Many managed IT service providers are finding it necessary to start offering 3D printing solutions. Though the technology isn’t brand new anymore, many businesses have yet to embrace this technology and without knowing are losing their competitive edge. It’s high past time to update your business technology! According to statistics, 71.1% of manufacturers have embraced 3D printing and 52% of manufacturers foresee the technology growing tremendously over the next 3 to 5 years. These statistics should have any company that has yet to invest in 3D printing worried. The following are some ways 3D printing will give you a competitive edge against your business rivals:
1. Timely Development of Prototypes
Developing prototypes and blue-chips is a vital aspect of any manufacturing process. However, this step is known to take lots of time, effort, and resources as everything must be perfect. To achieve this, the piece(s) will undergo many modifications and alterations before it is finally accepted. Not only does this take time, but it also incurs high costs. Due to being computer-controlled and the fact that it gives you a preview of the final product before processing, 3D printing allow you to produce prototypes in a much shorter time frame while saving you money.
2. High Quality Products
The modern customer is all about quality. He or she would rather pay more for a top-notch product than pay less for a substandard product. 3D printing solutions help you offer your market high quality products at a lower cost. The computer-controlled 3D printer provides an exact replica of the original product or prototype ensuring the quality is second-to-none. This explains why important products such as dental braces, jet engine fuel nozzles, and aircraft and satellite parts are being produced using 3D printers.
3. Less Equipment
In comparison to a manufacturing plant, 3D printers occupy a smaller space and yet produce similar (if not better!) products. The equipment can easily be adjusted to produce different parts unlike the traditional plant operation that produces a specific piece. Less equipment means you save on space, lower the cost of operation and maintenance, and also speed up the manufacturing process. There is also less concern over an interruption that could halt the operation as 3D printers are more versatile.
4. Reduces Overhead Costs
One of the biggest concerns a company has is overhead costs which include rent, administrative costs, power, and much more. A large plant will occupy a larger space (higher rent), will require more operators (higher cost of labor), and will incur more cost in terms of maintenance and service. The costs associated with 3D printing are much lower because the printer occupies lesser space, requires minimal human intervention, and is cheaper to maintain and service due to fewer moving parts. As a company you will be better positioned to offer lower prices to your customer due to lower overhead costs when using 3D printing.
5. Minimal Manpower
Operating 3D printing equipment isn’t as labor intensive as the traditional manufacturing plant. In fact, most advanced 3D solutions are 100% computer-controlled and come with Smart technology. Considering that it is much smaller than the usual processing plant, the number of people required to maintain or service a 3D printer is also fewer. Today’s printers use a range of raw materials, can be integrated with different software, and can even operate remotely.
6. Boost Efficiency
Unless your systems are efficient and reliable, you will spend lots of time, effort and money correcting errors. For instance, a faulty production line may cease production causing delays (and, of course, angry customers). Getting a replacement part may take days, if not weeks. As the price of printers drops and technology continues to improve, 3D printing is becoming more efficient and reliable. Not only is the printer less likely to break down, it is also easy to replace a faulty component. This allows you to focus on other important areas of the company.
There you have it—six ways 3D printing offers your company a much-needed competitive advantage. It allows you to produce prototypes faster, reduces the cost of production, requires less input (human resources and equipment), and reduces overhead. Additionally, efficiency and productivity is vastly improved. To enjoy high-quality and reliable 3D solutions, it pays to engage with a reputable and experienced managed IT services provider. Not only will the firm offer the latest and best solutions, but also they will be available to provide technical support.
How To Start The Business
You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your 3D Printing Design Business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
1: Plan your Business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How long it will take you to break even?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening a 3D Printing Design Business?
The costs involved in opening such a business are minimal. Most shops start out of someone’s home, so there is no expensive lease or utilities to pay every month, nor any staff salaries to pay. If you will be working with Shapeways, you do not have to have a 3D printer: you simply upload designs to them, sell the products through your own website, and split profits with Shapeways. If you are buying your own 3D printer, you can typically find a commercial model you need for $6,000 or less, though there are models available in a variety of price points. Otherwise, your primary cost will be creating a professional website (typically about $500) and advertising your services (most advertising will be done online, so your starting advertising budget may be $2,000 or less).
What are the ongoing expenses for a 3D Printing Design Business?
Part of the beauty of this job is that there are very few ongoing expenses. As a home-based job, your only guaranteed costs will be to pay to host your professional website (typically less than one hundred dollars a year); you may opt to continue paying for advertising, which will typically be five hundred dollars or less per month. Other than that, though, you only need to re-stock materials (assuming you are printing the items yourself) when you get orders, and you will price items to take materials into account. If you are printing through Shapeways, then you will price items to compensate for the fee that they will take (you set a markup for each item sold, and this is the money you make, minus a 3.5% transaction fee).
Who is the target market?
This is one business where your preferred clients may vary greatly depending on your area and if you choose to specialize in printing certain things. One group that may become your favorite is hobbyists. From collectors wanting to replace parts for their model trains to gamers wanting you to print objects for their roleplaying campaign, hobbyists are that rare group that has very niche interests and the disposable income to accommodate those interests.
How does a 3D Printing Design Business make money?
A 3D printing business makes money by printing and delivering 3D versions of shapes and objects to customers. You may also make money by taking design requests from customers who cannot find the shapes they want printed anywhere else.
How much can you charge customers?
The price for your items will vary greatly according to their size, complexity, and the materials used. For instance, in the tabletop gaming niche, you might charge four dollars for a small item like a miniature shopping cart. Conversely, you might charge upwards of two hundred dollars for large, complex terrain to be used in a tabletop war game. If you are printing through Shapeways, then they will help determine the price of the item using those same factors. The more niche your item, the more you can effectively charge, as customers have nowhere else to obtain that item.
How much profit can a 3D Printing Design Business make?
The exact amount of profit you can make is difficult to determine. One research company estimates that 3D artists make an average of $53,000 a year, but that is counting those who do such work for corporations rather than themselves. Regardless, your actual profit is like that of any other specialty shop: if you find the right combination of diverse products, niche markets, and relevant advertising, and the sky is the limit on your profit.
How can you make your business more profitable?
All of the ways to make your business more profitable come down to making your business more visible. Try writing guest blogs for websites that your audience reads in order to get noticed. Offer to print things your community may need (such as prosthetics) in order to build good relationships and gain publicity. Finally, give 3D printed gifts to family and friends. This is a great way to generate good buzz and solid word of mouth.
2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC prevents you from being personally liable if your 3D Printing Design Business is sued. There are many business structures to choose out there.
3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an TIN. It’s really easy and free!
4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company’s assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business’ expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company’s credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a 3D printing design business.
7: Get Business Insurance
Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.
8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.