We have an interview today from across the pond over in France with two business partners and co-founders of a 3D printing ecosystem of printers, scanners, and software called Aniwaa.com. It’s Martin Lansard and Pierre-Antoine Arrighi. Aniwaa used to be a product comp chart kind of thing. We had used them a few times before, so we sought them out to talk to them about how they do their product comparisons. It turns out that they had really shifted their site into something much bigger, and it has evolved into Aniwaa 3D printing ecosystem, printers, scanners, and software. So we thought we should talk to them, which was why we invited them on the podcast today.
It started out as a blog with these product comp charts, which were awesome, because they would compare features between multiple printers, five or six of them at a time. Then there was a quick-sort as well. We thought it was a really useful tool, and have used it many times.
Now they have launched a whole new website that is trying to be a major resource for anybody looking at the 3D printing ecosystem of printers, scanners, and software. These guys are really product-knowledgeable and product-agnostic, as we like to call them; they are not tied to one product. It’s not a website from a product company pretending to be independent. They really are independent.
Listen to the podcast here:
Martin Lansard and Pierre-Antoine Arrighi of Aniwaa
Martin and Pierre-Antoine, thank you so much for joining us on WTFFF, especially from a great distance over in France.
You are very welcome. We are happy to be a part of this podcast today. As you mentioned, we are currently home in France and are flying to Asia in a few days, so the timing is great.
You guys are based in Singapore for your work?
The company is incorporated in Singapore, but Martin lives in Cambodia, and Pierre-Antoine is in Tokyo.
You’re really all over the world. Truly a virtual company then.
The thing is, when we decided that our little 3D printing blog could maybe become a company, I was living in New York at the time, and Pierre-Antoine was in Paris. But we knew both of us wanted to move to Asia, and that is also a region with a lot of growth across many industries. There was a lot of potential for 3D printing in particular.
In Asia, Singapore is a particularly good outlet for business and was completely easy to incorporate a company there. We were still able to set up the company there, despite being on different continents. That’s why we chose Singapore; it’s the best place in the area to set up a company.
A few months after that, for both professional and personal reasons, we ended up in Japan and Cambodia. It’s really a virtual company. When Martin was in New York and I was in Paris, we had six hours between us, and now it’s only two hours. So it’s a lot easier for us to work together and schedule calls. We are really a team.
Tell us about how the original blog started.
It was about three and a half years ago. I was working at Google at the time, and Pierre-Antoine was working at Dassault Systèmes, which is a big CAD software company and educator. We have always been passionate about technology in general, but particularly we had been following 3D printing, especially Pierre-Antoine because he was in touch with 3D printing at work all the time. In those days, there was not a lot of media attention on it. It was really something that professionals and specific industries knew about, but the mainstream knowledge for 3D printing was very low. Nobody really knew about it.
So we started sending each other links and articles, really trying to understand the root of the technology, the products that were available, the various print technologies, and so on. We quickly realized there was a lot of information online, but not one place where you could find simple explanations of applications, technologies, products, and so on. We had been discussing doing a project together as friends for a while, so we figured that this blog about 3D printing could be this project.
That’s exactly how we started our WTFFF podcast. We felt the same way. There was a lot of disparate information out there, but it was not all in one place. We just decided to podcast instead of blog, but we blog as well. I think that you’re exactly right. There is so much information, but it is all over the place.
Yes, exactly. Since then, there has been a lot of media attention. A lot of people talk about 3D printing now. You have way more websites and various channels that talk about 3D printing now. We also evolved during the past three years. The origin was more of a blog, but we quickly realized that we would not be able to keep up with the 3D printing news websites. They have a lot of writers on the staff, and they publish a bunch of viral news every day. We realized that was not what we really wanted to focus on.
We received a lot of good feedback and traction on the product comparison side of our website because when we started, we did a lot of comparison for 3D printers only. Maybe there were 100 models. But we realized it was useful for people to be able to check out different models quickly: different price ranges, the specs, side-by-side comparisons, and so on. So that’s what we decided to really focus on and stay away from the news side of 3D printing. We became a product-centric website, and that is really what we have been trying to achieve since then.
