Smart International is now a long way from the days of their KODAK Portrait system.
The Argentine company has been building 3D printers for quite some time, but made a big move when they obtained the license from KODAK to brand their professional device, now known as the Portrait. This machine has been quite successful and we even use one in our lab.
Macro 3D Printer
But in the past month the company took another giant leap by announcing the fascinating Macro series of industrial 3D printers. These huge devices are an unusual hybrid of a prototyping configuration and a scalable production configuration. This flexibility is apparently of great interest to clients looking at the Macro system.
But making a new kind of 3D printer is not the whole story here, as Smart International must also sell this machine to buyers worldwide. That’s usually done by local resellers, and they must be in place before any sales can take place.
No problem, I thought, as Smart International already has a worldwide set of resellers established for their KODAK-branded equipment.
Not so fast, that won’t work!
Industrial 3D Printer Resellers
Those resellers are selling the KODAK Portrait, which is a professional-level device. It’s suitable for labs, education, architects, and other similar office-style usage. The resellers of this device have audiences of that type, and they don’t often have larger manufacturers on their contact lists — it’s a completely different audience.
Smart International must therefore build a NEW reseller network composed of parties that have the right kind of contacts. In a way, it’s almost like starting over.
Helen Blesky of Smart International told me:
“We are mainly looking at new resellers that specialize in industrial 3D printers. There is quite a good fit with resellers of metal printers, that already are or are looking to expand into FFF.”
This makes a great deal of sense, as those companies that buy industrial metal 3D printers are likely more-or-less the same kind of audience that would buy the industrial Macro system. Even better, the resellers of metal 3D printers would always like to add more options to their sales portfolio, and an industrial FFF system would be quite appropriate.
Ironically, it seems that the KODAK Portrait may also play a role in this transformation. Blesky says:
”The KODAK Portrait is actually quite a good test case for companies that have never used 3D printing, as they can see the quality of parts that can be produced with nylons, ABS etc. Some resellers sell both desktop and industrial printers, but the majority though, seem to focus on one or the other. For the Macro we are actively seeking resellers more on the industrial side of the market.”
Building a successful 3D printer manufacturing business has far more to do than just building the machine.
In fact, it’s only the start.