ASL news

The future of 3D printing

It’s hard to believe that 3D printing (or, more accurately, additive manufacturing) is 36 years old. It feels like such a modern innovation, like a science-fiction dream come true. Over the last decade, 3D printing has been used to create everything from complete chess sets and working survival whistles, all the way to artificial stents for use in heart surgery. Even so, that is the tip of the iceberg. What the future holds for the application of 3D printing is even more exciting.



The development of the 3D printed heart valve stent was rightly lauded as a major milestone for the technology, and it is only fitting that medical applications are at the forefront of this current wave of innovation in the industry. Work has already begun on the production of highly detailed models of the human body, accurate to the most minute detail, to be used in medical schools as training tools for their students. With a sharp decline in the number of people donating their bodies to medical science, it has been the practice in recent years for students to practise on digital simulations. Marrying this software with new developments in 3D printing will allow trainee doctors to operate in a physical environment. As the cost of production decreases, this means that medical students will be able to get their hands on a facsimile of the human body earlier on in their courses, maximising their training in a practical situation.

The benefits for medicine and healthcare doesn’t end at graduation. 3D printing using organic material is being trialled, which will enable working artificial organs to be created which run no risk of infection, or of rejection by the patient’s body. There are even experiments to create 3D printing bones for transplants, and fully functioning artificial skin to treat burn victims.


Less invasive procedures are also being worked out. Printed dentures have been around for a while, but Dutch researchers from the University of Groningen are developing an application that will produce a 3D tooth made from an antimicrobial plastic that will destroy the bacteria responsible for tooth decay.


From a way to prevent tooth decay, to one of the main causes of it. Work is afoot on creating 3D printed models made from granulated sugar, which could lead to intricate edible centrepieces for weddings and parties, or sugar sculptures of local landmarks for sale by the tourist industry (imagine biting down on a peppermint Stonehenge, or a barley sugar replica of the London Eye).

Car design

If sweet treats sound a little pedestrian, let’s take to the roads. 3D printing has been used for car design and prototypes for years, but in the future it will be used as much for production. Even small developments, such as 3D printed screws and bolts, can drastically reduce the weight of a car, improving both speed and fuel efficiency. Printed polymers are also incredibly strong, far more so than most metals. Engineers are utilising this combination of lightness and strength, together with a process known as topographical optimisation, to develop crush-resistant roofs for vehicles, capable of sustaining up to four times the weight of the car in a crash situation. Not only this, but 3D printing could be set to take up a big role in the world of motorsports. F1 team McLaren printed car parts trackside at the Bahrain Grand Prix, so that they could radically alter their tactics on the fly.


From the doctor’s surgery and the sweet shop down the road, straight back to the family home. Earlier this year, 3D printing specialists from Russia printed an entire house, giving us a peek into the future of home construction. The whole process, from start to finish, took 24 hours, and cost the company less than £8,000 in materials. With the world population at an all-time high, the prospect of a cheap, quick and efficient way of providing housing may be the most impressive thing of all.

ASL Group is a managed document solutions company, that streamlines and improves the print operations of its clients:



Andrew HoyleThe future of 3D printing
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How to choose copiers and printers for your business

ASL is one of the largest independent managed print companies in the United Kingdom, and the market leader in terms of service, quality and reliability.  silhouette-1Although we focus on serving major enterprises with large fleets of hardware, the advice we give is valid whether you have one printer or one thousand.  It is all about matching the needs of your business with the equipment that is available.

In our experience this matching can only be done by experienced advisors who can work with you to assess your business needs and suggest the right solution.  This means you will not pay for features you do not need, nor will you be saddled with poor quality equipment that needs to be shifted to meet a manufacturer’s target.  As an independent reseller we can choose from the wide array of available technology and pick the machines that are right for you.

Many business leaders we talk to mention the bewildering pace of technology in the field of office automation.  We no longer have “photocopiers” but comprehensive office suites, able to scan, copy, print, fax, download and e-mail.  No sooner has one state-of-the-art solution been unveiled when another, even more superlative machine is brought on the market.