When you’re talking about being product-centric, are you considering what type of user uses this product? Is it more consumer or prosumer? Do you have a focus?
Not really. We really try to be comprehensive in terms of the coverage of the ecosystem. We see 3D printing as an ecosystem that involves many categories of products. You have the 3D printers; the 3D scanners, which are kind of less well known, at least from the general audience, but with a lot of potential; and the softwares, which is very interesting.
So basically, we wanted not to focus on the specific market segments, but really to be a destination where you can find all the 3D printers and scanners available on the market, check the prices, check the features you need or whatever criteria you need, and then the engine will give you a shortlist of what is available out there.
It’s good for users who already know what they want to create and what features they want so they can go on and really find the right one that does that.
Yes, absolutely. For people who have less knowledge about the machine that is best for them, we also have a free service where people contact us and we can try to identify together the case and decide if 3D printing is the best technology to answer it. Sometimes molding and forging might be better.
If we identify 3D printing as the best option, we also have people who do quotations and try to categorize the many hours and how we use the machine for many parts and the type of service they need.
We also have in-depth services for all kinds of audiences because sometimes even people with very low budgets ask us to help them decide what the best option is for them. Is it a desktop, a kit machine, or investing in a more efficient technology?
Of course, with a lot of professionals who are already users of production machines, we let them decipher what the best option for them would be.
How much experience do each of you have with 3D printing yourself? Not just in 3D printers, but also in creating content to be 3D printed.
I’m more the techie of the team (Pierre-Antoine). I started using 3D printing when I was in engineering school. During my first job, I was working with a small company that was later bought by Parrot, a French company that makes drones and stereo speakers. At the time, I was working on several projects that involved making new prototypes for digital musical instruments, and I was working with an FDM Stratasys machine. I was in charge of designing stuff for the machine, taking the constraints from the electrical engineer, which were big electronic cards. The designer wanted a sleek design, so I was trying to make them efficient and sleek at the same time. At the time, I was heavily involved in designing parts. I was using files from the designer and producing solid works.
So you have a good background in using the whole ecosystem, which is really important. A lot of the review boards that you see on the news information are done in a systematic way. They say, “Hey, we ran this model, and this is what happened. This is how the things worked,” instead of giving you features and benefits and really looking at it from a user perspective and how it works.
It’s really what we try to do on Aniwaa. We base our reviews and ratings on not just on our own experience, but also since we work with a global group of sellers, we get feedback from these guys as well. And also from our users, people who contacted us because they were looking for information on a specific product or that were in the early stages of purchasing a printer or scanner. Once they have done the purchase, we very often get long emails with a lot of details. You know better than us that makers can be very passionate. Every time we get those emails, we love it because we know it’s going to be an hour of reading this email, understanding and updating and enhancing the listing for that product on Aniwaa.
Are you still doing blog posts as a part of your site?
Yes, but we don’t want to publish those viral daily news updates. Since we launched the new version of the site in October of last year, we realized that we needed to start blogging again because for SEO on Google, we need to have some fresh content. New products are important, but blogging is important as well. So it’s something that we decided we needed to take into account.
We do blog, but we want to keep the product-centric approach. For instance, if you look at the most recent blog posts we have, we made a selection of handheld 3D scanners. The idea is not to put a ranking because it is very difficult to rank between a Fuel3D Scanify, which is $2,000 and a Creaform scanner, which is also portable but also much more expensive. We don’t want to rank necessarily, but rather, synthesize the information. If you want a 3D scanner, this is what is out there. Here are the price ranges and characteristics for each product as well as the use cases you might find this scanner useful for.
We also do the same for multi-color or full-color 3D printing; that is also something you often read about, but our angle is: What is out there today? What machines allow full-color 3D printing? In one place, you have those models that are actually full-color with the price range and so on.
