Ever since 3D printing began to reach out to a wider demographic, many entrepreneurs have dreamt of launching the brand that will emerge as the leading global brick and mortar 3D print shop and service franchise. iMakr, 3DiTALY, iGo3D, even system manufacturers like MakerBot and Sharebot have started 3D print shop franchises with alternating fortunes. Today, if one 3D print shop franchise looks set to establish a globally exportable business model, that is 3D Printing Studios.
When presenting the recent NAMIC conference on AM for the maritime and energy industries, I had the opportunity to visit 3D Printing Studios Singapore and learn that the company has everything it takes to bring 3D printing to a global audience. Remember Risk? Taking Australia was often the key to dominate the world and win the game. It was easy to hold even when the battle was still young and enabled the player to build up its armies while everyone else was fighting it out to take and hold North America, Europe or Africa. Once you had enough tanks you could expand out to Asia and North Africa.
The 3D Printing Studios story looks all too similar. The company has already successfully exported its business model across an Ocean. After it was founded in Australia and overcoming some challenges in the local market, it has established shops in Sydney and Melbourne (closing the one in Brisbane) and has now made it to Singapore to serve the Asian region. Second, as I met with the Singapore shop’s owner, Jason Joo, it appeared clear to me that he has a very clear vision of where the company is headed and how it will get there, by progressively expanding the range of services and products it offers.
Taking over the CBD’s
“Our business model is based on physical shops that are strategically placed in a city’s central business district so that professional users can come visit us and learn first hand what types of digital manufacturing services we are able to provide,” Joo explains. His own background is in computer science so his approach to manufacturing started by envisioning the benefits of CAD-CAM based production. While 3D Printing Studios is already eyeing the idea of providing true production capabilities, the company built up its strength by specializing in high-level, end-to-end 3D printing services. This means they have built up significant expertise not only in the AM process but also in the design and finishing processes. What distinguished 3D Printing Studios from more “traditional” professional prototyping and AM servicing the global manufacturing industry is their modern approach – which can appeal to both experience industrial clients and those who are approaching manufacturing for the first time.
Leveraging its network of shops and services, every 3D Printing Studios store is able to offer a very wide range of technologies. The Singapore shop has desktop SLA as well as industrial level binder jetting and FDM systems present on location. However, it can offer its clients high speed multijet fusion, selective laser sintering, and metal (DMLS) printing capabilities. This is combined with finishes such as metallization and even injection molding of parts if the job requires it.
Urban AM users often include professionals. In particular Architect studios and Medical practices. “These types of clients are an integral part of our core business and we continue to support them extensively,” Joo says. “Although the color 3D printing craze for consumers has died down, we use color 3D printing technologies such as binder jetting and polyjet to provide professional level models for architects and medical field operators.”
Choosing the right product
3D Printing Studios is also al 3D product reseller. The company has established strong working relationships with several retailers and is able to provide many different grade systems and materials. “We focus on one brand of 3D printer for each technology level and grade,” Joo explains. “We select them carefully and test them extensively. We also use them ourselves to provide services and organize educational initiatives such as workshops and courses.”
The studios offer the full Cubicon range to meet the consumer-desktop user demand. Cubicon offers a number of products that are bot reliable and easy to use. The current 3D Printing Studios product selection also includes systems from INTAMSYS to processes more high-end materials while the Lisa system from Sinterit addresses the benchtop SLS market. 3D Printing Studios also offers a range of filament products, including materials from Verbatim and a selection of biodegradable materials.
Now that the company has the 3D print shop and prototyping service business locked down, the next objective include further expansion to other nearby countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand. This expansion would be supported by a full-size 3D printing production facility in Singapore. The carefully organized Singapore business framework – along with the investments that the local government is making in promoting the adoption and development of additive manufacturing – makes it easier to reach out to possible customers and consolidate the business while launching the next “offensive”. The rest of the world awaits.