What is 3D printing really for?
We all know that 3D printing is a great technology improving in multiple fields and has a strong support in different communities all around the globe. In fact, a lot of companies are looking at how the can improve their services while reducing costs by embracing Additive Manufacturing. However, early adopters are still attracted by tabloids and sensationalist news.
Personally, I must make clear that I’m not an expert on 3D printing business. I’m just an enthusiast who wants to share what I learned from my experience. That’s mainly why I decided to tell you about some favorable 3D printing markets to focus on.
A few tips if you decide to get deeply into 3D Printing
Plug and play technology made easier our lives. But if you truly want to in curse into 3D printing, my personal advice is to keep always learning the most; learn about temperatures and filaments, but also machine calibration, Arduino, Raspberry PI (Programming) and 3D modeling; It will be a lot of work, yes, but it is totally worthy; also make sure you’re following the latest 3D printing trends and taking advantage of them.
This is not some kind of plug and play technology, however. This is more like old PC’s DIY.
Now let’s talk about three of the top Markets I found for 3D Printing
Educational institutions are still facing the barriers as consumers while these institutions are consumers themselves. Salesman’s are taking advantage of this market, often developing training programs and service plans to simplify 3D printing implementation on educational spaces. Most 3D printing companies do that as well.
But, if you are launching your business without knowing your market, there will be only two main possibilities: they’ll find you useful or you’ll be over.
Now I’m gonna tell you my personal experience in a 3D Printing business.
Two of my friends and I are running a 3D printing Startup called Ingenia 3D, the first one of its class in my city and it’s been like 3 years now. Back in the beginning, we were offering all kind of 3D printable stuff and telling people to don’t buy something if they can 3D print and personalize their own objects.
We learned the hard way that not everything works with 3D printing. Of course, a lot of things can be 3D printed, but I’m talking from a business perspective. Our service wasn’t profitable because market companies we attended have industrial providers which can produce and deliver a mass of products in a ridiculously short time.
We seriously talked and returned to the whiteboard to restructure our markets. Finally, research in our city gave us two key markets we can introduce 3D printing applications as a solving method.
Take this advice if you’re trying to make some bucks with your 3D printer:
First, classify what kind of people buys you and what kind of things they print; Find the market that fits you the better. Then explore with different types of prints and offer them to a different public and see if there are other markets to focus on.
2.- AUTOMOTIVE APPLICATIONS
Mainly applied for prototyping purposes, Automotive companies are exploring the next generation of additive manufacturing for end-use parts. It’s not actually new. For instance, there are few plastic parts on every motorcycle we know are hard to find their replacement.
So we contacted a few car fixers and offered our services to become their providers. We obviously had to work with different materials, other finishing processes and put the pieces into stress conditions in order to prove the quality of our products.
The costs will always be a major cause. But with faster builds and more materials available, we’ll soon be seeing the industry fully embracing AM technologies for larger volumes.
3.- MODELING AND PROTOTYPES (Mechatronics)
With such a disruptive technology, students and a few businesses can make their prototypes more efficiently; The innovation won’t stop since prints are coming day after day but, the real business on this area is 3D modeling.
3D Modeling is essential for any development in additive manufacturing. We recognized an opportunity in our city with all the schools that count on electronic areas and industrial engineering; then we came by and offered our Prototyping services and it was a success.
Additive manufacturing has always been a disruptive technology, even before and now after Education is a big consumer and one of the future Markets to continue this Industry’s development.
Finally, Here are a few points to consider so you can 3D print efficiently stop wasting filament and time:
- Evaluate the benefits that 3D print could give you. You could cut timescales on product development.
- Sharing designs could be risky. Secure your data internally and externally, use third software for sharing your models via web.
- Technology is always changing, try to keep up to date with all the innovation. Success and fails in the community, this could help you to grow your business faster.
- Protect your products; set as many barriers as possible. Protect your IP address, your designs rights, and patents.
- If you are making production parts, consider posting them on a distribution site. Also, check all the contractual terms so you don’t make legal infringements.
- Ensure you have a proper quality control process so you can deliver a good product on time.