This is nothing crazy, but we think there is value. We are showing users how to use our database. We see ourselves not as a 3D printing information site but more as a database, a resource of products that you can access through the computer. We are writing a blog post on the specifics of category of products from time to time, or the quality market reports that we started last year. Those are just entry points to a database; that’s how we see ourselves.
Do you have any idea how many printers are in your database right now?
Yes, I think we have more than 900. I think we have 200+ scanners as well. When we launched the new website, we imported the database from the first website, which was around 300 printers. Now we have 926 printers. Basically, we try to be as comprehensive as possible to have all the 3D printers available in the market. Obviously, we are struggling every day to add the latest products and keep that database updated.
In your 900+, you have SLA as well as FFF or FDM. You have all different types, correct?
Absolutely. Maybe this will change in the future, but right now, we want to be comprehensive. We have printers from the very entry level, DIY printer to the metal printer that will be used for aerospace industries. You can actually filter by technology. If you want an SLA printer under $5,000, you can see what is out there. We have a lot of room for improvement though because the database is getting huge.
At CES, I’m sure we are going to see a ton of new ones that we have never seen before. There seems to be a new one coming out every week. How do you guys keep track of that, making sure you are capturing everything? You must be doing this full time.
I am almost full-time. Business-wise, we aren’t really generating revenue, so we can’t both really be full-time yet. We didn’t build this with a business plan in mind. Our goal was to make a site that we and hopefully others would find useful, and hopefully at some point, we would be able to monetize it somehow. That was also something we introduced with the new website: monetization options.
To keep up, we split roles. Pierre-Antoine, who is more technical and hands-on with scanners, is only working half the time on Aniwaa because the rest of the time he actually works in the lab at Tokyo Tech University where he conducts a post-doctorate on virtual reality in 3D printing. That is excellent because there is a lot of synergy with Aniwaa since he has a lot of access to 3D printers and scanners. When he is working on Aniwaa, he will be doing market watch, getting in touch with manufacturers, making sure we get the right specs, or contacting our partners and making new partners.
On the market watch side, we have been debating this a lot, but we haven’t really struck up this conversation on the live podcast yet. 3D Systems announced that they are getting rid of the Cube and focusing on the prosumer market. What is your opinion on that?
3D Systems is a huge company, which has probably been mismanaged for a long time. It is very complicated. I can tell you that building the database, you can spend hours just trying to understand the product line of 3D Systems. It’s very complicated with their naming. They do need consolidation and focus. So it makes sense that they would move away from their consumer segments.
As for me, I’m not very confident for the near future because I think as long as you don’t have strong leadership with a very clear long-term vision for the company, they need to reinvent themselves. They were the ones coming up with industrial 3D printing systems, but now, it’s a different landscape, and they don’t have the same monopoly that they used to. So I hope they have this leadership in place very soon and they keep making these types of decisions. I think it’s a good one, but it’s definitely not enough, and it’s not communicated in a way or context that we can reap the benefits.
We own stocks of 3D systems, and we watch it every day.
You want it to work then. My specialty is in product line fixing; I am like an interventionist on product lines. When someone has a retail product line that is totally a mess, they usually come to us, and my specialty is figuring out what is wrong with it.
I can agree with you completely that the 3D Systems product line was a complete mess. But I think they may have made a significant mistake here. What they did was contracted down to their comfort zone of their past, and they didn’t leave an opening for the future. They are very comfortable with that industrial past because that is where they started, so it makes sense that they would do that, especially with the way they brought someone acting in interim.
I agree with you that they don’t have a leadership plan for the future, and that will really hurt them. I think they are missing the point by stating that their adjustment is a focus on the prosumer market. It is a statement that says that the consumer market isn’t the future. I think that’s a big mistake right there.
I completely agree. It’s also a big company culture issue. There was a long article in 3D Printing Industry that maybe you read. It’s extremely interesting; it’s an in-depth analysis of what led to the resignation of the CEO that happened late last year. There is a lot of insider anonymous feedback from people who say that the workplace is a nightmare for people in the company. When you build products and try to sell them to a customer, in the company, there already is so many issues that will reflect back on your sales and your product quality.
