Are you searching for the right 3D Print designer for your business projects? Look no further because Tom and Tracy Hazzard have found the perfect client matchmaking service for 3D Print Designers. Fresh from Down Under, they speak with Bobby Lin of MyLocal3DPrinting.com, a service business that fosters project relationships between 3D Print designers and businesses and investors who want to bring their ideas to life through 3D Print. In this episode, Bobby shares with us the amazing things they do at his company, overcoming performance concerns for both the client and the designer. He also lets us in on why the Australian market of 3D Print is fairly green, how good 3D Print designers are going to be in demand, and why they need to show their skills and not sell. Find the perfect designer that matches you with Bobby’s guidance.
Listen to the podcast here:
3D Print Designer Matchmaking With Bobby Lin Of MyLocal3DPrinting.Com
We have found the perfect client matchmaking service for 3D Print Designers and it’s being built Down Under. Bobby Lin has taken his experience as a 3D visual effects designer and translated it into a service business that fosters project relationships between 3D Print Designers and businesses/inventors who have ideas but need the 3D Print skills. With milestone-based payments and secure transfer of design files, MyLocal3DPrinting.com is the Matchmaker for 3D Print Designers.
We’ve got an interview with Bobby Lin of MyLocal3DPrinting.com, which is a new company out of Australia. It’s our first interview with a company from Australia but don’t be fooled by that. Their company has a global reach. When you read this interview, you may be interested in them.
They may have a bigger reach than they think. Bobby will tell you a little bit about his background. He’s got an interesting designer background, which I like.
Bobby, thanks so much for joining us. I’d like you to start by telling us a little bit about your background and about your new company.
Thank you for having me, Tom and Tracy. I come from a visual effects background. I used to be a VFX artist for a motion lab over here in Melbourne, Australia. We had a 3D printer. We didn’t use it for commercial purposes. We bought a 3D printer for the fun of it. We had a bit of leftover cash from projects. We purchased a MakerBot, the one with two nozzles. It was quite a modern machine, even for MakerBots. From my job, I do a bit of 3D modeling. We download from sites like Thingiverse. I made things for myself. From there, my interests regarding 3D printing definitely grew because I didn’t know much about it beforehand. After that role, I tried to start an importing business where we looked into making smartwatches. With that, I created a design for it and I use 3D printing to print out my prototypes.
Tell us a little bit about the market in Australia for 3D printing.
The market in Australia is quite young. Definitely, we’re behind the US in terms of 3D printing. There are 3D printing outfits over here. However, the price of them is considerably higher. Also, the general public is a lot less in the know about 3D printing. To give you an example, everyone’s heard of 3D printing and once in a blue moon, there will be an article or there will be a news article saying something about how someone has saved a leg by replacing a bone with 3D printing, something like that. It’s very rare. The general public’s conception of 3D printing is that it’s this advanced technology that can do a lot of good but they wouldn’t know what to use it for.
I don’t think that’s any different than it is here in the US. In most places, there’s a big portion of tech and design community that does know what it can do if they’ve tried it. When you talked about it in the general public, they’re like, “I’ve heard of that but what do you do with it besides make trinkets?” That’s what we get a lot here. Little plastic things.
I’ll have to agree with you. It’s very much like that everywhere else. However, I’m surprised by the price though. The cost of 3D printing, thanks to approachable companies, it’s a lot cheaper in America and possibly one of the reasons is that the material comes from America.
What part of it is expensive?
The 3D prints. If you were to approach a 3D printing outfit in Australia, the price to print something out would be considerably higher compared to if you want to get something printed in America.
I wonder if that’s because maybe 3D printing is not quite as far along in Australia and maybe it’s a supply and demand issue.
It might be. This is my perception of the way things are going from what I’ve been hearing in the venture capital, the VC chat that’s going on LinkedIn and other places. I don’t think any of them are making money in the US. Those prints are underpriced.
Maybe in Australia they’re pricing it appropriately for their real costs. In the US, the market is a little bit flooded and people are trying to gain business by offering lower price maybe.
It’s subsidized. It happens all the time in other markets. When you think about how Amazon started, they made no money for years on everything. Everything was a loss leader. They may have taken the same approach. I don’t have any confirmation of that but I’m starting to believe that based on what I’m seeing. Not that you should change your model in Australia because it’s more realistic.
That is a problem here in the US, not only for service businesses but also for design files. We’re interested to talk a little bit more about that because of your new company that you’re creating. Maybe that’s a good opportunity to segue to that. You have this new company you’re building called My Local 3D Printing. Can you tell us how that came about? What stage is it in? What is it all about? Maybe we can get into some more details about that.
