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AssentWorks secures 3D printer with new expansion

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A local company with an innovative capacity to print 3D images has no shortage of ideas on how to spend some government money.

Kerry Stevenson, a director with Winnipeg-based AssentWorks, one of Canada’s largest and most accessible public-fabrication centres, will host federal cabinet minister Vic Toews for a funding announcement this morning.

The 10 a.m. event will take place in AssentWorks’ offices at 125 Adelaide St. in the Exchange District.

Stevenson wasn’t able to divulge the size of the cheque AssentWorks is expecting, but he said he would "graciously" accept it and talk about its Phase 2 development plans.

Those plans include more than doubling its space with a 6,500-squarefoot expansion, purchasing additional manufacturing equipment and having new start-up businesses move in next week.

The facility is run for the benefit of the members to make things for their business, he said.

"It’s like we’re operating the gym and people come here and do their own fitness program," Stevenson said.

AssentWorks’ nearly 100 members are producing about three prototypes per week, a rate Stevenson said is "astounding." "Some of them are hitting the big time now," he said.

One product, called The Heft — a clip-on ergonomic handle for longhandled tools, such as a shovel, so the user can move more and heavier snow — was recently featured on CBC TV’s Dragon’s Den.

The owners have just signed a deal to distribute it with a national retailer.

Stevenson said AssentWorks’ intention was to start up without government assistance, but when Ottawa came calling, he was certainly willing to listen.

"We opened in October 2011, and were breaking even three months later," he said.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

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Updated on Friday, March 1, 2013 at 9:25 AM CST: adds photos, updates headline

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