I would love to be more confident, but I think they are still in the rough patch. Hopefully this year, they will see some big changes in 3D systems. Overall, the market is not in great shape. 2015 was a very difficult year for the big players and every market segment. MakerBot and a lot of newcomers folded just a few months after entering the market because it is a very difficult market to enter.
I have a business coach who I totally love. She said to me the other day that my business was in this stage. The entire 3D printing industry is in the ugly teenage years, when it just looks messy and complicated. It is about to emerge into adulthood when it’s going to be great. We all have to go through this messy gap and keep holding on because the future market is going to have so much opportunity and potential. I will predict that at least part, if not most, of 2016 is going to continue to be messy, though.
Yeah, that’s also the way we see it. The analogy with a teenager is very good. It made us think about the consulting firm Gartner, how they have this hype cycle infographic that can apply to many industries, 3D printing in particular. It shows that in the beginning of the introduction of technology, you have what they call the peak of inflated expectations, where everyone thinks it’s going to be great and perfect and easy and the future is nothing but bright.
Shortly after that, you enter what they call the truth of disillusionment, which is the period we are in right now with 3D printing. People are realizing that it’s not so easy to operate a printer. It’s kind of expensive, and they can only print in plastic, etc.
After this very dark period, they call it the slope of enlightenment, which is more of a normal, steady growth. It won’t be as sharp as the peak of inflated expectations, but something more regular. Then the growth will be there.
We think that overall in 3D printing, we are still in the dark stages. Some sections of 3D printing are already encountering more growth. It will be interesting to see in 2016 and beyond what lies for the industry for sure.
I am interested to see what you think are some of the significant challenges that are affecting that growth level.
As a user myself, with the engineering education, because in my post-doc work I am using 3D printers daily and making demonstrations for students, I realize that—I don’t know if it’s because it’s difficult to get information—most people believe 3D printing is a magical process. When we go back to the basics, it’s just another manufacturing process. People who use this type of manufacturing understand that you need to have design skills to use dedicated software, and if you want to design an object that can be molded, you use different processes than if you need to use a different type of machine.
People believe that with a click of a button, you can do any object. 3D printing, like any other technology, has a set of rules. And I feel that there is still lack in the CAD software and 3D education of designers. There is still a need for them to be aware of the specificity of 3D printing and to be able to understand more than just 3D printing and all the processes around it. Everything is linked to the use case.
There is a need for the industry to learn more and maybe to exchange more with people who already know how to operate these kinds of machines. We need to have new education programs and courses for young engineers and technology enthusiasts to be able to operate those machines, which stands relatively complicated.
Do you see some opportunity in the market for 3D printed products? Products that are made through 3D printing and not just intended to be prototypes, but meant to be final products.
In the very near future, I think in two or three years, I think there will be a lot of use cases based on the fact that the 3D scanners will be available on laptops or smart phones. I strongly believe that the first use of 3D printers will stay in only printing plastics. Consumers will easily be able to fix broken objects and appliances like buttons, frames, or other supports like this. I strongly believe there is a value there.
But there is a need for the scanner functions to be more intuitive, the 3D software to be easier to use and install, and the CAD files to be easier to find. For instance, if you are using GoPro, I’m sure there are a lot of people who want to design their own accessories, but the knowledge gap for now is still too difficult.
I will say the first use for the consumer market will be the ability to fix and/or replace broken objects. I believe the following technology will be the ability to easily recycle the filaments because now in the process you waste a lot of plastic with misprints and drafts. I believe if you integrate a grinder to a 3D printer that can directly produce filaments and new objects from a broken one, it will have a real value, and it will be faster to adopt it in people’s houses.
I think it’s interesting that you mention that use comes first. That is our motto here. That is why we are “What the FFF.” You have to think about what you want to make first. When you figure out what you want to make, then it’s easier to make a decision on what to buy, what to look for, and what you need to learn. It’s always the starting point for us, and that’s what we named our podcast that and why we called our website 3D Start Point.