It’s interesting what you said before about the different business model, possibly in the US compared to over here in Australia. Possibly one of the reasons why they’re doing that in America would be to make 3D printing more mainstream. The idea behind My Local 3D Printing is that we try to solve or we try to take away the problems that are limiting the general public to use 3D printing. We’re providing a crowdsourcing platform for people who don’t know how to 3D model or who don’t know how to prepare something for 3D printing.
Explain a little bit about the crowdsourcing or the crowd part of it.
Let’s say that you’re a dentist and you hear a lot about 3D printing and the dentistry area where they create false teeth. It costs a lot of money to buy the machine. It costs a lot of money to hire somebody in-house and train them. Also, it’s difficult to find those people locally. Imagine if you could go to a site and you could find someone that’s qualified enough to make those things for you to standard. It’s exactly what you’re after and it’s 3D printable. The idea behind that is they can find someone to help them prepare a 3D print ready model. When this crowdsourcing contract starts, our platform allows the dentist to work with the 3D designer throughout the modeling process.
In the process, is the designer necessarily the same as the printer?
Not necessarily. On the site, we have two platforms. One is the crowdsourcing platform where there’s project or milestone managements plus transaction fees all tied in together. On that platform, it allows the dentist to look through the designer’s model as he builds it. We make it in a transaction safe environment. There’s an escrow account where the dentist would deposit the agreed upon amount for the design to start the task. It’s not released until the dentist is happy with the product, with the final result. At the same time, they can see on our viewer what the problems are in the model. They can see if it’s 3D printable and see what the price is to get it printed and all different materials.
If somebody who has a project is seeking some services here, can they decide to start a project and try to have that 3D printable model created? Originally, they would intend to have it printed but do they ever stop and decide, “That wasn’t what I expected. Maybe I won’t go all the way to print it.” Do they have options like that?
Yes, definitely. When you start a project, you’re not tied into a “have to print” contract. When you start a project, it’s free. Once you’ve entered the contract with a designer, you get to see what the issues are with 3D printing. Let’s say you don’t need to find a designer and you’ve already got a model ready to go. You can upload it to the site and you can see what the problems are with 3D printing. By that I mean, you can see if it’s 3D printable.
It still doesn’t mean it’s going to look good when you get it though. It could still be too small. There’s still could be problems but it’s printable.
In case it’s not printable, you’ll see what the problems are. With a click of a button, you can create a project. We’re trying to design it in a process that’s easy for the user. There are not many forms to be filled out. With one click, the project is created. When the designers see your project, they know exactly what to do to make it printable.
Let’s talk a little bit about those designers. How are you getting them? How are you qualifying them for how good they are or their capabilities within CAD?
Early on, you don’t have a lot of references and referrals and five stars.
On every single designer profile, there is a section for portfolio. There’s an area for them to add their portfolio. In terms of how do we qualify them, we let users to that. We let clients hire that particular designer to give feedback on the designer, which is public to everyone.
That will improve over time because you’ll get more experience and more people participating. The higher quality ones will be apparent.
Are you categorizing those designers like you would say one that are qualified for medical, others that are more art like or qualified for doing projects that are for injection molding eventually?
Yes, we are. On the user interface, on our website, when you’re searching for designers, there is a category section. It’s a drop-down section that you can select and then it will filter out the designers that fit your category.
Are your fees set across the designers or do they set their fees?
They set their fees. However, we’re working on milestone basis. The crowdsourcing platform is tied in with a milestone management system and also a transaction system. We’re not going with other websites out there that have contracts. We’re only doing milestone contracts. We’ve got a neat system that allows you to have a contract on a per milestone basis.
It seems like you’re paying as you go. If you get the results you want, you’re ready to move to the next stage and then you pay for that next stage.
They don’t feel like they’ve done too much work and got too little for it. It is an issue. We’ve had trouble getting paid in various projects when you don’t set your payments by milestone settings like things that you deliver at a certain time and then you get your next check to continue. As freelancers, that happens anyway.
My background is in visual effects and I’ve done some freelance work myself. In creating our platform and creating our websites, we do want to keep both users in mind. There are some websites out there that favor the clients. I don’t think that’s fit. Being a designer, we do a lot of work. There’s a risk. We do a lot of work and not knowing whether or not the client’s going to come through on the deal or not. The reason why we set it in milestones is because every milestone, there will be a certain amount of money that the clients deposited into escrow. That money is safe with us. The clients can’t download or can’t print the model unless they’ve released the funds. That means for the designer that their work is safe. The work that they’ve done isn’t going to get taken away and the client is going to run off with the model and not pay.
