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  1. #1

    Starting a 3D printing company.

    Hello to everyone on the forum from the new member!

    I would like to start my own 3D printing company and get involved in the industry that I am very interested in and astonished by for a long time.

    I am from Southeast Europe and I am starting my company with a vision to set up a dedicated 3D printing service bureau for local and international customers. There is a huge demand for 3D printed goods right now, but there are not so many 3D printing services available like there are in the US. I think that this could be a very profitable
    business opportunity and I am very passionate about it.
    I have underlined vision because my company doesn't have to be a 3D printing services business at the start. 3D printing service is my long-term goal that involves having an ability to service a lot of different customers on an industrial scale.

    I have a few questions and all the information and help I can get from forum members will be very much appreciated!
    But before I ask questions, I will give some additional information:

    -My starting capital is 10.000$.
    -I do not have experience in 3D printing, but I do have a lot of business experience due to owning a retail toy-chain business for a long time.
    -I am not in toys manufacturing business, but I could sell 3D printed toys in my 7 stores and on my website.
    -I have great connections in selling any good consumer product that I could make from printing on the internet, due to having my toys on over 50 different selling websites in SE Europe.
    -I can take time off from my toys business and focus entirely on my 3D printing company.

    Questions:
    1. Should my company be from the start a 3D service business or I should make products that I can sell due to my business connections?
    2. If your answer is to make products, what products you would make?
    3. Would you buy one or more 3D printers for 10.000$?
    4. What is the 3D printer(s) you would recommend and what are the applications?

    Thank you in advance!

  2. #2
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
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    Jul 2014
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    how have you identified a demand for 3d printed products ?
    Just curious as I don't see any real demand in the uk.

    Most people simply do not know that 3d printing is an option, or what it can do.

    A service is a good idea. Gives a lot more scope and greater opportunity to find a niche product that actualy might make a profit.

    3d printed toys probably not such a good idea. The plastics and printing are generally not certified for public retail. Though I suppose that depends on which country you are in. If you are not subject to EU laws - then it's probably okay :-)

    As for printers, you need as many as you can get.
    Bear in mind that a printer can take a few hours to make even a relatively small item, on up to 10-12 hours for something medium sized, the more printers you have the better.

    What you need is a specialist Geek/Nerd/enthusiast who already knows about 3d printers.
    Reason being the best way to get a lot of good printers fairly cheaply is to buy kits and build them. For which I would recommend someone who had already built a printer from scratch.

    So what sort of toys were you thinking of ?

  3. #3
    Staff Engineer
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
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    Oakland, CA
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    Have you checked at 3DHubs.com for printing services in your country? My guess is that it's better served than you might think. Have you actually done any 3D printing yourself? The time and expense involved in operating and maintaining these machines shouldn't be underestimated. I'd suggest getting a small, cheap machine and experimenting with it, before plunging in with both feet. Your budget is enough to buy a few machines, but if it also has to support the business as it gets going, it's not a lot of capital to burn.

    As for your questions:

    1. Should my company be from the start a 3D service business or I should make products that I can sell due to my business connections?

    [If you think you can sell things you can design and print for a reasonable profit, then sure - go for it. That's likely to be more lucrative than printing things for other people, which is a low-margin business, considering that someone who wants to do that can easily buy a machine for themselves for a few hundred dollars, or whatever you use for money there.]

    2. If your answer is to make products, what products you would make?

    [Products that would sell for twice or more what it cost to make them, factoring in amortization of your machinery, overhead, maintenance, labor, and materials.]

    3. Would you buy one or more 3D printers for 10.000$?

    [That would depend on what I was trying to make. That's not enough money for a machine that prints directly in metal, but it might be enough for one that sinters plastic powder into parts that don't need supports. On the other hand, you could buy a flock of cheap machines, if they are good enough to produce the products you're selling.]

    4. What is the 3D printer(s) you would recommend and what are the applications?

    [See the answer to question #3.]

  4. #4
    Engineer ralphzoontjens's Avatar
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    Nov 2013
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    1. Should my company be from the start a 3D service business or I should make products that I can sell due to my business connections?

    If you go the en masse route, why not go for mass manufacturing.
    A 3D printed product will have to be especially exclusive and require exclusive retail channels to sell well. That is, unless the customer adds the value through customization. One example: I sell small sets of 3D printed party food picks at 20 euros per set, and that is about the minimal value I can sell it at to have some ROI - therefore, this only works if the products are unique and very customized.

    There is always a need for 3D printing services, especially for professionals. However we are picky and will often prefer an SLA model twice the cost over other models. $10k will not get you near a budget for this purpose though, what you could go for to start is buying a used Stratasys FDM machine and do ABS mechanical prototypes. Also look into the Ultimaker 2+/3 because it can work with CPE+ filament which is very strong and delivers stunning quality.

    2. If your answer is to make products, what products you would make?
    Customized items for very specific markets. Say, fashion accessories for HENRY millenials.

    3. Would you buy one or more 3D printers for 10.000$?
    For the above, a Wanhao i3 farm would not be a bad idea but also look into entry-level SLS machines because 1. these products will be much more desirable and 2. they are fast.

    4. What is the 3D printer(s) you would recommend and what are the applications?
    Lulzbot and Ultimaker are the best brands imo for the long term, but to start there are many other options.
    Lewihe and Witbox are especially good for flexible products such as shoes, but the Lulzbot TAZ 6 can handle that as well.
    For jewelry, plastics are just no good.

    Also check my blog:
    https://designsoulblog.wordpress.com


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