Explain how a company who needs to evaluate: Let’s say you’re an industrial manufacturing company, and you have heard about 3D printing. You need to figure out whether it’s a part of your future. Is that something they can come to you with? Obviously they have a use already.
Absolutely. If the company already has some kind of experience with 3D printing, the information they need to purchase the next batch of equipment is accessible with our website just by filtering and sorting a bit in the database.
Maybe they know already. People don’t only come to Aniwaa; they do a lot of research. So they probably already have various other sources of information. Maybe what is interesting in our case is that if they are looking for a metal printing machine, they will certainly know the 3D Systems one. But maybe they don’t know this new manufacturer in China or in France, so that is something they can discover on our site and then do side-by-side comparisons with existing models they are familiar with to see different print volumes, specs, or price ranges.
We can also provide early stage consulting. That is something we do right now in Tokyo. We work with a company by helping them build a product prototype by integrating a scanner into one of their existing products. We can’t say more at this point because we signed an NDA.
The idea is that you also have people who know they need a 3D scanner because they know they need to have a specific idea in mind, but they have no clue as to the terms of 3D scanning technology, products, price ranges, how to integrate it, or softwares. We can take care of that.
In this case, we collaborate with other various people at the client’s company and external sources, but we coordinate everything. For companies who need guidance on printers and scanners, that is also something we can do.
That’s great that you guys are providing a really independent resource to help people decide what kind of 3D printing machine and process is right for their application. And the whole ecosystem, not just printers. I wish you guys a lot of luck as you grow it. I hope you can do it full-time. Get through those teenage years because your resource is really useful. Hopefully you can make it through just like everyone else.
Thank you so much. That means a lot coming from you because we listen to your podcast on a regular basis. It has very interesting conversations, and we discovered some interesting things from it. The YouTube channels in particular were great from a couple weeks ago.
We are also in our teenage phase, despite being older than that. I think the idea is that we are doing our best as you mention to be independent. It’s very complicated because for instance, we just introduced advertising solutions because that is an obvious way to monetize an audience, especially when you have a niche topic like 3D printing.
We didn’t want to have banners on the site at first because we don’t really like banners. We use Adblockers; we don’t think it’s a great user experience.
In terms of format, we introduce what we called feature listing. If you are a manufacturer, you can bump your product listing to the top of the comparisons page for printers and scanners. That can be interesting to give your product a visibility boost to someone who is currently browsing our site and looking for product information.
The big challenge for us is not to be biased in terms of product ratings because companies are advertising on our sites. We see a bunch of disguised sponsored articles on the 3D printing news websites on a regular basis. Sometimes we can say it’s clearly advertising, and sometimes people who wrote the article are just from a specific brand but are not announced as such.
We really want to be independent, transparent, and clear. We will add a big featured label, and that won’t impact the rating, review, or other information we might have on the products. If we manage to stick to that and keep up with the pace of the product launch, then we maybe can make it through the dark teenage period and make the most of the adult years.
I think it’s realistic for everyone out there to expect that sites need to take in advertising. We are at the same stage on our podcast where we need to take sponsorship advertising. It has to be expected. If someone wants the useful resource that you provide, the income has to come from somewhere. As long as you’re transparent about it and disclosing what is an ad versus what is not, I think you’re on the right track. People have to expect that today.
I think the market is becoming mature enough that people can understand that the quality content comes from a lot of time spent on it. It’s a matter of transparency. You guys seem to be having a lot of fun doing the podcast and seem to really be in love with 3D printing. That’s the same for us. As long as we can survive doing this, I think we’re going to be fine.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us and our audience. Best wishes to both of you.
Thank you so much for having us on the podcast. Au revoir.
