Innovative Tipton Firm Lighting The Way


Tipton based Threeway Pressings by their name are largely associated with their ability to undertake a broad spectrum of traditional presswork, but are becoming equally well known for their sound R & D work, prototyping and wide array of skills to bring exciting products to fruition, delivered straight to the end user. In many ways, the firm could be regarded as an OEM, amongst other projects they are responsible for the ongoing design, manufacture and innovation of household photographic brand Patterson Photographic.

Phil Stanley, Managing Director of Threeway Pressings comments; “Historically the firm would import parts from China, as do most other European firms in this industry but we decided that it could be done locally. After scouting some of the major European shows we realised that China was very much dominating this market. We put together some CAD drawings and came away with a market ready product, made here in the Midlands.”

Phil Stanley and fellow director Richard Perry started designing the lights and have created inserts in the die process to achieve the interchangeable parts that are part and parcel of the photographic industry. It is manufactured in a way that allows the units keep up to date with new technologies such as the emergence of LED’s. All parts and die casts are locally made, the injection moulded elements for instance are done down the road by their associated company Tisa Injection Moulding.

Threeway Pressings have made the lights to be interchangeable to mate with anything else in the market – but the difference is their British heritage and the UK service element that comes after sale. If there is a new part required or a problem with a unit, it can be sent out from Tipton the next day – “anyone who wants to wait for China is welcome to” comments Phil.

Interestingly, the units that come out of China are not of the same quality. Phil believes “It is no more expensive than the ones coming in from China as theirs are sold to middle men, who import them which are then subjected to increasing fuel costs and are then sent to agents who apply their own margin. “

“If we manufacture locally, we can source locally, assemble locally and its then going straight from the manufacturer through to the end user. Yes labour rates are higher in the UK, but we’ve offset that through bringing the whole process here. We’ve got people within our group who are industry experts in the photographic industry so we’ve got a constant tap on knowledge of use of the product so we can do this very well.”

Most of the competing units in the market are made of plastic – they are frequently used in schools and colleges and can be subjected to significant use and often brutal handling. Patterson Photographic units are manufactured out of aluminium and because they are British made, they are made to last.

Threeway Pressings have gone back to their customers and people who know the Patterson brand (Patterson Photographical) with their new products such as the new tripods and other accessories – the customer knows the brand well and the relationship is such that there is trust in what they’re doing.

The Union jack is also displayed proudly on Patterson Photographic and other Threeway Pressings products. Phil remarks; “This is very important on our products – we have noticed the flag starting to reappear more and firms are becoming bolder in its usage. This is something we’ve always done – in the international arena, the British brand is almost a hallmark. We are one of the very few firms in the UK that manufacture lighting here which is important.”

“We’re always looking to innovate and keep on top of new technology that the consumer can use. The future of lights in this industry is in the use of LED’s – its different as its a cool light and is far more intensive on the electronics side. The beauty is, electronics have moved along so much its not so difficult. This is going to allow us to retain our current case sizes containing more circuit boards but will allow us to dim or brighten accordingly – its something that is in development at the moment.”

The firm is pulling together in one direction and it ensures that Threeway and its interests are focused on a communal goal – this is important for a firm with so many strings to its bow.

Threeway Pressings also manufactures wheelbarrows for end users. Like any product manufactured, distribution channels are the main headache for the parent manufacturer. For Threeway Pressings, getting the product into Tesco stores was a real success and after supplying into them for more than 12 months now, they have a happy customer. This has since opened the door to firm being able to turn its hand to a range of equipment for the gardening industry.

Threeway Director Richard comments; “We’ve invested in the machinery that we need, we’ve done the tooling we require and it means we can hit the ground running with a new product like this.” 

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