We all know why designers are so excited about 3D printing, but what about the rest of the world? Should they be excited? In this WTFFF Ask Us Anything segment, Tom and Tracy Hazzard go beyond the design world and discuss why every business should be considering the benefits of 3D printing.
Listen to the podcast here:
Why Everyone Should Be Considering 3D Printing
This is the Ask Us Anything segment.
This is Entrepreneurship Week, but we’ve been talking to a lot of entrepreneurs and it occurred to me that many of them are not considering 3D printing. It’s a mistake. If you want to pose it a question, why should my business consider 3D printing? My answer is every business should be considering 3D printing. I’m saying considering, not doing because there may be a reason for it. A lot of businesses are following the lean business model or the lean startup model. It’s arguably lean. A 3D printed product, you don’t have to pay for tooling. That’s the easiest way to say why you should consider doing that. It’s not about making a prototype. You might want to use it to make the prototypes. You might want to use it to make your first run, to make test runs and to make a beta test run. You might want to do it because you don’t want to spend the tooling until you’ve had a chance to flexibly test it.
Maybe there’s a portion of the product that can be told and is ready, but other portions you’re not sure of. Maybe you have an issue of adapting to different kinds of products and you want to leave that flexibility there.
There are two more ideas about how to use it in a business that has come up from our conversations with various entrepreneurs. One of them is how 3D printing might be a great way to set yourself apart from a differentiation standpoint from all the other guys out there. When you’re trying to generate organic traffic on Amazon or some marketplace that you’re selling with, how do you get somebody to want to buy yours when there are ten of something being sold out there and they already have a lot of value to them? How do you demonstrate value to that? Can you make it in more colors? Can you make it more fun? Can you have something that doesn’t have to be tooled that’s not a core part of the product, but gets attention for your product? You can use it as a marketing piece.
I bet a lot of companies or entrepreneurs aren’t even thinking about this because they think, “I don’t have the money to make and develop my own product. I’m buying somebody else’s line on the open market and reselling it. I’m buying this thing off Alibaba and reselling it.” Those are the people that should be considering it the most.
It doesn’t work like this. That’s why I’m using this product, for example. Imagine you were reselling an iPhone. There are many iPhones out there. Everybody is carrying one. You’re just a reseller of iPhone. What if you resold your iPhone with specialty cases already embedded with it? Somebody’s buying the whole thing together. It could be a product like that. You’re bundling something fun with something that everybody has and it’s common. You think about those kinds of things and how can I do that with 3D printing? Another thought that I’ve had was this conversation I had with this woman at an event. She makes perfume. It’s a custom formulated perfume. I said, “I’d always been fascinated by the design of bottles.” She quickly dismissed me and said, “You don’t get to do that in my business unless you make hundreds of thousands of bottles.”
They can’t design their own bottle.
They buy from various Italian glass resources these bottles or wherever they’re getting from their standard shape. They’re off the shelf and that’s all they get. The perfume that you put in it is what’s special about it. I thought, “What a miss.” I said to her, “Have you considered 3D printing?” She looked at me like, “I don’t even know what that is and I could care less. It doesn’t sound important to me.” It is and think about it this way, if your product is a standard bottle, could you create a covering around that bottle that’s beautiful, branded, colored, that stands out in the mix? It’s not just making a beautiful box, it’s making the product. Could you create a beautiful custom topper? You are not only making beautiful perfumes in a small batch run.
You could make the actual packaging unique too.
You can make it in order. If someone buys a bottle from you on Etsy, you can put your wife’s name into the top of that bottle or into the outside case of that bottle. You can put happy anniversary and the number of the anniversary. You have some great opportunities. These are the things where you need to look at a way to create something even more special about your business to do things. When there’s a problem like I have to buy 10,000 of something to make it custom, 3D print might be your solution.
I’m surprised that she was quickly dismissive of that.
I was too. I thought, “This is a great opportunity for somebody.” If there are a bunch of perfumers out there and you want to call us, I’m willing to talk to you about the idea and give this one to you. I think that there’s something there that could be amazing. It’s such a classic example of what a lot of Etsy artists are doing. They’re taking common materials that you buy at many craft stores online or all over the place and they’re transforming them. 3D printing could be a part of that transformation for you.
Something like perfume, it’s a unique scent and I’m sure they’re doing wonderful unique things there. Putting it in a common bottle, you’d think would defeat the purpose and here’s an opportunity. Somebody’s going to do it eventually. I’m convinced.
This is why every business should be considering 3D printing in some way, shape or form and looking at it. Whether it’s from prototyping, lean manufacturing, flexible business focusing the product features, you talk about making a minimum viable product and then starting to test out your customized features. This is a great way to do it, whether it’s product differentiation.
It is market differentiation. What everybody needs to be doing is trying to separate themselves from the competition. Why should you buy me and not them?
I hesitate to mention this one because someone will take off with it and do it in a disingenuous way. Keep in mind that people are writing about 3D printing all the time. If you’re in a stale, boring market like trophies or perfume where it’s hard to get publications and media attention in your industry, adding that 3D print component might be the thing that gets you the press release. Don’t do it for just that reason. Make sure it’s an important part of them.
There should be some integrity behind what you’re doing. You’re right, 3D print media gets picked up quickly.
I hope that helps and we’re going to keep going. We are at CEO Space. If you are tweeting us and doing stuff, we might not get back to you, but we will. We always get back to you.
We will get back to you. Our response time may not be quite what it normally is, but we won’t forget about you.
Thanks for reading, everyone.