I had the opportunity to talk with Jim Corliss, Owner of Braintree Printing about his experiences as a printer getting into the 3D printing business. Jim has nearly a year of experience in marketing, selling and producing 3D work. That experience brought the discussion out of the theoretical and into the real.
The conversation was both tantalizing and aggravating. Tantalizing because of the information he shared and aggravating because I’m going to have to wait until his AppForum general session to hear the rest of his story.
GC: The media is fascinated by 3D printing but they typically focus on what seems to be hobbyist or one-off specialty printing. Have you found this technology to be viable for production work?
JC: Absolutely. Not only is the technology ready and available for a production environment but it is also affordable enough for printers to acquire. And the technology and the market are changing at an explosive rate. I’ve seen 3D printing market growth rate numbers like 30% per year with indications that the rate itself is increasing. This is particularly exciting for those of us used to working in the very mature printing market.
GC: What types of 3D printing work do you do?
JC: The initial primary applications we’ve worked on focus on rapid prototyping for design engineers. This new technology not only shortens the design life cycle, but it can help explain and sell design concepts more easily than CAD drawings and more quickly and inexpensively than traditional modelling approaches. But those types of jobs are simply new ways to solve old problems. There is a tremendous opportunity for new, creative applications to do things that were never even possible before.
GC: What are the challenges you’ve faced getting into this business?
JC: Connecting with the right clients and marketing to them is probably the toughest challenge. You need to reach different types of clients who have never heard of you. You need to market your abilities as well as the possibilities of the technology itself to convince them to consider a new approach with a new vendor.
GC: Good point, so what have you done to market to these clients? How have you convinced them to change their modeling methods and to work with a printer to do modeling?
JC: We’ve found that there are a lot of valid reasons for using a print provider to do this type of work beyond the word “print” in 3D printing. However, you’re going to have to wait until my AppForum general session to hear more. And then, of course, if I still haven’t answered everything, you can buy me a beer and we’ll brainstorm some more ideas while we’re there.
GC: Rats, patience is NOT one of my virtues.
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