Over the course of the last few years, 3D printing has come to represent a whole new avenue for entrepreneurs. From aspiring fashion designers, to game makers, to people with ideas for entirely new products, the technology can offer an efficient and relatively affordable means of producing inventory and getting a business off the ground.
If this is something you’ve thought about, or you’re simply interested in the idea, read on for some of our tips for how to start a business in this emerging category.
Learn About The Technology
First and foremost, you should learn all you can about the technology. Even if you aren’t going to be interacting with a 3D printer directly, you’ll be best able to gauge what one can do for your business if you have a more thorough grasp of the technology’s capabilities.
A previous list here of some of the things that are important to know about 3D printers is a good place to start, in that it covers much of the wide spectrum of types of products that can be made (from personal accessories to vehicle parts).
However, beyond applications and possibilities, you’ll also want to research the actual mechanisms of a 3D printer. As any successful business owner will likely agree, knowing every aspect of your business inside and out can only help.
Organize Outside Production
If you really gain a good grasp on the technology, and you can afford the type of printer needed to manufacture your product (as well as the continual cost of material), you may be able to launch your business simply by printing inventory in house. It’s likely going to be more sustainable and scalable, however, to organize outside production.
As Fictiv puts it in an overview of the 3D printing services one can take advantage of these days, high-resolution functional prototypes can be created within a single day, and larger orders can be processed almost as quickly. This means that through an outside printing service, you can test out your own prototypes, having them manufactured quickly so that you can make adjustments until you perfect your product.
Then, you can get that product to market by putting in a larger order and having as much as you like printed out in short time. This takes the direct responsibility of printing out of your hands, and may save you money on bulk orders. It also makes it easier to order more inventory exactly when you need it.
Make 3D Printing Part Of Your Pitch
Any modern startup can benefit from a transparent and informative outreach campaign, both online and through social media. And part of that campaign, if you’re organizing a business around 3D-printed products, ought to include notifying potential customers of your methods.
In a very handy piece on how small businesses can boost their brands through video, Vidyard suggests that business owners should introduce themselves and explain what they do. Delivering that kind of pitch with a focus on how 3D printing serves as a foundation for your business makes you instantly new and interesting, and may just make potential customers more likely to want to engage.
Celebrate Other 3D Printing Startups
Celebrating other 3D printing startups may sound counterintuitive at first. After all, the last thing any business owner wants to do is provide free advertisement for competitors. However, we’re not referring to direct competitors here, so much as just other companies that are making use of 3D printing in interesting ways.
Look through a list of 10 fascinating companies in this space highlighted at Business News Daily, and you’ll begin to get an idea of how this could work without boosting your competition. For instance, imagine you have a boutique fashion startup with 3D-printed garments and accessories, and you maintain a blog on your company website.
Now, imagine on that blog you write a piece about Natural Machines Foodini (which strives to make real food via 3D printing) simply as a point of interest about the technology. Not only does this further your company’s association with fun technology in the eyes of site visitors, but it also provides incentive for Natural Machines Foodini, or simply those with an interest in 3D-printed food, to link to your platform.
Many other factors will come into play as you look to start your business, just as they would for any other business. You’ll need a detailed business plan, startup funding, attractive site design and effective early marketing, and so on. The suggestions above, however, will help you to build specifically on the 3D printing aspect of your budding company.