Additive manufacturing is one of the many extremely useful applications of 3D printing technology in the real world, turning out products ranging from medical implants to airplane parts. Based in Dayton, Ohio, Tangible Solutions, Inc. is one of the leaders and innovators in the additive manufacturing space, specializing in 3D printed orthopedic implants and other medical devices. Joining Tom Hazzard and Tracy Hazzard on the show is Adam Clark, the company’s CEO and President. While envisioning the tremendous potential of additive manufacturing in the larger manufacturing space, Adam candidly recognizes its limitations that he thinks 3D printing players should seriously consider for the good of the entire industry. Listen and learn why 3D printing is not for everyone, and why recognizing that as a fact is the most sustainable model for the industry to move forward.
Listen to the podcast here:
Tangible 3D Printing With Adam Clark Of Tangible Solutions
Our guest is Adam Clark of Tangible Solutions.
The Chief Strategy Officer of Tangible Solutions.
They’re a company that’s not old. They started in 2013. They’re in the Dayton, Ohio area and we’ve met a lot of people from the Dayton, Ohio area. It seems to be quite a community of engineers, entrepreneurs, tech startups and inventors in the Midwest.
It’s a hotbed of it. When it’s cold and snowy, you’re going to be glad you’re in your garage 3D printing, or your basement or doing all of these things. You’ve got to find something to do.
This Tangible Solutions is no basement operation. This is a serious service provider doing things for the defense industry, among other things. They started small but they’ve grown into a rather robust resource for additive manufactured parts and products. It’s quite an interesting interview that goes in a few different directions but are valuable and our readers will appreciate it. Let’s go to the interview and learn from Adam.
Adam, thanks for joining us. I’m looking forward to talking with you about engineering, prototyping, and all sorts of business to business type services.
I’m looking forward to it.
Tell me a little bit about you, Tangible Solutions and how you got into 3D printing.
Tangible Solutions started up in about 2013. We were all defense contractors working for a company. Chris and Charlie, who founded the company, came to me one day and said, “We’re looking to bring someone else on the team that we’ve got here and take 3D printing to the next level. Start focusing on more business to business, defense opportunities.” That’s how we came together. We all knew each other prior. In a previous life, I was a Green Beret and I knew a lot about Defense Acquisition working with SOCOM and with some of the elements of Air Force in terms of getting products. That was a market that we wanted to pursue pretty heavily. We started up in a garage with two printers. We started pumping out parts through. Their orders turned from a couple of hundred dollars to a couple of thousand dollars. The customer base doubled. People were starting to see a lot of the advantages of using additive manufacturing for their prototyping, and even for their low quantity production.
Let’s talk about the advantages of using 3D printing for prototyping. What do people find are the biggest advantages?
The real advantages are with parts that have complex geometries. Where the designer has designed a product not necessarily ready for manufacturability yet, but there’s still a lot of internal engineering that needs to go on. Where the complex geometries don’t lend itself well to getting something machined quickly or getting something machined at all because the part is so complex. That’s one of the big advantages of additive manufacturing and also are the lead times. Our lead times for ABS thermoplastic parts are 3 to 4 days. The metal parts are ten days. PolyJet is about five days. There’s a lot of time and money spent waiting on parts to come in where we’re able to turn parts quickly. Engineering companies or manufacturing companies can keep up with the pace of producing parts or producing whatever it is that they’re trying to get to market and do it in a quick fashion.
Are you finding that a lot of the businesses that are coming to you and the customers who are using it have already been 3D printing with FFF or small printers, just in the iterative process of the design?
It varies. It’s probably 50/50. A lot of people will come in and say, “Quote this for me.” We can’t just quote that. We’ve got to take a look at the part orientation on the machine, support material. Can we take some of these assemblies and put them together in one print so we don’t necessarily have to run a couple of different parts? Some people will have experience with the MakerBots or the smaller end machines. Sometimes I get a little cringy when I hear customers come in, especially business customers because a lot of companies in our area have been turned off by additive manufacturing. They go out. They buy a $3,000 MakerBot and they’re like, “This isn’t meeting our needs.”
