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5 things to know before starting a 3D printer start-up



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There is no denying the appeal of launching a start-up for the information age.

And equally there’s no doubt that a 3D printer start-up makes sense for the modern manufacturing age.

There are some key considerations when launching a 3D printing business
There are some key considerations when launching a 3D printing business

It’s easy to commence a 3D printer business, because of the demand for customisation in the world around us. And 3D printers and 3D printing technology certainly feeds that ongoing demand.

Among the gazillion benefits that 3D printers bring, a key one is ‘accessibility’.

3D printing technology differentiates itself from other manufacturing technologies by being open to anyone who desires to turn their ideas into parts, tools and works of art.

So if you too, like many others, are looking for a safer domain to kick-off your start-up, why not think of 3D printers?

We know exactly the questions that might be on your mind before beginning your own 3D printing company.

So, here are five things you need to know.

1 3D printing material

3D printer filament
3D printer filament

One of the most significant things you need to have on hand for starting to 3D print an object is a 3D printing material. It depends on the type of 3D printing technology employed by your 3D printer for manufacturing an object. If your printer is based on FDM 3D printing technology, the 3D printing material you’d require is a filament. Whereas if your 3D printer is based on SLA 3D printing technology, you’d need a resin.

So, according to the printer you are going to use in your start-up, you should have a list of 3D printing material providers. Many companies are into the business of providing 3D printing materials, online as well as offline. You’ll realize while searching that a lot of 3D printer manufacturers are also in this domain. Hence it is recommended that you buy from a company whose core is manufacturing 3D printing materials. Although the former doesn’t necessarily cost you more than the latter, it’s always advisable to compare the two.

2) A room or a warehouse

Have you got a suitable space for your 3D printing business?
Have you got a suitable space for your 3D printing business?

Arguably, you may not need a dedicate room or a warehouse because there are desktop 3D printers available in the market. But when trying to emerge as an entrepreneur, if you can manage a separate room or a warehouse, why not?

One little downside of dealing with 3D printing technology is the smell of burnt plastic material. So, if you can limit that smell to your room or a warehouse, people in your surroundings will not have to deal with it. Also, there are open-body 3D printers available in the market, so there is always a risk. Overall, if you can manage a discrete room for your 3D printers, great! If you cannot, it’d be a little chaotic, but you can manage.

3) Software

Find out what software you need for your 3D printer
Find out what software you need for your 3D printer

One of the things that differentiates 3D printing technology from other manufacturing technologies and lets you manufacture more precisely is the 3D design software. Your 3D printer learns what to print and what not to via the 3D design file that is fed into it.

The importance of software is as equal to or even greater than the 3D printing material.

Before knowing details about the software, you need to know two aspects concerning your 3D printer:

a) With which software is your 3D printer compatible?

b) Can your printer work with open-sourced software?

If the answer to question b) is yes, you can turn to software such as Cura, Simplify etc. If not, you will have to go with the software that the printer manufacturer recommends.

4) Replacement of parts for your 3D printer

Keep key replacement parts in stock
Keep key replacement parts in stock

Parts such as the print bed, the print head and belts are something that you are advised to keep on hand. They are the parts that will be in your 3D printer no matter which type of you plan to start your company with. Also, if it’s an FDM 3D printer, you should have basic knowledge about the extruder and the nozzle system. And the knowledge you need depends on the type of 3D printing technology your printer is based on.

Having a replacement of at least the main parts is recommended so that if at any time during the 3D printing process those parts are damaged, the process does not suffer.

5) List of 3D printing service providers to which you can outsource

You can outsource jobs when your workload is busy
You can outsource jobs when your workload is busy

Preparing this list would be helpful when the workload is high.

As mentioned in the introduction of this article, 3D printing technology is preferred because of its accessibility. So, it’s important to understand how exactly accessible 3D printing technology is.

There are online 3D printing service providers in the market that delivers a 3D printed part at your doorstep. All you have to provide them with is a 3D design file of the object you wish to print.

Not only should you keep a list of 3D printing service providers, but also associate with them regularly. By doing so, you can always outsource when the workload at your end is high.

Conclusion

Those are the key things you need to know for developing your 3D printer start-up. The minimum budget that you need for buying a 3D printer is around $200. And all the other information is available online, for free.

Remember, the most important benefit of 3D printing technology is its ability to customise.

Unlike traditional manufacturing methods, you can easily customise parts and functional prototypes using 3D printers for people and for different occasions.

Additionally, 3D printing as an additive manufacturing technology is still in its nascent stage - and there is huge scope as new innovations are happening all the time.

Associating with such a mobile, ever-evolving technology as a business is easy as well as beneficial. So, what are you waiting for?



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