It sounds like a great system. It seems like you’re bringing together many different parts of the process of using 3D printing for real world projects. Companies have questions, “How do we do this?” “How do we do that?” Maybe they have some apprehension about doing it because it’s new to them, but it seems like you’re creating a safe and qualified environment to allow people to use either any part of that process or the whole process effectively.
It’s rewarding designers for good work, which is great. It’s helping the clients or the users, in your case. The users feel like everyone’s equally invested in the process. We always like to do jobs that way. That’s how we always like to do them so that everyone wins if the project is good.
We get a common question, which is what happens when there’s a disagreement? We approach that on a case-by-case basis.
That’s tricky but I’m sure that everybody who’s using your website and your service, it gives people that peace of mind that at least there’s a third party watching over this to maybe help mediate that and hopefully try to make everyone happy in the end.
How broad an audience in terms of designers and users has My Local 3D printing. You’re in Australia. Are you looking at designers outside of that area because you said you were having trouble finding them?
The majority of our designers are outside Australia. We’ve got designers from Sweden, India, England, New Zealand, and also in America. I don’t want to blow it out of proportion but I see the site as a place where anybody can get to.
It sounds like, at least on the designer side, it’s a legitimate global marketplace or at least a pool of design talent there to hire. What about having it printed and delivered? It sounds like you’re creating a version of 3D Hubs in a way where people that have a printer or printing capability could sign up to provide a service. Is that correct?
Right now, we want to strive for materials that are hard to find. With companies like 3D Hubs, usually the printers that are on there are desktop printers. It’s very rare that someone will have a $250 SLS machine in their house. You can only usually print IBS or PLA plastic. With our site, we’ve worked extremely hard to find connections throughout the world to find the best prices for high quality materials. We’re talking about materials like titanium, gold. We have Shapeways’ version of strong, flexible, white plastic. We’ve got 32 materials in total and close to 100 different types of colors and finishes.
I like that because I’m very vocal about colors.
It’s not much like 3D Hubs. You’re providing a conduit to high-end professional modeling capability.
What about the guy who wants to have a model created because he doesn’t know how to do that? At this point, he’s thinking about learning but he wants to have a model created so that he can test out an FFF 3D printer or an FDM 3D printer and think about buying that. He can take the file at that milestone and he can take it to a hub or someplace else to have that kind of machine print it.
Yes, definitely. When you have something made on our site in terms of design and 3D modeling, you’re not obligated to print with us. It’s an option to print with us.
That’s nice because there are a lot of sites where you can’t do that. I do think there are certain amounts of people who think they want to try and get a 3D printer but they like to test it out. It’s what we see a lot happen. Somebody will buy on Amazon or Etsy or another place. They’ll buy a 3D printed item, wanting it to be FFF so that they can see the quality of it. When we were talking to the UPS Store, they said they get a good portion of the clients who come in there to have something printed, which they’ve downloaded from somewhere that’s not necessarily the important part for them. They want to see the quality of what comes out of the machine. It’s good for them to see it on a machine that’s equivalent but it’s also great to have the others.
On that note, we’ve got that page where users can register the 3D printers. One of the ideas behind it is so that in the near future, we would have a big enough network where we can offer users to print from their choice of printer or we can have companies who have developed a new printer register with us. That way, they add their option to the users.
That’s a great idea because there are a lot of new printers out there and if somebody can upload their file and tries it out somewhere, that’s a great benefit to making a decision on a printer.
We’re connecting the users and the printers. That’s what our site is. It’s making that connection a lot easier.
You’ve been smart to cater to the businesses out there who could use 3D printing because there’s a more obvious return on investment for them from traditional manufacturing processes. They probably have more money to spend to hire the right type of designer to do those things than an individual or a hobbyist might. That certainly makes sense.
Also, focusing on satisfying the concerns of that professional designer because a lot of the sites, it’s hard to filter through the good, the bad and the hobbyists. If you are looking for that, it’s impossible to figure that out on most other sites.
Personally, one of my worries is not knowing who our customers are. The way we spend our marketing budget can be concentrated rather than spread out too much. We followed the lean start-up process where we come out with an MVP, then we test, review and release. It’s a learning process and we’re getting there slowly.
Part of that process is when you test and you find out, “I have different customers than I thought I have. I have to pivot.” It’s the next question that will come. Hopefully, you don’t have to do that too much.
With that process, we didn’t start out knowing exactly what type of customers or what kind of people our customers are but we’re getting closer with every pivot. Hopefully, it’s not 180 degrees. Every small pivot, we’re getting closer.
