How a small business can benefit from owning a 3D printer

We are now in the 21st century. Year is 2016. Desktop 3D printers are available and affordable. If you run a small business, you should definitely start to make plans to get yourself into personalized digital fabrication age. Can you even remember any company that refused to modernize with personal computers? We can’t…

To give you an initial impulse we prepared a small overview featuring some of many possibilities to improve your company’s operations with implementation of 3D printing technology.

Promote your business

How much of your marketing budget are you spending on promotional items? Items that most of other companies also use? If you want to be more visible in the crowd, you need a real conversation starter like 3D printed object you made yourself. You can make everything from custom key chains, nameplates, coasters and other small promotional items. This demonstrates your creativity and commitment to new technologies. Forget paper, 3D print your business cards! If you don’t know CAD or 3D Design, there are many free repositories like Thingiverse with incredible amount of models you can customize with your text.

For more information about this 3D printable business cards and all the files nedeeded to print them, please see: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:350487

Build a new income stream

When you buy a 3D printer you can use it to sell 3D printing services to other businesses or general public. There are several business models, from providing the 3D printing service directly or trough marketplaces like 3D Hubs or more advanced model of running a 3D printed photo booth where you take 3D scans or “3D photos” of people and make their sculptures.

By owning a 3D printer you become a digital fabrication focus point for your community. You can print everything from replacement parts to toys, you will produce other people’s creativity.

Here is a promotional video for 3D Hubs service:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSeGyxs4jJA

Prototype and develop your new products

Prototyping was a first use of 3D printing and for some time those two terms were used as a synonym. At that time 3D printers were very expensive and prototypes were only used in high-tech industries. Now, with fall of prices of machines and materials you can make a prototype of almost anything. It gives you more realistic features and user testing, it can also reveal week spots and production difficulties that can you a lot of money down the line. You can test several models, multiple parts and sub-systems or even use it in combination with non-printed objects. A gram of real-world experience is worth more then tons of digital designs.

Make a custom product for each customer

If you are a small company dealing with physical gadgets you can customize them in form, function or connection to fit direct needs of your customers. Here is a perfect example of a company which uses a desktop 3D printer in their workshop to make custom speaker pods for HiFi car audio:

Make small production batches

3D printers are not economical if you want to make a serial production object, but there is a scenario where you can use it to make small product batches when it is not economically feasible to use injection molding.

After the first 3D part is printed you can use various techniques like silicone mold casting or rotational casting with single or dual component polymers to make small batches or limited product series.

Here is a video of RotoMaak rotational caster paired with 3D printer making a small series:

Make low cost tools and machines

You already have a 3D printer? Don’t want to spend a small fortune for a new cool tool you want to experiment with? Well, you could print most of your CNC mill or a laser cutter! There are many publicly available or open source objects with detailed build documentation and community of users. You can 3D print some parts, but there are certain pieces that are not 3D printable yet like electric motors and electronics.

For more information about this CNC and all the files needed to 3D print it, please see:
http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:724999

Surely, they don’t have all the abilities of industrial devices, but they will give basic capabilities, build knowledge, develop skills and processes. And, YES, 3D printers can print other 3D printers!

3D printing revolution is going beyond just physical products and so can your business …

3D printing and digital fabrication will bring many changes in a way we live and do business in the same way IT revolution did.

  • If you are a lawyer there is a whole new legal practice area with 3D intellectual property law and product liability legal issues.
  • If you are a medical doctor, there are many implants that can be 3D printed to custom fit your patients. In future living body parts will also be 3D printed. All those advanced technologies have almost the same operating principles like desktop 3D printer.
  • If you are a professional musician, guess what! Fully working musical instruments can also be made with 3D printers.
  • If you run a school, your students have to be prepared for a future. Think about starting a 3D printing classroom.
  • Who will train all the teachers? Who will train all the people who want to learn 3D printing and be more employable? There is a big business opportunity maybe waitng for you to fill the niche.
  • If you are a business consultant, your clients will have to learn about 3D printing since it will be one of the main production technologies. They will need new plans and strategies and you will need the knowledge. Buy a home 3D printer.
  • Do you own a bakery? There are 3D printers that print food decorations and extrude chocolate. You can also make your own custom shaped dough cutters.
  • You are in home decoration business or interior design? You can 3D print many decorative elements tailored for your customers without reliance on external contractors!

Take some time and you will find some area in your profession that is related to 3D printing…

Here is an example of open source 3D printed “Hovalin” violin you can make for some 70 USD on our desktop 3D printer:

After all of this, ask yourself can you afford not to build your knowledge about 3D printing? Can you afford yourself not to own a 3D printer? Here at 3DGence we developed our own 3D printer 3DGence ONE with several key advantages and with very high price-to-performance ratio. You can find out more about it here.

For any other information feel free to contact us at: support@3dgence.com

wd