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On 3D-Printing

by Newprint | August 03, 2018

Over the course of three years, we have extensively looked into the subject of 3D-Printing. Using risk capital, we were Germany’s first print provider to dare go three-dimensional: In early 2015, we established our own independent 3D-printing business (Blueprint3D). Head first we delved into the hype of figure printing that first took hold of major cities and later extended to regional centres. Acting as a production back-end, we supplied 3D-body scanner operators all across Europe with full-colour 3D-printed figurines. At our workshop, we had so carefully perfected the processing that we were able to deliver multi-award winning figures: They would have been the best of their kind in Germany at the time.

Apart from full-colour gypsum prints, we were able to offer metals (e.g. gold or silver) as well as several plastics and resins that also proved to be suitable materials.

Another key element of our business model was the creation of printable data from 3D-scans.

Here, we established a close cooperation with a New Delhi software company and trained many of their 3D-specialists in the processing of such data. We could then sell files processed in India on our behalf to other 3D- print providers that did not have the necessary facilities or capacities.

However, in 2016 the hype for figure printing began to ease off – For us, that signified the elimination of our main source of sales. Nevertheless, projects beyond figure printing such as art, architecture or souvenirs proved to be just as intriguing. Our clients included Wolfgang Joop, Vistit Berlin Tourism Marketing, Hedwig Bollhagen Ceramics and Vattenfall. Still, those projects were never frequent (and thus, profitable) enough to cover the expenses of a fully-furbished 3D-printing workshop with its high material, machinery and staff costs.

With that in mind, we reluctantly made the decision to close our 3D-printing branch as of December 31st 2016. And we’re in good company: More than 90% of 3D-printing start-ups are forced to stop their operations within their first two years. Nonetheless, it has been an incredibly exciting chapter in our company history! It’s been fun and we’ve sure learnt a lot. The takeaway:

The time hasn’t come yet, the market is overestimated and production costs remain too high.