This maelstrom of technological creativity is the environment ASL thrives in.  It is our job to keep up to date with all the new models that are in continuous development, and understand them thoroughly so that you do not have to.  Unlike manufacturers, who have to sell what their company produces, we are able pick and choose on your behalf, using our expertise to get you the best price.

All of the following need to be assessed and matched to your business requirements and the right equipment selected to perform at maximum efficiency:

  • Environmental considerations
  • Maintenance and service agreements
  • Networking capabilities
  • Print speed and copy speed
  • Quality of graphic reproduction
  • Security
  • Accounting and reporting
  • Integration with third-party software
Andrew HoyleHow to choose copiers and printers for your business
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ASL engineers take 1st and 2nd place in 2016 Kyocera Service Trophy

Mark Asbridge     Andrew Dale

Mark Asbridge (left) and Andrew Dale competed in the final of the 2016 Kyocera Service Trophy, held at Kyocera’s Manchester showroom on 18th May.

ASL service engineers took first and second place at the KYOCERA Document Solutions’ ninth annual UK Service Trophy.

The service trophy aims to identify and reward service technicians across the UK with the best attention to detail, technical knowledge and trouble-shooting skills.

Mark Asbridge of ASL Group beat over 700 KYOCERA trained service engineers across the UK to take home this year’s award, after coming out on top of a series of tasks held at KYOCERA’s Manchester Technology Suite.

Mark will now receive a bespoke trophy and travel to Germany this year to compete against engineers from 11 European countries to win a place in the final of the global competition hosted in Japan. During this trip finalists are given VIP treatment and also spend time visiting a KYOCERA production facility.

Following an online quiz, KYOCERA invited the top 5 scoring entrants to the UK final where they were challenged to complete 3 tasks to decide who would represent the UK at the European challenge.

ASL National Service Manager Bryan Borley said:  “This is a fantastic achievement and demonstrates the calibre of our service staff within the industry. I am sure you will all join me in congratulating them in their success.”

first prize

Above:  first prize was an iPad Pro.

Andrew HoyleASL engineers take 1st and 2nd place in 2016 Kyocera Service Trophy
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ASL takes part in Cambridge Regional College apprenticeships day

Cambridge Regional College Open Day (1)

Bar Hill based reprographics and print solutions company, Automated Systems Ltd (ASL) joined employers in the health, engineering, construction, manufacturing and catering industries at Cambridge Regional College (CRC) in August to talk to post- GCSE students about apprenticeship vacancies and careers options.

The Apprenticeship Scheme provides fully- funded apprenticeship training through Cambridge Regional College. With new apprentices recruited by ASL on average of every six months, trainees have made a positive impact on the ASL workplace. The company offers a unique range of learning opportunities with their successful and ongoing apprenticeship programme.

Bryan Borley, National Service Manager who attended the Apprenticeship Jobs Fair event with two ASL apprentices said: “ASL supports the Apprenticeship Scheme as it gives individuals the opportunity to train and obtain a qualification whilst in the workplace and provides the business with the skills needed.

“Not only are we recruiting apprentices to help business growth, our current apprentices are now embarking on higher level apprenticeships to develop their skills and gain further qualifications. Our apprentices were delighted to have the opportunity to speak with prospective apprentices about their experiences and careers path.”

Andrew HoyleASL takes part in Cambridge Regional College apprenticeships day
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ASL Joins the Cambridge Network


As a major employer and supplier in the Cambridgeshire area, ASL has joined the Cambridge Network, one of the biggest networking groups in the region.

Founded in 1998 by an influential group of business leaders and entrepreneurs, the Cambridge Network is a membership organisation based in the vibrant high technology cluster of Cambridge. The aim of the network is to bring people from business sectors and academia together to meet and share ideas:

“Cambridge ideas have changed the world and will continue to change the world. The mission at Cambridge Network is simple – to encourage collaboration for shared success.”

