Speed to Market – Transformational Technology

After about 3 weeks with my printer, I’ve decided to take the leap and offer 3D printed objects for sale.  To be sure, it’s a bit of a leap of faith – I’ve gone from “hobby & home use” to taking orders in that period of time, with no previous 3D printing experience.

One of the interesting aspects of this is demonstrating how this technology can truly revolutionize ‘speed to market’.  When I got the printer, I had a couple of ideas for products that would serve a niche market… In the week between ordering the printer and receiving it, I quickly evaluated and then learned (just the basics) of a CAD program.  I spent several days of that first week designing several of my ideas, turning them from thoughts to bits.  Then, over the next 19 days (which included a 4 day business trip), I was able to learn the basics of printing, iterate through several design changes on each of the items I’d drawn, send them for testing and offer them for sale. In less than 3 weeks.  That’s transformational technology! In that same time period, I’ve come to know (virtually) a couple of people – Lon in particular – who have provided timely advice that’s minimized my learning curve and kept things that could have derailed on track.  That highlights another key aspect of the technology curve – how the internet is central to enabling this journey.  I’m pointing out the obvious now, but with a reason – I remember a few short years ago when this would have been impossible. Even IF I had a 3D printer then, my ‘market’ would have been folks I could reach through classified ads in specialty magazines delivered by the postman.

WIll it be successful?  Can the printer (and can I) deliver on the expectations I’ve set?  Time will tell.  To be sure, there are some risks.  But, I’m also taking a measured approach – this isn’t an endeavor where I’ve taken out ad space on a major site and shouted from the mountaintops…  I’ve identified a narrowly focused niche market (that I’m part of) and provided small solutions to every day problems.

There are a couple points of potential failure that need to be considered.  Will the (relatively) unproven printer be up to the task?  What if demand exceeds my capacity?  Will I ever sleep?We’ll know soon. I’m writing this in the hours before openly announcing product availability on a forum. I’ve hinted at offering them for sale – and my latest post on one forum generated significant interest… and there is a line forming.  Wow.

So, here we go!  With the encouragement and support of several key people, I’m off!


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