Some of our perspective as both designers and from a lot of the people who call in to the podcast and who we talked to at trade shows and everything, though, is that the iterative process of being able to 3D print yourself on a business side, not on a consumer side is very useful. Because when you model in a computer, when you do CAD, it’s hard to feel it, touch it and make sure that size is right. The perspective of creating a model in CAD in terms of scale in the real world. Things look different on the screen than they are in a physical model. We’ve experienced it. I do it all the time where I make a model and I print something. Some things surprise me and I make some changes once I see that first model.
We’ve been hearing a lot of people who are. You’re saying you’ve got a mix of 50/50. Maybe it’s because of the higher tolerance and specific type of businesses that you’re working with. The use of the FFF 3D printer is helping their process of design, but their output, we agree. Their output needs to be precise. It needs to be the right materials. It all needs to happen with a prototype house that’s got the best machines.
We’ve had a couple of customers who have gotten prints for check fixtures, whatever they may be. We can hold a 40-micron tolerance with metals, but then we evaluate it from the Z-axis and you can’t because it’s doing it layer by layer. It all depends on what you’re using it for, what your industry standard is, and what your company standard is. Some people are okay with getting something that’s not necessarily perfect, but then they can take it and finish it up by tapping a few holes here and there that need to be tapped. Understanding how to take your design and optimize it for the process that it’s going to be printed.
Adam, I’d like to know a bit about how your company deals with managing customers’ expectations with regards to if they give you a file for a CAD model that is not of the quality it needs to be, or if you need to do some work with it. You’re mentioning putting parts together and doing some things like that, so obviously you do some engineering work on the files.
When a customer brings us a part, let’s say, for the first time, we’ll take a look at it. We’ll try to understand first what they’re going to be using this for. What’s the end result that they’re looking for? Who is this for? Is it for a customer? What environmental constraints are we limited to? We have a 10 to a 15-minute conversation about what they think this is all about. We’ll take a look and we’ll either confirm some of their beliefs. If they need to come in, we’ll bring them in, show them the machines, some parts, the different tolerances and qualities that you’re going to get, and what you’re going to get for your price.
It’s funny that we’re talking about this because when we were first starting to ramp up and have a lot of customers come in, we noticed that there was not a lot of awareness about additive manufacturing or what it was. We’re spending a lot of times with customers. We ended up partnering with Sinclair Community College up in Dayton. We started offering leadership breakfast briefings. Come in for 2 to 3 hours, we’ll provide breakfast and we would run down the main types of printing and materials, how people are using it and taking advantage of the technology and where it’s going in the future.
That right there, just sitting down and giving people an overview of the history, the materials, and the processes have done a lot of wonders. It’s getting people to think internally to themselves or their team, before coming to us. Working on their designs and trying to do what they can before they bring it to us. That’s helped with the learning curve. That’s what some of the hurdles are and education on, “What am I going to get, and what is the expectation in terms of tolerances and quality when it comes off the machine?”3D printing does not work on everything. You’ll hurt the entire industry if you try to 3D print anything just to get in the business. Click To Tweet
We’ve heard from some companies that a lot of times they have to do a lot of work on someone’s file before they can print it and that work is costly. Also, pricing that service is difficult. Do you absorb that into your cost of the print, or do you have to charge them an hourly rate for doing that CAD work or engineering if need be? That can be an obstacle for some people. They think they’re going to make a profit doing a service business like this. They get into it and find out, “I’m spending a lot more hours than I expected.” Did you go through any of that?