Tracy, we review a lot of these sites out there. We see a lot of sites that are inviting designers to create content and put it up to sell it. They’re inviting to create their content for things that they think people want to buy. I don’t remember any other site catering to having a pool of designers to choose from to help you do your project that you’re looking to hire somebody where they’re not putting up something they’ve created on their own. Have you?
No, I’ve not come across anything. Believe me, I would’ve found it if there was something. Maybe it’s not English. It could be in another country and in another language. I couldn’t have found it but I have not found that yet.
This is unique. To me, it’s exciting. We are designers here. We’re podcast hosts and we’re in business in a few ways. As designers, this is exciting to me.
We’re trying to be a proponent for those wanting to learn design as a part of 3D printing, and for those that are designers and want to learn 3D printing, and for those that are already 3D print designers. From that perspective, we want to cover the gamut because design is the most integral part of it and your recognition of that is novel in this market. You’re onto something, Bobby
It’s been missing and we wish you a lot of luck doing this. It’s definitely needed.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell our audience about what you think of 3D printing or maybe talk to some of the businesses out there who are thinking about 3D printing?
Thank you for your kind of words, both of you. Only time will tell how it goes. Like yourselves, I’m optimistic. Sometimes I feel maybe my visions are a little too out of reach. Our developers are working hard and making them come true. Thank you to my guys. We had a request by a guy named Jake House. He owns a company called 3D Laser Scan Pro. He’s wondering if we can do drop shipping with 3D printing. 3D printing, it’s drop shipping already because you’re making all these one-offs. However, he said he couldn’t find a business out there that could print and deliver on his behalf. We’ve taken that feedback and we’ve implemented it into our site. Everyone should be able to see this new design.
Definitely go to MyLocal3DPrinting.com and check it out.
The idea of that is businesses can customize labels, receipts. When their customers receive 3D printed products, it’ll be from them. It wouldn’t be from My Local 3D Printing.
That’s not even drop shipping. That’s private labeled 3D printing business. That’s novel.
I’m going to tell you, Bobby, you have a goldmine here. This is money. Do you know how hard it is to get traditional manufacturers to do this? You should be able to do this, no problem. It’s extremely difficult. The fact that you’re going to incorporate that is incredible.
Especially on a one-off basis so that you don’t have to commit to it. If you want to do private label manufacturing at a traditional factory in China or even in the US for that matter. The first question is, “What’s the volume? How many of you are going to do if I’m going to bother going to that effort?” If you’ve got a way with your website and your systems to streamline that and make it easy, I’m an industrial designer and I’m going to offer that service to my clients. It looks like it’s coming from me, that’s powerful.
Listen up all you people who apply to our contest because there are a lot of businesses out there who haven’t figured out that component of how they’re going to get it to market. This is a great way.
I hope everyone sees it the way that you guys see it. I’m hoping it goes well. We’ll see how it goes.
Certainly, it remains to be seen what parts of this will be successful and maybe what little parts of it might be less successful. I don’t know how it is in Australia but in the US at car dealerships, they have three main components to them. They got new car sales, used car sales and service. Usually, only two of those three make money for the dealership. The third one is carried but you got to have all three. You’re offering some unique things. Hopefully, that will work.
It might take one part longer to catch up to the others because there’s a lot of interest. There might as not be as many designers but that’s starting to catch up. Maybe there’s not as quite as many full-blown businesses going into it yet but it’s coming.
It’s also unique because you’ve got something for the businesses or even individuals looking to do a project. You’ve got something for designers and you’ve got, on a couple of different ways, either designers working on a project through your site or designers who are designing their own stuff for their clients. You’ve got a way to deliver private label product on their behalf. Those are some different things.
There’s even one more component in there because that idea that a new 3D printing company could test market their 3D printer is a great idea too. Thank you so much, Bobby, for coming on and telling us all about this. The best of luck to you.
Thank you very much, Tom and Tracy.
I am quite shocked with all the different things that MyLocal3DPrinting.com is doing.
It’s got a lot of breadth. I know that they’re new and not everything is working yet. It’s all coming in next releases and things like that but it’s worth being patient for.
There are some powerful things they’re doing. I’m most excited as a business owner and as a designer about this private label 3D printing service.
It’s even more than that. The great part about it is I’m excited as an entrepreneur and business owner. I’m excited as a designer because this solves many problems. I am excited about private labeled drop ship, access to machines and materials, and 100 colors. That is one of those things where he starts as a visual effects designer and understanding those concerns as a freelancer makes a difference here. It’s funny because I met Bobby through a post that I made on LinkedIn and some conversations that happened talking about the need for more power to the designer. What he’s offering here is a lot of power to the designer but all in a good way because there’s safety there.
