WAGO has adopted a fascinating 3D print strategy for their electronics business.
The German company specializes in the production and sales of electrical connection components and automation tech. You can buy terminal blocks, connectors, power terminal, power supplies, wiring, overvoltage protection and similar products from them.
WAGO is not a new company, having been launched in the 1950s, long before the advent of 3D print technology. Nevertheless, the company took a very interesting step into that technology recently.
They’ve launched what they call “WAGO Creators”. It’s a specialized online site where the public can contribute 3D printable models that work with the company’s products.
For example, at top you see an “8mm T-Slot mount for 4x Wago 221-412”, clearly something that would work only with that specific WAGO product. The translated description is:
“This is a bracket for 4x Wago 221-412 Lever Nuts that fits into 40x40mm T-slot extrusion with an 8mm wide slot. It requires a single 4mm bolt and t-nut to hold it in place. There is an 8mm wide tang on the underside that fits into the slot and prevents rotation.”
You get the idea: WAGO users who have created all manner of useful doodads for their WAGO parts can now share them with other WAGO users through this service.
Each item has a detailed description and the ability to add comments and give a “thumbs up”. This allows site users to gain a bit of feedback about the quality of each item.
The published designs can be viewed in 3D, and ultimately downloaded digitally for local 3D printing. WAGO also offers a way to “order” one of these submitted items to be 3D printed automatically, and it seems they’ve hooked up with i.Materialise to do so.
As of this writing, there are around 250 items submitted to WAGO’s 3D repository, which is not insignificant. It’s likely there will be plenty more as WAGO customers discover the ability to share models. Eventually it may be that WAGO may have to invest in a beefier search mechanism.
What’s really interesting is that all of these items directly relate to specific WAGO products, often mentioning them by part number. This collection of 3D models is very tightly aligned with WAGO’s business.
While you can find lots of company product aids on massive sites like Thingiverse, they are effectively buried and not really noticeable. Here WAGO has all of the relevant 3D models front and center for users.
I’m wondering if this is a strategy that could be used by other manufacturers of consumer or industrial products. Here we see WAGO adding a big dose of stickiness to their products through this dedicated 3D model repository, which will no doubt increase customer use, retain customers, and attract new customers. Even better, WAGO needed only to set up the site and customers provide the content.
This is one of the key ways a company can leverage the now-widespread presence of desktop 3D printers, something few have taken advantage of.
So far the only other companies that have attempted something slightly similar might be IKEA, which has a small 3D repository of their own called “ThisAbles”, which is a small set of assistive products to use with their products. However, it’s provided by the company, not its users.
I think WAGO is on to something here, and I’m hoping some forward-looking companies adopt the same strategy.
Via WAGO Creators (Hat tip to Benjamin)