3D printing is one of the most talked about new technologies. Experts have promised that advanced 3D printers will be able to create everything from human organs to car bodies and rocket engines. But what about the benefits of 3D printing for ordinary small businesses?
It turns out that there are plenty of ways that small firms will be able to take advantage if they keep their ears to the rails and act decisively.
Show Customers A Prototype To Keep Them Keen
Many firms have to discuss their plans and products with customers before they have even started to build or manufacture them. For example, architects have to sell their ability to deliver the structures that clients want, to exacting specifications, within a strict timescale.
If your firm works in a design field, 3D printing provides an incredibly effective way to create prototypes. This could be anything from works of art to boutique clothing, furniture, landscape gardens or homes. Small businesses can give themselves an instant advantage if they have the ability to lead clients through the process of creation, showing every step of the way. With a precise 3D model of your products, customers will find it hard to resist making a purchase.
Manufacture Unique Products With 3D Printers
Many experts expect 3D printing to become a mainstream way to manufacture products within a few years. Instead of the traditional production line, they envision specialist 3D printers working on individual products to exact customer specifications.
For small businesses, this world is already within reach. With off the shelf printers, you can create items that customers will desire – from children’s puzzles, to executive toys and household decorations. In the next couple of years, 3D printers will be available that can print steel or ceramics, allowing small firms to create entire portfolios of kitchen goods, furnishings or sports equipment. When that happens, early adopters will be in the front row.
Respond Rapidly To Customer Desires
Successful firms will be ones that cater for the needs of customers. This has always been important, but 3D printing allows firms to work to the precise specifications of every single customer.
Imagine the potential. Consumers will be able to log onto websites and custom design their own sunglasses. They will be able to use smartphone apps to design their own sneakers, phone covers, laptop cases and clothing. The rise of 3D printing will be a golden age for companies that allow customers to explore their own personal desires, instead of offering a limited range of products.
Pioneer Smart Shipping Techniques
In the future, when you ship goods, it will be in specially designed 3D printed packages. It will be a simple matter to print off containers for every individual item, helping to keep them safe during transit. Firms will also be able to brand their packaging in new ways, promoting their company image and making a favorable impression on customers.
If your firm deals in fragile items or irregularly shaped goods, 3D printing will provide a completely new way to improve your shipping practices. Instead of paying shippers to do the job for you, in-house teams will be able to create the right containers in a fraction of the time.
Occupy A Specialist Scientific Niche
Some of the most exciting 3D printing start-ups have been in what might seem like high-tech fields. Medical companies have started to supply 3D printed molds for specialist helmets, medical tools and prosthetic limbs. This has helped to drive down the cost of many operations, while making millions for firms that saw the opportunities available.
Small businesses can do the same. If you have a specialist background – whether in medicine, electronics or even cookery, sports or gardening – think about how 3D printing can meet the needs of the customers you serve. It could be knee pads for gardeners to use when they are removing weeds, or it could be shin-guards for football players. If you can imagine it, it will happen. The challenge is turning your imagination into reality.
3D Printing: An Idea Whose Time Has Come
The potential of small-scale personalized manufacturing is vast. Imagine guitar players being able to design their own axe. Imagine golfers having the chance to personalize their club head covers (or even their putter heads). Catering firms could create cups, plates and food containers to match their brand identity. Parents could have baby toys and clothes that exactly meet their child’s changing needs.
With the price of 3D printers plummeting, now is the time to explore how your small business can benefit. Profits and growth are there, if firms are willing to make the changes required. Customers are hungry for personalized products, and successful small firms will be ones that feed that desire.
Image courtesy of (3dprintingankara.com)