4 Ways to Boost Your Business with 3D Printers
by Allan Hoffman, Staples® Contributing Writer
Why print the specs for your small businesss new product when you can print out a prototype? New 3D printers can produce genuine, hold-in-your-hand objects. While there will always be a need for your traditional inkjet or laser printer, you can use 3D printing to boost your small business or even to start a new company around these capabilities.
What Are 3D Printers?
A 3D printer can be used to manufacture objects yes, ones existing in three dimensions (a keychain, say, or a smartphone case). Of course, its not quite so simple as hitting the print button from a PDF file. These printers require you to create a computer model using special software or to download a model thats already been created; then the printer works off that model to print the object. And, in the case of 3D printers, printing means adding layer upon layer of material based on the instructions in the computer model.
Just dont expect a 3D printer to look like the inkjet on your desk. The Cube® 3D printer, for instance, comes in five colors, including blue, green and magenta, and it prints that is, it creates objects from your design on a slick platform built into the device. The Cube lets you print objects up to 5.5" x 5.5" x 5.5" in any of 16 colors. You can see it in action in this video.
3D Printing & Your Small Business
These 3D printers may one day occupy a place in your office as essential as the inkjet printer. According to a recent Forbes article, With the power of manufacturing transferring from the factories to anyone with a laptop, theres no telling how dramatically 3D printing could change the world economy, but one thing is for sure: small businesses and entrepreneurs will be at the helm of the transformation.
Think of it this way. The desktop publishing revolution, with page layout software and laser printers, made newsletter and brochure printing affordable to small businesses and just about everyone else. Now 3D printing promises to do the same (or something close to it) for objects otherwise requiring complex manufacturing techniques and machinery.
What does this mean for business owners and entrepreneurs? It essentially opens up a world of possibilities. And you dont even need to own your own 3D printer. You can take advantage of these exciting capabilities at a Staples 3D Printing Experience Center in our Manhattan 5th Avenue store and our Studio City location in Los Angeles. You can see a 3D printer in action, or take advantage of this technology for your small business. Consider these four ways they can impact your business.
Lets be clear: As amazing as 3D printing is already, this is just the beginning, with potential applications for everything from aerospace to medicine. And nows the time you can be ahead of a trend thats likely to shape how we do business for years to come.