Tom & Tracy’s thoughts – Aniwaa 3D printing ecosystem of printers, scanners, and software
There really is so much to think and discuss about this interview. One of the things that strikes me is they decidedly have an engineering perspective, which is perfectly fine and acceptable in the 3D printing market. Don’t we want engineers evaluating these printers and giving us features and details and kind of specifics? Of course, we do. We do light engineering; I am a bit of an intuitive engineer, but I am an industrial designer, not a degreed engineer. We have more of a design focus, so our focus is a little different.
But I found while discussing the potential consumer market, what Pierre-Antoine said how he thinks that for people who need to repair broken items or products or make a replacement part for themselves, that is going to be the big consumer market. I don’t really agree. I think that will be there, but I don’t really see that as being the big consumer market opportunity.
This is where I think so much has gone wrong with 3D systems and the companies that are giving up on the consumer market. I think they are giving up too soon. And I don’t think they really understand the potential of the consumer market.
Etsy is a great example of a site that is filling a consumer market need. Now it’s not all techy by any means, but it is people looking to shop for things that they are not finding in big-box stores or on Amazon. They are a little more unique. 3D printing fits so well into that.
I do agree with what they said about the knowledge gap that is out there for consumers to be able to use 3D printing. Absolutely. But I do think the consumer opportunity is to meet the needs of that consumer that has that knowledge gap without them having to learn CAD, allowing them to enjoy this process.
That is the real problem right now. This is too hard because it’s not their core competence. Either they are a 3D systems manufacture or a CAD software company. Since their focus is actually getting more people to use CAD, they think the whole point is to educate and teach them. Not everyone is capable of using CAD even if they could learn the software. 3D design is complicated in its thought process, not just in the execution of commands on a software program.
I agree with you. I do think all those companies going out to the education market are totally important, and I 100% agree that CAD education is critical, and there is going to be a CAD fluency that exists in the coming generation. I can’t wait. This will be wonderful, and a lot of people will be able to help themselves. My grandfather couldn’t even use a computer; he was still using a typewriter to type letters or write his memoirs. When I tried to get him to use a computer, it was really a disaster.
This goes back to my sewing machine analogy that I have used multiple times over the podcast. So you take home ec in junior high school and learn how to use a sewing machine. Some of us come away with being able to create beautiful costumes and clothing that we create from scratch and can do with no pattern. Others of us will come away with the ability to take an existing pattern, sew it, and make it into something. Still others will come away with barely the skills to hem. It has to do with your particular talents and skill sets and how you can use the tool. But exposure to the tool is the only way you are going to understand whether or not you have an aptitude for it.
I agree 100%, but there are still plenty of people who want to start with a dress they buy at a local store, bring it into a tailor, and have it altered to make it fit them. That is one aspect. But then they also want to embellish it and make it more unique. That would be considered a prosumer use. I am also saying that a consumer isn’t going to sew it themselves and instead take it to a tailor or seamstress to modify it.
I think there is a consumer market out there today in the United States (I am not going to claim I know what is going on in other countries because I am not a part of the market) that if there was a way for consumers to go into a store, use a kiosk, and find something that made a product they were buying on a shelf from a store be even better, more personal, or do something unique for them, they would do that if they understood they could.
That is where the gap of understanding still is. They still don’t understand what 3D printing is or what it can do. They still think it’s magic. It’s not magic; there comes with it a lot of complications and design process that has to happen. And that’s where I say the missing link is.
The biggest challenge right now is communicating the fact that the design challenge exists; you can find skilled labor and hire that out, you can create it, and once you do, you create a demand for 3D printing that you never knew existed. That is where the secret to the consumer market lies: creating its own demand through product and design library.
People never even knew they needed or wanted a smartphone until the smartphone was created. People already had phones. It dials phone numbers. What else do I need it for? Well, they didn’t know. Texts are going to be a thing, Internet access, apps. Nobody knew they needed it until it was built. So people with vision have to go and create the awareness that people need and want things. Isn’t that why we started the podcast? It is.
That interview was a really good interview, and I am very happy that Martin and Pierre-Antoine spent all that time with us and shared what they are doing because it is a very valuable thing. There are a lot of companies that need the information they are providing, and I think they will be a great resource.
