There seems to be two kinds of 3D printer manufacturers these days: those who focus on specifications, and those who don’t.
It’s a matter of trying to sell equipment, which is, of course, the goal of all manufacturers. For many years, the dominant method of selling, particularly by small firms, was to emphasize the technical specifications of their products.
I’ve seen many companies focus on specifications like these:
- Large build volume
- Tall build volume
- High temperature hot end
- Swappable nozzles
- Fast print speed
- Rigid frame
- Color touch screen
- Networking capability
- Multiple materials
And there are many more. To be sure, all of these are useful features that anyone would surely like to have in their desktop 3D printer.
But is the battle for market share really going to be won through better specifications?
Even though a company may develop a machine that has a better specification, they have no guarantee that a competitor might beat them next month with a new model. Specifications are made to be extended, and a lead is only temporary.
What the smart players in the industry seem to be increasingly doing is forgoing the statistics - and even in some cases forgoing the development of new hardware models - and focusing instead on increasing the usage of the existing models.
It answers the question, “what should I print?” If a company or individual cannot answer that question - on a daily basis, there is little reason for them to own and operate a 3D printer of any kind.
I keep seeing smart companies select a specific industry where they feel they could provide value, real value, to those in it. Markets such as education are growing rapidly for 3D printing, partly because leading companies are making life easier for those in education by providing class project material, training courses, hardware features enabling safe classroom use, student-oriented software, school sharing websites and much more.
Consider this: if you are an educator seeking a 3D printer, would you buy the machine with the superior specifications or the one with all the accompanying materials to make the using the device in the classroom easy, fun and productive?
I know which one I’d choose.
It’s because 3D printing is merely a tool. People and organizations don’t seek tools, they seek to achieve their own objectives, objectives that might require the use of tools.
Focusing on the usage will lead to far more sales than will focusing on the tool.