Yes, we did. At first, we take a look. An hour here, an hour there, turned into five hours, then you start getting into issues with messing with someone’s design. What we did was, first of all, evaluate it, “Is this something that can be 3D printed with quality or not?” If it can’t be, we’ll go back to the customer, give them a few recommendations, and then let them take it from there, come back to us when they’re ready and then we’ll reevaluate it. Most customers have started to essentially rely on our expertise because we’re dealing with this stuff every day. We’re working with the printers and running the parts. We’ll charge an hourly fee. We’ll give them an estimated 2, 3, 4 or 5 hours, whatever it’s going to be, and it’s a time thing. If we come in under that, we don’t charge them the full amount.
That’s helped us vet out our customers a little bit more too, rather than getting everyone off the street who wants to get something 3D printed because they have a good idea. If they’re not willing to spend a couple of hundred dollars on design services, then in all reality, they may not be the best long-term customer. They need to go back and reevaluate what it is that they’re doing, or do a little bit more work or, maybe this helps justify their idea of, “Maybe this isn’t such a good idea if I can’t spend $200 to $300 on some design services.”
Sometimes you say this isn’t the best item to be 3D printed. Maybe your success is that you understand all of the technologies where we’re getting a lot of startups that are 3D printing only companies and that’s all that those people are trained in. They don’t understand the other manufacturing possibilities because sometimes these parts might be 3D printed, to begin with, but they need to end up the cast, injection-molded, or something later. You could design them out of being able to do that. That’s what we find a lot.
That’s something you have to keep in mind at the beginning too. We may optimize this design for the process, but again, it goes back to that conversation of, “What is this ultimately going to be?” Is this going to be a door handle that you’re going to need millions of? If so, we’re not going to optimize the design for 3D printing. We’re going to print it as is or break it down to parts. It’s understanding what you’re trying to do with this, and not just in terms of processing your prototype, but who is this for and why? We can understand that. We try to look for what we call the red flags. We look for every single red flag of why something should not be 3D printed, or what other alternatives we could come up with, that would be a better alternative.
Business is all about relationships. We want to make sure that people are getting the most bang for their buck. We know we’re talking about not just from additive manufacturing, but from more of higher-level manufacturability of products and parts. Dayton is heavy in manufacturing specifically automotive and aerospace. There are a lot of shops out there that can do a great job and give a customer a great price. Sometimes additive is just not for it. I don’t want someone to come to us, give us a part and then not be satisfied with additive manufacturing. That’s only going to hurt us and them down the road when the time does come where they have a part, a piece, or a project that could rely heavily on additive manufacturing. I don’t want to leave a bad taste in people’s mouths. I want them to feel comfortable coming to us knowing they’re going to get an unbiased decision about their product and expertise about getting it manufactured correctly.
You’re a person in a company of integrity if you’re not just trying to get whatever business you can even if it doesn’t necessarily need to be 3D printed, which we’ve seen a lot of. Some people do that. It hurts the market as a whole. It hurts 3D printing in general when you’re printing the wrong thing.
That’s the problem. There’s been so much hype over the last few years. We call our breakfast briefing, 3D Printing Beyond the Hype to get through and say, “Here’s all this stuff where you can print a little trinket, elephant and toys.” We’re more focused on how can we take this stuff into space? How can we rework combat strategy to integrate correctly at an enterprise level of how to use additive manufacturing downrange or within global logistics systems? Where can we strategically place these machines? What are the processes for tracking validation materials? All that ISO stuff that comes with certifying parts. That’s what we’re focused on and those are the type of customers we’re working with.
In business, 3D printing is a means to an end. It’s not the end.
It’s not good to take on all these different projects if it’s not a good project to take on for additive manufacturing. When you’re a startup and you’re starting up the business, we’re graduating out of that startup phase a little bit and maybe that’s us saying that but it hurts to turn down a project if it isn’t a good fit. You want to take it, do it and figure it out. In the end, it’s got to be about your core. What do you do as a business? If you’re a 3D printing service provider, don’t get into taking on a customer just so you can outsource the mold, or so you can outsource the casting. Don’t do that. Go to the person that does the casting, make the connection there. That’s two new avenues of potential business in the future that you could be tapping into by connecting people.