It seems like most of their user base is not in the United States; I read an infograph that says only 20% of their users are in the United States. But I think it needs to grow because their resource is huge and really is showing you worldwide printers, a lot of Asian printers that are coming on to the market.
If you are in the general market and you’re not consumers buying this or users at home, I think you need to listen to this: This is the time to start advertising. They were talking about sponsorship and advertising and featured ads. That is the missing link right now. No one is rising to the top. There are 926 printers on the market, and I can probably name 26 off the top of my head. I am in the industry, and I know what’s going on here. That is how many you are competing against. It’s so hard.
So if you are one of those 926 printers, and there are probably several manufacturers making multiple printers. Let’s say there are at least 500-750 manufacturers; that is still a lot of manufacturers. How are you going to rise to the top as a manufacturer and get exposure and allow people to find you? You need to be a part of resources like this, and I think you need to consider advertising so you rise to the top when someone is searching on the criteria that fits what you are providing.
This is what we have been out there starting to pitch sponsorship advertising for our podcast here. I hope all of you listeners help let that happen and don’t object to it; I hope we don’t lose you. But it is the reality of it. We want to be able to keep going and doing what we want to do. If these guys want to be able to keep adding printers to that resource library and keep it current, then they have to take in advertising. It’s just the realities of business today. You have to start generating revenue somehow to support the costs.
We are at that same stage. What we have discovered as we have been going out there and comping is that the pricing for podcast advertising, blog advertising, and website advertising is all really reasonable.
If you don’t have this kind of advertising in your budget as a 3D printer manufacturer, a software manufacturer, or a scanner manufacturer, then you are making a huge mistake right now. This is the place where people who are making informed decisions are going and seeking information. You want to be associated with that.
It’s a very focused audience, too. We know that people who are listening to our podcast or are going to our website are really looking for solutions for 3D printing; it’s not like you’re advertising in some magazine or wider medium that has a much broader range of consumers and are hoping to get the 10-15% of them who actually are your customers. It’s much more focused. For the price, it’s very good. So I am encouraging people to go out there and really think about it because you have to rise to the top if you are one of 926 printers.
To be honest with you, out of the 26 that I can name off the top of my head, very few of them are unique in and of themselves. They each think they are one-upping each other, but they are all relatively similar. Not a lot rises to the top in terms of features and benefits. Maybe there is some customer service that rises to the top where there is really good service backgrounds or product support or good reliability. Some of those things rise to the top. But the actual features and benefits that most people are selling on or the things that you read when you read Make Magazine’s reviews, they are all the same to me. There is a lot of similarities in them.
You make a good point about customer service. We talked about that in a recent podcast a couple weeks ago about exceptional customer service. That is something that nobody really advertises or talks about when they are trying to sell their printer. It is such a critical issue, I would think. You should put on your ad that you have great support; people care about that. You’re not alone once you buy the printer! We’re not just looking to ship you a printer and then talk to the hand, we’re not interested.
What you put in an ad is just as critical. A lot of times you think the printer is going to sell itself, but it just doesn’t. it’s not the critical part.
The tough part about what Martin and Pierre-Antoine is doing—like I said, it’s a valuable resource, and I admire and support what they are doing—is that they haven’t experienced each of those 926 printers. They are gathering information from the manufacturers, putting it into their database, and comparing it on its face value. Pierre-Antoine has some experience with 3D printers, but it’s probably a couple dozen at most of 926.
That is something that we try to do in the podcast in reviewing actual printers, experiencing them, and giving them a more in-depth review. That is a nice thing to do, but even we couldn’t do it with 926 printers. We can do one a month because of the amount of time it takes us to devote to that; we can add 12 a year to our reviews.
The point in that is yes, we are a resource for all of you out there in this 3D printing market, but you need several resources to be able to get your information and guide yourselves. I don’t see us as being in competition with them; I see us as cooperating with each other and helping raise awareness in this market and overall.
Anyway, we hope you found this as useful as we did. Check out their site: aniwaa.com.
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