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So You Want to Get Into 3D Printing?

22 Oct, 2014

Julie Reece of Mcor Technology, shares her insight on the hot topic of 3D printing. Learn about this advancing technology and how you can profit from it.  Julie has this to say:

You don’t know much about it, but you know it’s the hottest technology around. You’ve seen simply amazing things that 3D printers can produce and the entrepreneurial voice in your head is saying, “I want a piece of that pie!”

But, oh so many questions! How do you get into 3D printing as a business? What can you do with it to make a profit? Which 3D printing technology should you use? And that’s just the beginning.

I’ve spoken with so many people at trade shows who are just utterly astounded by the technology, and you can literally see their intellectual wheels turning, “This is incredible; how can I use this to make money?”

Let’s take each question, one at a time.

How do you get into 3D printing?

Getting into 3D printing is relatively easy and there are a variety of ways you can do so. For example, you can go to work for one of the many 3D printing companies in nearly any capacity, from sales and marketing to finance and R&D. You can become a reseller of 3D printers or become a 3D printing service provider, or both. Or, likely what you have in mind, you can develop a specific product or service offering – a killer application – centered around 3D printing. This brings us to the next question…

What can you do with 3D printing to make a profit?

Certainly selling 3D printers can be a great business, but it’s vital to know what you’re getting into when you sign on to be a reseller of any 3D printing technology. There’s a lot involved and, as in any business, you will need to understand the terms and conditions of your contract with the 3D printer manufacturer, as well as become savvy at skills like sales, marketing and customer support, not to mention, 3D printing in every aspect of the technology you have selected. If you’ve done all of that, it can be an incredibly profitable, rewarding, endeavor.

If you are more interested in running a 3D printing service bureau, you can specialize in one area, such as consumer products or architectural models, for example, or cover a broad range of 3D model types that prospective customers might ask you to print. In this case, in addition to possessing all of the skills needed to run a successful business, it’s essential that you become highly knowledgeable about, and skilled at, using CAD (computer aided design) software and many other forms of input necessary for 3D printers. This is because often files that you receive from your customers might not be 3D printable and will require some file fixing. In addition, 3D data is available from a wide range of sources in a wide range of formats. You’ll need to know what those are in order to input those files, work with them and successfully print them.

If you prefer to produce and sell a specific 3D printed product, you might go with bespoke products and keepsakes such as wedding cake toppers, 3D photos, figurines, maps of special places, props for realtors, or any number of other items. I like to tell people that anything having to do with weddings, babies, pets and vacations always sells! But it’ll be up to you to conduct proper market and competitive research to determine the viability of your business plan. Here too, it’s imperative that you do your homework and ultimately fully understand the 3D printing process, the capabilities of the technology, the software and sources of input before you dive in headlong, and that you become highly skilled at it if you do.

Which technology should I use?

Why, Mcor’s True Colour SDL paper-based 3D printing technology, of course!

OK, the truth is that your business and application needs will dictate the technology. However, if you are set on a specific technology, that technology might limit you to specific applications and business requirements. You’ll really need to assess this from all angles. Do your homework by seeing each possible 3D printing process in person, discussing your application with knowledgeable representatives of each company and requesting a sample file printed that represents your application needs.

Any consumer product will require full, realistic colour. That requirement alone narrows you to two technologies. Given that consumers won’t pay high prices for items and those items must be durable and safe, that further narrows you to the Mcor IRIS as your 3D printer.

If you plan to run a 3D print service bureau, you might need to purchase a range of different, yet complementary, technologies over time to suit the widely varying needs of your customer base – and you’ll need to become an expert in all of them.

If you plan to become a 3D printer reseller, partner with the manufacturer who is great to work with in all regards and offers you and your customers breakthrough technology that they can best use for their applications. Ensure the manufacturer has grown steadily and has enormous growth potential. Make sure the technology is truly unique and that the manufacturer doesn’t have numerous other resellers in the same territory as you, to ensure limited competition.

I realize this is all very high level. I could go into a dissertation on each of these, and other, questions. The most important point to take away from this is for you to do your due diligence and fully understand every aspect of the technology, process and business before you dive in. Then, select your business, your application and your technology and joyfully enter the industry that is enjoying 30% year-on-year growth.

For company information and more blogs from Julie, visit  http://mcortechnologies.com/

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