We call that power partnerships. We have to thank Kelli Holmes from Team Referral Network for that one. Kelli calls it power partnerships, but that’s it. You should have power partnerships. People who are feeding your business potential good qualified customers and ones that you feed good qualified customers. Your businesses have a similar customer but not similar services. They’re complimentary. We believe that if you act in that way, what you’re giving to that other person, company potential customer is you’re not making any money that time, but that’s going to come back to you ten times what that short-term job would have been.
Not to just get more into the business aspect of it, but when you break down sales and you call someone for the first time, or you send an email, most salespeople will stop after 3 to 5 calls and never follow up. It takes a full year for someone to buy into you, whatever you’re selling, or whatever you’re providing. If you can make connections without the industry and then enable these other industry players, say these guys could do castings and you refer a customer to them, they’re now going to be curious about you. What you provide and how they may be able to utilize it and return the favor. It’s about winning the hearts and minds of other people within the community of manufacturing. We have to stop thinking about additive manufacturing as our community, it’s part of something bigger.
We have to stop preaching to the choir and start getting out there.
These shows that we go to. I noticed there are a lot of 3D printing shows that are additive manufacturing people speaking to a crowd of additive manufacturing people. Additive manufacturing needs to get into some of these other bigger manufacturing shows and show the bigger manufacturers how to take advantage and educate them. Not that engineering manager who might have a part for you one day, but try to get into the CEOs of these companies. Start talking to them about the big picture of additive and all these little places within your company that you can increase your bottom line, that’s what they’re going to be interested in.
On the spectrum of additive, you have all these big stuff up top materials and long-range research and development. On the bottom side, you have your service bureaus. There’s this gap in the middle thereof everyone who could take advantage of additive manufacturing, but they don’t know enough, and so they’re not. They’re going to keep doing things the way they’re doing them until the people at the top doing the high-end research and the people at the bottom doing the bureau service stuff will meet in the middle.
You bring up a great point that if it’s not a sustainable business strategy if you are spending too many hours, you’re essentially losing money, even though you think it’s your startup and it’s your time. You have to watch that point at which you emerge out of that startup. You’ve done enough business for awareness sake. It’s time to be taking only a profitable business.
Value your time. That’s another misconception too with customers coming in the door. They’ll say, “I want to I want to get this printed.” I’m like, “That’ll be $1,000.” They’re like, “$1,000? I thought it was going to be cheap.” I’m like, “Cheap is in the eye of the beholder.” We started early with fair pricing. The price we give you is the price you get. We’re not going to negotiate that because we value our time. If you’re serious about this, you’ll do that. You’ll find that 20% of your customer base that will be profitable and everybody else is static that you have to sift through. I’m not saying that they’re not important, but a lot of people want it cheap and quick. They think 3D printing is the route. That’s not necessarily true because you have your own engineering time, the overhead to keep the computers running, the pencils sharpened, and the lights on. You have the actual material, build plates and the machines themselves. If you price things fairly, don’t negotiate down off that. It is what it is. That’s what we say all the time. Sometimes, when I want to get something, I’ll go to Chris and say, “Quote this project for me.” He comes back and I’m like, “That’s a lot more expensive than I thought.” We look at each other like, “It is what it is.”
That’s a good attitude to have. I’m glad to hear that because that’s the sustainable model that’s going to go forward because the biggest problem that we see is that a lot of these companies are saying, “3D printing can do everything and anything.” That’s not necessarily the case. You need to find your place in that, your key customer, and where that business is profitable, sustainable and exciting to you. When we were at the 3D print show at California in Pasadena, which is another one of these, 3D print shows of 3D printing companies talking to 3D print people. Maybe there were some people who are new to it coming in to check it out. Even different though, a CEO of a 3D printer manufacturer was giving a talk. He’s talking about this very worthy project of how a certain organization used their printer to make a prosthetic arm for a little girl whose family otherwise couldn’t afford a $40,000 conventional prosthesis.
