Printing a 3-D Prototype

A Note from the desk of Andrew Lane of Lane Consulting

With 3-D design software and declining prices for 3-D printers, smaller manufacturers are increasingly able to act bigger than they are. 

Some 3-D printers create prototypes of potential products to scale or full-size.  While larger companies have invested in this technology for over a decade, smaller companies continued to rely on carved or machined prototypes to respond to customer inquiries or pitch a new product.  The issue, a 3-D printer generates a prototype in hours or days versus weeks or months for for carving or machined prototypes; and at a much lower cost. 

Worse, some smaller manufacturers use up valuable manufacturing resources to create a product without evaluation as a prototype.  Failures result in costly re-tooling and dampen risk taking.  

Declining prices for 3-D printers are allowing smaller manufacturers to act 'bigger' in the market.  Requests for proposals and prototypes can be delivered in days; opening doors to new opportunities and expanding market potential.  Often, flexibility in management, operations and marketing can make a smaller manufacturer nimble enough to regularly win contracts against the big guys in their industry. 

From a marketing perspective, this is about:

  • Responding to customer needs and building relationships;
  • Growing your market; and
  • Improving new product development processes.

A recent article by the Globe and Mail's Grant Buckler provides more information on 3-D printers.  From a marketing perspective, a $20,000 investment in this technology might be critical to future growth and competing during a potential US slowdown.

Mr. Buckler's article may be linked to at:

With a strong Canadian dollar, this is an excellent time to invest in this technology. 

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