3D Printing Disappearing Into Specialized Firms

, 3D Printing Disappearing Into Specialized Firms
Healthcare 3D prints [Source: Anatomize]

There was a time when “3D Printing” would be prominently played on a commercial venture. Those days are fading. 

Some years ago there was a certain kind of magic associated with the term, “3D Printing”. It was in the news constantly and everyone was amazed by its incredible ability to create anything instantly, just like a Star Trek replicator. Except, that wasn’t real. 

But the buzz was indeed real. The term did attract attention, page views and ultimately some business, hopefully. As a result many companies used the term constantly. Some 3D printer manufacturers portrayed themselves as makers of 3D printers, not as 3D printers that would make anything in particular. That’s because “3D printing” was enough. 

Of course, it was not. 

As the buzz faded, 3D printing companies had to specifically reach out to various industries in an effort to generate business. Businesses would no longer buy 3D printers as an experiment; they had to have a valid, provable business case to do so. The machines had to actually provide a benefit. 

That’s much harder to achieve, of course. You need to have a deep understanding of the particular application space in order to persuade buyers that your product truly does provide benefit. One vendor I know of solved this issue by literally hiring a dentist to speak about their products at dental conferences. Dentists trust other dentists, apparently. 

Today we find 3D printing vendors increasingly focusing on specific application areas, because that’s now where the money resides. Few businesses would just “buy a 3D printer” for fun. You find 3D Systems focusing on Healthcare, or Formlabs focusing on Dentistry, or Stratasys focusing on transport vehicle interiors, and so on.

Yes, these companies would all provide 3D printers to anyone who requested one even beyond those areas, but it seems they are pushing hard in particular areas because there’s value present. 

But some vendors are now using 3D printing, yet the presence of the term itself is starting to fade away. A good example of this is India-based Anatomize 3D. 

This company provides a range of making services in the healthcare industry, including: 

  • Soft Tissue and Bone Modelling

  • Cutting and Drilling Guides

  • Custom Implant Designing

  • Education Models

  • ISO 13485 Certification

  • Product Development

  • Hospital Set-Up Consultancy

  • Bespoke 3D Printing Services

Sure, they mention bespoke 3D printing services, but in fact 3D printing is used in many of their other services. This is actually a 3D print service disguised as a healthcare service provider. 

Or is it? Is it really a healthcare service provider that happens to use 3D printing? 

I now believe the correct answer is the latter. 3D printing is merely a tool, and its purpose and benefit is defined by the application it’s used for. Thus it’s correct that the term “3D printing” should be largely absent from the company’s website. Their target clients don’t or shouldn’t care what kind of tech is used to prepare their goods. 

This is the trend for the future; we will gradually see 3D printing fade into applications as time passes. 

But what’s totally puzzling to me is that some companies still persist in marketing their 3D printers in a rather generic manner, without regard to specific applications. When asked, some actually say their equipment is “good for anything”. 

They’re wrong. 

Via Anatomize 3D

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