It’s the same story we told about Faith Lennox. We have that. It’s our sixth podcast or something like that. It’s the same story, but the point is that they talk about it like it’s $50. They touted, “You buy a 3D printer and you can make a prosthetic arm for $50.” While there is some truth in that, he’s basing that number on the materials cost pretty much alone and maybe the electricity to run the machine. He’s doing a disservice to the industry, not that it isn’t a completely worthy project, it was and that girl needed that arm. It was very philanthropic.
The keyword is philanthropic.You should have power partnerships with people who feed your business with good customers and whose business you do the same for. Click To Tweet
That is not a sustainable business model for anyone in 3D printing. They said they had 150 to 200 hours, something like that of engineering time into it and a similar amount of time in testing and iterative printing. That means that prosthetic arm probably cost over $10,000 in the reality of real value.
It is still a deal.
It is, no question. The other thing they also don’t talk about is that the models that come from the core company are all subsidized because they have huge government grants to be able to make those models available to you, which you then have to customize. That’s where all the time was in customizing the fit to her limb, but the original model they didn’t develop. It came from e-NABLE and they have grants and subsidies. There’s a support for them.
They have a sea of people volunteering their time. There are a few words that I despise, collaboration and consortium. I don’t like the word partnership in the wrong context. I don’t like it when people come to me with a project and say, “A little sweat equity on your end.”
We don’t like sweat equity, that’s for sure.
I’m putting my sweat equity in now.
That’s what my business is.
We’re not into your sweat equity. You do your thing and I’ll do my thing. Partnership in the right context, to me, is where a company comes to us, sees us as a valued partner because of the services that we provide. The knowledge and leadership that we have when it comes to additive manufacturing, and how we can help their business. We work together as they pay us to supply parts that are of quality, and we continue that business relationship. I’ve seen that a lot where people are like, “It’s so cheap.” It’s so wrong to tout this is cheap because the technology is not cheap for the consumer-grade. I’m not about to go out and buy a $3,000 printer for my four-year-old to mess around with. That’s still expensive. It will come down over time, but we’re not there. People need to recognize that it’s not always about the dollar. Sometimes it’s about the time because time is money.
The last thing I want to touch on before we go is that you’re mentioning that it’s not ready yet. The industry isn’t ready. 3D printing isn’t ready for everyone yet in every market, but that doesn’t mean that businesses shouldn’t be reaching out to service bureaus and engineering services like yours. That’s the time at which you can experiment without investing. It’s a good time to be seeing what 3D printing can do for your industry, your business, or your personal life if that’s your choice. It’s a good time to do that, just have realistic expectations on the cost of that.
It’s about going out and educating yourself. If your product can be made with a plastic or a metal and it’s relatively small like foot by foot by foot-ish, something like that. You should be educating yourself on what additive manufacturing is. Not from, “I need to beat it. I need to get in front of an additive.” Learn how to embrace it for what it is, just understand it. In a few years, when big area additive manufacturing machines start coming out in mass, you can take advantage of it. It’s all about taking advantage of the technologies that are out there. Many people look at additive as a disrupter to their business rather than something that can help their business.
It’s like somebody who started in business before the advent of email saying, “I’m not going to use email because I like writing letters.” They’re going to be so slow at doing their business. It’s not going to help them. Why ignore 3D printing? That’s exactly why we got involved. We kept saying, “It’s time to research, understand and build skills.” We saw tremendous advantages once we started doing it and also tremendous costs of the design time and hours taken to be successful at it at what our expectations are. We don’t do any design work for anyone in 3D printing. We only do it for ourselves. We can’t value the time enough. We believe it’s going to come. In the meantime, we’ve been educating ourselves and building our design skills so that it’s a lot easier for us than the next design firm.
