Small Batch Manufacturing
Guest Post by Madeline Dudziak
Also a huge fan of reading – perhaps a natural result of being named after the famous children’s book – Madeline’s Kindle is always crammed with more books than leisure time allows. Among other ways, she spends her free time are fun activities with her husband and young children, volunteering, and participating in two book clubs.
5 Ways You Can Use 3D Printing Technology For Your Small Business
At one point in time, a 3D printer was something only large scale manufacturing businesses really benefitted from. 3D printers were bulky, and just not easily accessible for someone not in a large factory-type setting. It was helpful in those environments but there didn’t seem to be a clear path to getting 3D printing technology into smaller settings.
3D printers being for large businesses is no longer the reality, however. Many small businesses have been able to start using 3D printers for their benefit. There are a lot of ways you can use a 3D printer that you may not have considered yet. 3D printing technology is everywhere now. Printers are smaller, more affordable, and easier than ever to use.
If you’ve been thinking about buying a 3D printer for your small business but you haven’t made the leap yet, it’s time to start considering what a 3D printer can really do for you. 3D printing technology could change how you’re doing things now in a big way. If you’re still not convinced, here are five ways you can use 3D printing technology for your small business.
1. Easy, Quick Prototypes
When you’re developing a new product for your business, getting a prototype in your hands can be a bit of a hassle. If you don’t have an in-house production team (and most small businesses don’t) then you’ll likely have to place an order with a large production company. Depending on where the company is located costs and production time can be huge obstacles.
As you’re creating your new product you may hold off on ordering extra prototypes for every small change due to the aforementioned costs. This can result in you not being able to see and hold every design iteration. It can leave you wondering what a small change will do to the look and functionality of your product because you don’t have a concrete example to look at.
With 3D printing, you’ll have the chance to print out your own prototype. Adjusting a small part (or even a large part) of your product’s design to fix a flaw just means you have to print a new prototype. It’s easy to do and design changes are as easy as adjusting the printer plans you’ve already created.
Being able to print your own prototypes gives you a whole host of new possibilities. In addition to being able to see each design iteration, you’ll also be able to print prototypes for customers or investors to look at or take with them. You’re the one in control of the prototyping process when you use a 3D printer because you have the power to create whatever you need. That’s a big deal.
2. Use Your Printer To Drum Up Interest
Customers love freebies, it’s a fact. Whether it’s a free gift with purchase or a token of appreciation when you give your customers something their loyalty for your business will increase. So offer them something they actually can’t get somewhere else and 3D print your logo onto something.
When you can offer a unique freebie, even something fairly minor like a coaster or business card that you have 3D printed in-house you will not only save money on incidental free gifts but you will have created something buzzworthy. When the word gets out that you’re offering something no one else can people are going to want to hop on that bandwagon!
If you create demand for your freebie, you can create demand for your business. Consider printing your token in multiple colors. That way your regular customers can collect them. (Perhaps when they have a full set they could earn a special discount?)
By rewarding loyal customers giving them something you have 3D printed yourself, you could see a big boost in your business. Show your customers a little appreciation in the form of a freebie and it’s a safe bet they will appreciate you right back.
3. Offer Up Your Printer
It may seem strange to think about purchasing a 3D printer for your business especially if 3D printing doesn’t make much sense with your mission. But while 3D printing has a serious fan base in the general public a majority of people have never 3D printed before.
Therefore it could be fun to offer your customers a chance to print something of their own with purchase. Let’s say you’re in the food or hospitality industry, you could have a promotion where if someone buys lunch they can also print something in 3D.
There are many things you can 3D print in as little as 10 minutes which really isn’t that much time if you’re sitting down for a cup of coffee in a cafe. While this might seem a little gimmicky at first that 3D printer investment could pay off in a big way in drumming up customers and building interest in your business.
4. Small Batch Manufacturing
Even if you aren’t a manufacturing company, a 3D printer can be helpful to print a small inventory of what is needed. While of course there are large companies you can order pieces from it could be incredibly handy for your business to be able to print things you need on your own printer.
Why would you keep paying for someone else to 3D print your stuff for you when you can do it yourself and save money? Think about whether having a printer can benefit your bottom line and save you time running around looking for things you can quickly print on your own.
Especially if you find yourself in need of replacement parts frequently, you stand to benefit from printing your own. When you control the quality of the parts you need you can quickly get back to work instead of waiting for a replacement to arrive.
5. Build A Little Farm
Slowly we are going to start seeing 3D printing farms popping up the way of old school copy centers. As consumers start to see the benefits of 3D printing they are going to want in on the fun and see the technology for themselves. So it isn’t so far fetched to think you may want to offer customer’s the chance to print as needed by the public.
It would be an easy addition to many small businesses. Obviously, you can use the printers when needed as well, but when they aren’t in use for your prototypes you can set a pricing scale for those who would like to print. It’s a good way to earn some extra income and spread the love of 3D printing around.
Having a 3D printer for your business can be incredibly beneficial for both your own bottom line and your relationship with customers. No longer are 3D printers only for big businesses and factories. Make sure your small business doesn’t fall behind, consider how much 3D printing technology can help you succeed.
Madeline Dudziak’s Bio:
Madeline Dudziak loves words. As a web content creator, she crafts messages that help clients inform, educate, persuade, or connect. Madeline’s also a freelance theater reviewer for the River Cities’ Reader, which combines her passion for writing with her passion for theatre.
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