Liverpool software start-up Connect 4.0 has secured a £2 million contract for its augmented reality and integrated 3D printing platform Co-Fabrico one year after launching, with support from LCR 4.0.

Co-Fabrico is an online marketplace that enables individuals in the automotive industry to use AR technology to design vehicle parts and purchase them as market-ready, 3D-printed products.

The £2 million contract from Angolan tech company Robotica 4.0 will see Connect 4.0 supplying its Co-Fabrico platform, alongside its German consortium partner Cassa Mobile.

During the development of the platform, Connect 4.0 worked with the Virtual Engineering Centre as part of the business support programme LCR 4.0 – a part-funded ERDF project for businesses looking to adopt industry 4.0 technologies.

With the virtual infrastructure to connect a physical 3D-printed ‘factory in a box’ already in place, the VEC helped Connect 4.0 access the tools and expertise needed to develop a user-friendly prototype of the platform’s AR interface. This allowed the company to test the theoretical product, assess its strengths and weaknesses and showcase the prototype to investors.

The VEC also provided input and guidance into the practicalities of different Internet of Things (IoT) solutions as well as the possibilities and limitations of integrated systems.

Once a user submits a design to the Co-Fabrico web portal, the software identifies the best manufacturer to 3D print the product, based on the user’s needs and budget and then ships the finished vehicle part directly to the customer.

Irma Gilbert, business development manager at Connect 4.0, said: “LCR 4.0 and the VEC have helped us to gain a better understanding of the real-world applications of augmented reality and how we could use it to enhance our own digital supply chain platforms.

“Not only has the work with LCR 4.0 enabled us to take the Co-Fabrico platform to market, but it’s been instrumental in securing a £2-million client contract, we couldn’t be happier with the results.”
 
Dr Andy Levers, technical director at the Virtual Engineering Centre (University of Liverpool) and the technical lead for LCR 4.0, said: “Seeing a start-up like Connect 4.0 make such significant steps as a result of the resource, skills and expertise provided by LCR 4.0 and the VEC is really encouraging.”