To expand about executive leadership, looking at how they can take advantage of it. It’s not just from a capital equipment standpoint, it’s also from a human capital standpoint. We have a fourth-grade class, Kettering Springdale Elementary, I believe. They come over and these are 4th and 5th graders that ask us more technical questions than some of our big-name customers that walk through the door. When you think about that, these fourth graders are going to expect this technology to be available in high school. They’re going to make their decisions on where they want to go to college on, “Do they have 3D printers? Do they have additive or advanced manufacturing stuff?”
When they enter the workforce, they’re going to look around and go, “Why would I work there? They don’t have any 3D printers.” “I’ll go to work there because they have 3D printers. They have the tools to help me think.” This 4th, 5th, 6th all the way through 12th graders are the generation that’s going to make an impact. Everyone’s talking about equipment, but you’ve still got to have people to run that equipment and design products for that equipment. Just like the internet is to my generation, it’s second nature for me to be like, “Google, where is this restaurant?” It takes me there.
Google is a verb.
We’re going to my wife’s math teacher. We’re going to talk to their class about what the job market looks like for additive manufacturing. It’s all these kids who have expressed interest that they want to learn more about 3D printing, what it is and how they can get involved. We’re going to tell them, “This is the technology. This is how you can get involved. They’ve got a couple of 3D printers at the school.” Evaluating technology is as important as evaluating the human capital that companies are going to be either losing or gaining because they have or have not the technology.
We hadn’t thought about it that way in terms of applying to colleges. In my field, if I were applying to colleges now, this would be critical. If colleges aren’t thinking about this, they are going to have trouble. That is a good point because a lot of our readers are college students who got through their programs. It happened to us also in the CAD world. The CAD came into the college while we were there, but it wasn’t a part of the curriculum because no one knew how to teach it yet.
That’s the same thing happening with 3D printers in colleges. A lot of colleges do have them in their labs and other things, but they don’t have a specific curriculum, or they’re just developing it. What’s happening is that there’s a set of graduates who have been graduating in the last few years who don’t have the experience, but know they need it. They know enough to know that they need it, but they didn’t get it formally and they’re out there looking for it. They’re looking for online classes. They listen to our podcasts and ask us questions. They’re experimenting themselves.
I’ve decided to call the CEO of MakerBot, Jenny. I ended up getting ahold of her and I talked to her for a minute. I said, “What do you think is the most effective route for them to take?” She said, “Community colleges. Go to community colleges because their curriculum is a lot more adaptable to what is going on in the workforce.” That’s what community colleges do. I’ll use Dayton, for example, Sinclair is building their workforce development as it comes to additive manufacturing. People are coming in and taking classes. They’re going back out to the workforce. That’s the area where they’re not subjected to all the rigmarole that four-year universities have to do to get the curriculum in the door.
They have to be adaptable because they have to attract. In a sense, a consumer-based transaction. They have to be attracted to it and anything that’s more applicable to applied technology is always better. Adam, we appreciate you taking the time with us. We could not agree more about some of the things that we’ve talked about making sure there’s enough human capital, that you’re valuing time and time is money and that you need to build a sustainable business model. Good luck to you.
Thank you. Best of luck to you. It was a pleasure speaking to both of you. I look forward to following you guys and we’ll stay in touch in the future.The 3D printing industry is not yet ready for everyone in every market. Click To Tweet
Adam had some great points. I enjoyed our conversation there, especially about executive exploration. Executive leadership of companies looking into how additive manufacturing might apply to their business and how they can use it.
This is a classic model for a lot of businesses and that’s where we come back to why businesses need to consider 3D printing. It’s a viable model to outsource and test until you figured out what it is you’re going to do. How you can exploit it? How can you save your company money? How it can be improved? How you can integrate it into the process yourself? These kinds of companies are the perfect transition for that model. Not only that, but they can help set you up. They’ll go further in their consulting beyond providing you engineering support and printing. They’re going to go further and they’re going to help provide you strategic planning, how to get implementation plans, how to get it into your facility.