Find out more about the Cambridge Network at

Andrew HoyleASL Joins the Cambridge Network
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ASL MPS Processes

Assessment, optimisation and ongoing management of the print environment

The idea of auditing printers is often targeted at reducing the number of desktop devices and redirecting volumes to new MFP devices. In looking at a totally managed print environment, ASL understand that desktop printers may also be an integral part of office printing requirements.

In our assessment process we carry out a comprehensive audit of all current devices including location and print volumes. The information is translated into presentation format in order to show a complete picture of the current work-flow. The intention of the assessment is to report all aspects of the existing set up. Device metrics highlight the number of different types of devices in use which then translates into how much stock is required in the toner store cupboard, which can be another source of waste as devices get replaced.

Optimisation then involves proposals for ASL to introduce a fully managed print environment. This can be an ideal opportunity to cull the existing fleet of printing devices but where devices are justified, we then provide new desktop devices with both mono and/or full colour features in a compact, high speed, duplex, networked unit. This is in conjunction with strategically located MFP devices which offer larger paper sizes along with copying, scan to email/folder, fax and print and release features.

ASL supply new high specification desktop printers which, wherever possible, are networked. We then operate a supported service in a similar manner to MFP devices whereby service, breakdowns and consumables are included in a single page print cost. The benefits of this type of installation have been proven having regard to cost reduction, functionality and visibility.

The ongoing management aspect includes the introduction of PaperCut software which will allow for the implementation of ‘rules based printing’ and print monitoring. This will initially quantify and report print volumes as they currently stand and allow for a repeat of these reports in order for us to understand changes within the printing environment. The intention of reducing printing costs will then bring an environmental benefit as a matter of course.

In conclusion, when we first look at introducing a managed print service, we work with our customers to review current working practices and how they will be impacted by any subsequent changes. We believe that by working together toward a measured and sustainable installation, we will be able to achieve our mutual goal of a fully integrated, cost effective, managed print environment.

Find out more about MPS from ASL at

Andrew HoyleASL MPS Processes
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ASL – MPS & Follow Me

Probably one of the most important factors in eliminating paper waste is through the use of “follow-me printing”, which eliminates the common occurrence of “print and forget”.

When a printer job is sent to a network-enabled MFP, the document is only released when a user authenticates at the device. Documents not printed after a certain amount of time are then automatically deleted.

The added bonus of “follow-me printing” is that documents can be released at any location within the network, promoting user mobility. This not only reduces paper waste by eliminating uncollected output, it promotes document security and mobile working. All future MFP devices can have this feature embedded and we are sometimes able to retro fit to current devices.

PaperCut print management software is ideal for businesses of all sizes and actively encourages the responsible use of company resources, creating an environmentally friendly workplace. PaperCut print release software provides a simple solution that places jobs in a holding state until the user authenticates and releases the job at the printer.

User benefits include:

  • Secure printing – sensitive jobs will not sit uncollected on the printer; jobs only print when released by the user
  • Follow-Me Printing – provides a roaming print solution where users print to a single queue and jobs will be “pulled” to any printer where they authenticate
  • Reduced wastage- no more uncollected jobs; no wasted paper or toner

Green IT should no longer be an afterthought behind cost reduction – more businesses now consider sustainability as a key priority due to combined customer demands and new regulations on carbon trading. According to Ricoh, sustainability is a key part of almost 80 per cent of MPS tenders with a typical weighting of 35 per cent, from about 10 per cent a few years ago.

As sustainability rises up the agenda, so we expect the capability to quantify the environmental impact of the print environment to meet reporting requirements.

Find out more about MPS from ASL at




Andrew HoyleASL – MPS & Follow Me
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ASL – MPS & Print Costs

Poor print management results in wasteful printing and the use of out-dated or redundant devices can lead to increased running costs.  Many organisations are reducing the complexity, cost and risk of operating an unmanaged print environment by adopting a managed print service (MPS).

