As some may know I have spent 15+ years in the printing and imaging marketplace working with businesses on managing their print spend and understanding how printed information flows through their business. So naturally as 3D printing has become more available it really perked my interest.
Like most I think 3D printing is really interesting and love the concept but I have always had difficulty understanding the practicality of it. I’m sure as the technology evolves more and more applications will become available.
We all know that printers are very commoditized and it’s a race to the bottom. Printers and MFPs have become so inexpensive that there really is no standout anymore; they are boxes that put ink on paper. What matters is who your partner is for these devices and who will take care of you.
At CES I was very excited to see all the latest 3D technologies but the race to the bottom has already started. You can get 3D pens (reminds me of the old wood burning kit we all had) that sell for $99.00 USD and printers that are under $1000.00. This market is far from mature and it’s already commoditized.
Now these devices I mention above are typically using single color ABS plastic to create their objects and there are 3D printers that can print using all sorts of materials, which naturally go up in price.
Once you see past the novelty printers that you would give to your kids for Christmas there are many exciting applications for 3D printing, with the right device. Some amazing innovations have been made in healthcare, modeling for engineering and architects, programs developed for education, and many manufacturing applications. At CES there was even 3D printed clothing.
I see this technology as one that will cause lots of disruption in the future. Even in it’s current state many of our customers would be able to save countless amounts of money by being able to create their own models, service parts, and other commonly used items they purchase on a regular basis. Having a conversation and thinking outside the box could help you change the way your business runs today and in the future. To start out this conversation; here is a list of 3d printers we viewed that we believe can assist your business now and not just in the future.
A local Vancouver Company, they have a focus on the education side of 3d Printing. They have a website dedicated to education and it is their ‘university’ of 3d printing. Tinkerine University gives projects, lesson plans, and tutorials.
With a focus on education one of the core functions of the printer is ease of use and the need for a quiet environment. Tinkerine has taken a minimalistic approach with their design; getting rid of some of the most un-used features in 3d Printing it has made the interface much easier. Their 3d Printer is also exceedingly quiet compared to their competitors, which allows you to work in peace.
3d printers in schools is going to be an eventual reality, they will have hundreds of applications. Imagine creating a visual representation of a heart in biology, spare parts for cars in auto workshop, props for acting classes, and models in architecture class…the applications are limitless.
2.) 3d Systems
Essentially the founders of the 3d printing revolution, 3d Systems has quite a selection of printers. From home desktops to full production printers, there focus is most certainly on the professional and production side of things.
With DMP or Direct Metal Printing you can create parts, jewelry and prototype pieces to speed up production. One of the futures for 3d Printing is to look at how it can effect and improve the manufacturing process and how it will effect the service industry. With the DMP you can already create spare parts of older models that can no longer be serviced and even allow your service department to simply create parts instead of ordering.
Service parts are only just the beginning, companies will want to look at full production lines with 3d Printing, but the question is how long until than?
3.) Mcor Technologies
Mcor was quite interesting to me. I had the opportunity to preview this printer at CES 2016 and I was quite impressed by the technology.
Full color printing! The world’s first full color 3d Printer (desktop) can have quite a few applications in the education and architectural industry. Now you can create your 3d housing models all in house and in color!
In order to create full color these 3d printer utilize paper. The paper is laid out, it dyes each piece of paper and it is glued to the next. The printer cuts away at the paper to form your “product” and all the excess is recyclable.
Current 3d Applications for businesses
One of the major current applications we at Silicon Cowboys see will be the elimination of ordering spare parts and instead companies will have 3d models that they can send you to print on your printer.
The prototype process has greatly increased in speed thanks to 3d Printing and now the entire world can begin to design and manufacture product prototypes. Now everyone can develop new technologies and actually test out there designs for as little as a couple grand to buy a desktop 3d printer.
We would love to start the conversation with you today to see how 3d Printing can affect your future!