We’ve recently posted several stories about the new Kodak 3D printer, but there is a bit of a story behind the project.
It turns out the Kodak Portrait 3D printer is NOT actually made by Kodak. It’s made by another company, Smart International.
I know what you’re thinking now: Kodak has simply taken a random 3D printer and slapped their brand on it. But that’s not the case at all, it turns out.
We spoke with Demian Gawianski, COO of Smart International, to find out more about how this arrangement came about.
Smart International is a company based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, that has been making 3D printers of various sorts for six years. They still have a factory in Argentina, where the Kodak machine is being built.
Their arrangement with Kodak was finalized 1.5 years ago, but the story began earlier. Kodak hired a new Chief Marketing Officer three years ago, who had ideas of bringing forward a 3D printing option for Kodak. Their CMO received many proposals from different 3D printer companies, each wanting to be the manufacturer of Kodak’s equipment.
Kodak had many to choose from, and from what we understand, took the applicants and Smart International through a very rigorous examination process, which apparently involved calls, meetings and even “interrogations”.
Kodak’s 3D printing strategy was to align with their current market: creative professionals. This immediately cut out any 3D printer manufacturing proposals involving industrial or hobbyist equipment, leaving the makers of professional desktop 3D printing equipment for consideration.
Eventually Kodak awarded Smart International with a “Global Brand License”, which enabled them to produce the Kodak Portrait 3D printer. Gawianski explained that the license was “very difficult to obtain.”
And it’s not a “here’s the logo and good luck” arrangement either: we’re told that Kodak continually checks up on Smart International to ensure they’re meeting the standards required to maintain the branding license. Gawianski says “Kodak has very high expectations,” and “they check EVERYTHING!”
Kodak also works closely with Smart International, providing expertise in a variety of areas, which is certainly very helpful. One area in particular is Kodak’s advanced materials unit, which provides expertise on 3D printing materials.
For Smart International, the acquisition of the license is critical, as it immediately opens up a world of opportunities. The Kodak brand is immediately recognized everywhere, and if they are marketing a 3D printer, many people will at least be curious about it.
But once you look at the Portrait 3D printer, you’ll see that all of these efforts have paid off with a powerful desktop 3D printer entirely suitable for professionals.
The machine will be released later this year, but for now Smart International is seeking quality resellers to market the equipment in local regions and industries.