Working together, ASL and our customers have been looking at this subject and have carried out many print audits across varying networks with a view to better quantifying print volumes and associated costs.

Cost reduction has long been the primary objective for MPS and to make real cost savings, companies need to have complete visibility on printing devices, volumes and overall costs. MPS addresses these processes in three main stages – the assessment, optimisation and ongoing management of the print environment:

Stage One – Assessment (print audit)

  • report current print volumes
  • record current print costs to include consumable costs
  • include capital costs for equipment
  • report colour usage as a percentage of overall print volume
  • report location of devices and current models/manufacturers.

Stage Two – Optimisation

  • reduce the installed base of desk top printers where appropriate
  • introduce strategically placed MFP devices to include scanning and fax where applicable
  • introduce follow me printing across the network of MFP devices
  • introduce print monitoring and if necessary rules based printing using PaperCut.

Stage Three – Ongoing management

  • report print volumes and trends
  • monitor and report copying at MFP devices
  • accounting of print and copy volumes into departmental codes
  • budget allocation for colour usage
  • pop up messaging for best printing practices
  • force applications such as outlook to mono printing
  • report colour usage and if necessary restrict
  • automatic toner ordering, fault reporting and meter reading collection.

We believe that by working together toward a measured and sustainable installation, we will ultimately be able to achieve our mutual goal of a fully integrated, cost effective, managed print environment.

Find out more about MPS from ASL at

Andrew HoyleASL – MPS & Print Costs
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ASL Recycling Policy


In partnership with our waste contractors, ASL Group Ltd have achieved a 93% recycling rate from all departments, with just 7% going to landfill.

In certain areas, we have actually achieved a recycle rate of 100% by returning material to manufacturers and by utilising a metal recycling scheme.

We are delighted that we have been able to achieve these levels of recycling throughout the business, especially as material volumes are high and 100% of our waste used to be sent directly to landfill.

In response to the success of our current recycling scheme, we have now set a new target of a 95% recycle rate by further reducing our overall contribution to landfill.

ASL Group Ltd strives to reduce the environmental impact of its processes and we would like to thank all those who have contributed to our recycling policy.

And as a final reminder, don’t forget to ask this question: “If it’s going in the bin, can we recycle it…..?”

Andrew HoyleASL Recycling Policy
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ASL launch new responsive website

Press release: 

Automated Systems Group Ltd (ASL) has launched a new responsive website. The new website is easy to navigate, responsive to mobile and tablet devices, includes refreshed graphics and comprehensive product information.  The website also provides clear partner information from major manufacturers including Kyocera, Ricoh, Lexmark and Epson.

The new website’s content has been streamlined to provide a more user-friendly and engaging experience for ASL’s web visitors.  ASL has an impressive product line-up from the world’s leading manufacturers, but in addition, the Managed Document Solutions message as an end-to-end service is at the heart of the website’s objectives. The new website shows businesses how software and cutting-edge, multi-functional device solutions can increase efficiency and reduce customer costs.

Mark Garius, Managing Director at ASL Group Ltd said: “The new ASL website has been designed with user experience in mind and developed to ensure the site is compatible with today’s browsers and mobile devices. We also have an array of case studies that provide a detailed overview of ASL’s capabilities across a wide range of sectors beyond the traditional business service industries to include education, manufacturing and construction.”

On the new ASL website, visitors can also stay informed with the latest news from ASL and the print industry. The “News” page features the latest company announcements, product innovations and opinion pieces.

In addition, the new website allows users to engage with ASL across an array of social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

ASL is one of the UK’s leading independent document resellers, supplying and managing print, copy and scan solutions from world leading manufacturers. The company is based in Cambridge with offices in the midlands, London, Milton Keynes and Great Yarmouth employing 100 staff and looks after around 5000 customers across the UK.

For more information about ASL, call 0845 207 7000, email [email protected] or go to the new website at

Andrew HoyleASL launch new responsive website
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