He’s not taking anything away from the businesses that would hire the designer. There are advantages and safety for both of them. If you’re a business and you want to get into 3D printing, you have concerns. Who’s any good at this? Who can help you? Who knows what they’re doing? MyLocal3DPrinting.com is a conduit. It’s a bit of a marketplace. It’s somewhere where you can go if you have a project and you can go if you’re a designer and get matched up with a company that needs a product.
We’ve had a lot of designers who we’ve helped before. They started a project saying that they would offer 3D printing and then realized how difficult it was and then said, “I need some help. Let me call it Tom and Tracy and see if they can get me through this hurdle.” In this case, what can happen is that even the designer could go to another designer and get some assistance and then save face with a client. That’s awesome.
It’s a community. It’s true of the designers. That’s a community where they can learn from each other and help each other to an extent. It’s also a community for businesses to learn from what other businesses are doing in that experience. It’s powerful and it’s been missing. You think about all the sites in the US where designers can go to put up work and sell it. They’re all geared toward designers that are willing to create 3D files and post them up there and name their price for them. The designer is having to speculate on what people are going to want to download and buy.
It’s not a revenue model at all. That’s the point where we’re kidding ourselves in the way the market is. I don’t want to knock these sites because they’re doing a great thing to raise attention to 3D printing designs themselves items. If you think you’re going to make money on those sites, you’re kidding yourself. That doesn’t happen on Etsy. Why would it happen on these sites? Etsy is mature. Barely 10% of the Etsy market makes any money. It’s probably even way lower than that, but I don’t know for sure. We know that it’s less than 2% of the overall market makes any money off of their digital downloads or even designs being sold for any money. There’s hardly any market there. How are you going to make money? This is a way to make serious money because businesses there are looking for an actual designer.
They have projects that they need to do and they need help with that.
Bobby wanted us to be careful not to oversell and that they don’t have a lot of projects but they will.
It’s got a lot of potential. To be clear, we have no stake in them whatsoever. We’re jazzed at the idea because this is different. We haven’t heard of any company doing quite this model of business before.
I like it. It’s design in the cloud. Bobby has 100 colors and finishes in his stable of 3D print machines. I want 100 colors.
I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s our pet peeve and it’s our biggest frustration as designers. We need more color. To that end, we started a Kickstarter project and we have six new custom colors that Tracy, who is our resident color expert and with tons of experience in color and material especially plastic, created six colors that are missing in the filament market. What we’re trying to do is share the cost of producing these colors because it takes a lot of money to produce at least 300 spools of each color, which is the requirement in order to do it.
I don’t think a lot of people understand the coloring costs. You have to buy it by pounds and pounds of it. Not as much goes into the filament as you think it does because there are a lot of chemical fillers and things that you have to put in it and mix it with.
Even if you’re one of those people that like to extrude your own filament, it’s not practical to get these kinds of colors doing that. Also, the consistency of a professional grade filament requires high-end commercial equipment and quality control processes. This is very high-end. If you’re like us and feel like there are some missing colors out there, Tracy has worked hard to pick some that are of particular interest for certain different areas. We described that in the Kickstarter.
Audrey Aqua, I’m sure your daughter, wife, girlfriend, whatever, can tell you what that is because I can’t say it. Audrey Aqua is perfect. It’s beautiful. There’s the favorite Ice Queen color, which is for both.
Guys, I know what you’re thinking. You’re like, “What do I care about these colors?” Let me tell you, the woman in your life sees you 3D printing all sorts of stuff. Maybe you even tried to 3D print something for her but you probably have done it in the same old primary colors that everybody has. It makes a difference. She’ll respond to it much better if it’s in one of these colors.
We threw in some sports colors too. No one has a burgundy. Do you know how many sports teams and colleges have burgundy colors?
Crimson Red, USC or any number of the other colleges that have that. This is the color you need.
We’re in local USC territory, so we’d better say that.
Please check out our Kickstarter. You can either go to Kickstarter and search on filament and you’ll find us or we have HazzDesign.com/getcolor. It will take you right there. Please check it out. Help participate and share the cost in bringing these colors to reality. Thanks for following us. Don’t forget, you can come and ask us a question on our website. We’ve got a tab on every page where you can leave us a little voice message or you can send us an email. You can find us everywhere on social media at @HazzDesign. Thanks again for reading.
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