Does 3D printing hold the key to success?

Startup success is linked to innovative ideas and technology, with 3D printing helping new businesses make their mark on the manufacturing industry.


In the past few years, 3D printing has transitioned from impossible technology to attainable hobby, promoting cheap access to product creation for aspiring startups.

Previously, creating a physical product from scratch had been an expensive procedure, often limiting innovative development to larger companies with the capital to invest in the manufacturing process.

Now, the power is in the hands of the people, greatly reducing the resources needed to design and prototype products. While tech startups have always had links to being homegrown businesses – think Apple starting out in a garage – 3D printing allows them to break into the manufacturing industry.

How can startups utilise 3D printers?

The ideal way for startups to become successful with 3D printers is not too different to how other small businesses are approaching development.

Like other emerging tech companies, these startups also rely on a sense of community to form and sculpt products and ideas. Startup incubators specially formed for encouraging 3D printing are also becoming prominent. A US example recently announced a competition specifically for these companies, designed to foster innovation in small manufacturing businesses.

The foundation America Makes revealed plans for its AMPED startup competition that focuses on 3D printing. The prizes include up to $100,000 for investment purposes and around $50,000 of business assistance to ensure the winning companies have the support they need to make the best of the funding.

These incubators are there for startups looking to secure with funding, especially as 3D printers – despite being significantly cheaper than previous years – are still expensive enough to deter some companies. This is according to Gartner, which found that some companies are still trying to justify this spending.

Where can this lead to?

As this technology is still in the adoption phase, there is plenty of room for startups with innovative ideas and practices to make their mark on the industry.

A US company discovered the extent of this potential when Ford hired them to explore the future of 3D printing in the prototyping process for automotive firms. CEO and Co-founder of Carbon3D Joseph DeSimone said the recent partnership is an opportunity for the company to grow.

“Working with Ford offers a great opportunity to further prove our technology’s ability to produce the wide range of material and mechanical properties that are needed across the automotive industry to truly achieve 3D manufacturing,” he said.