What came across from Adam is that they’re not out to print a part and send you out the door with it. They’re trying to make sure what is your goal for this part or this product? What are all your goals? Is additive manufacturing and 3D printing appropriate for that? Also, helping people understand the realities of 3D printing and what additive manufacturing can do. That communication with the customer and building a long-term relationship is their goal. They’re not just there to make a buck. It makes a lot of sense. 3D printing, as he pointed out, is not easy.
No. We say that and people get a little upset, like, “You’re scaring people off.” We don’t want to scare you off. We think it’s worth it. If it were easy, everyone would do it. It’s hard for a reason. It’s hard because you need to be good at it, but you need to be realistic about how much time, resources, and money you’re going to put into it. You allocate that especially if this is a business venture for you.
I enjoyed hearing about how Adam and his company are also going out into the community and education. They’re going to be talking to a fourth-grade class about additive manufacturing. It was interesting how he said that the students, in a lot of ways, get it better sometimes than the adults do and can see the vision a little more easily. That’s great because that next generation’s coming up that are going to help take 3D printing take that bigger leap forward in terms of adopting it and mainstream acceptance of it.
We’ve talked before on another podcast about how the biggest complaint we get is, “It’s little plastic things.” Granted, the design is ugly, and they are ugly plastic things a lot of times, but the reality is that we all have a frame of reference for a lot of ugly plastic things. Have you walked into Walmart? Have you walked into Target? Have you walked into these stores? They’re full of plastic things, but our kids don’t have that preconceived notion that plastic thing is bad. Think about the little plastic toys that they’re so excited about. They already have that missing. Their bias is there to be interested and excited to see possibilities.
Those youths are interested in what the objects are. The kids don’t know anything different. They’re not looking at it as, “It’s cheap.” They’re looking at it for what it is in its function, its appearance, and its value to them.
These service bureaus that are popping up in places, you need to go for a high touch service bureau. That’s what Tangible Solutions is in a more technical and engineering demanding area of the market specifically. It requires a build of a relationship. You have to understand what they want to make. I’m so glad finally somebody says, “It’s all about what,” because we say that every day here. It is all about what. You have to understand what they want, what their goals are, and where they’re going with it because you cannot design, engineer and print it properly without understanding those things. There are too many decisions that you’re going to make along the way that is going to send it in the wrong direction, and then you’re going to have someone who’s dissatisfied. I send it off to you and I’m responsible for telling you exactly what it’s supposed to turn out to be. That’s a little naive to think that type of service bureau works when most people don’t understand 3D printing, to begin with. They don’t know that their file is not good. They don’t know what their requirements are. They don’t get it. That’s what they’re relying on us for. You need to have a system in which you can make money via dialogue.
In some cases, you may have to educate them, and not just give them what they’re asking for, but understand what they need and to educate them in what they might need that’s a little different from what they first asked for. That’s a complicated thing, but it’s the value of a good service business. The other thing I want to touch on is what Adam mentioned about talking when he talked with the CEO of MakerBot. The CEO of MakerBot was saying, “Where I would go to learn about 3D printing is a community college.” He said she talked about how community colleges have a little more flexibility and are early adopters in the education world of 3D printing.
You’re also talking about a lot of these for-profit colleges, the ones that advertise all the time. The reason why is that they have to be retail consumer-friendly in a way. They have to appeal to get you in the door. They have to bring in these classes faster. They have to move faster to bring them in because they have to bring in a wider audience. That demand for students requires to be ahead of the curve there.
Community colleges are underrated as to the values that they provide in your local community to help educate people. They are needing to set themselves apart from the private colleges.
It’s very competitive.
That was a real first-class observation and point to share with our readers. I wanted to make sure we touched on that again.
3D print Tangible Solutions is a great idea in terms of creating a full-service bureau, you’ve got to do the full part. They’re a great model for that and their success in a short period of time is a testament to that.
They built a business from nothing and under a few years to something that is very significant and meaningful. Their name is ideal, Tangible Solutions. They’re helping make the imaginable tangible.
Making 3D printing tangible.
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