3D Pontential

Posted by Elle Moore on

Hi Everybody!

Today’s topic is 3D printing! Recently I’ve been really interested in it and it’s potential. This came about because I’ve been looking into more cost effective long term solutions for small runs of my products. 

For example to get 500 custom die cut stickers it costs upwards of $60-$70. A little over 10 cents a piece. Really it’s a great value. Except when I only want 20 and that would cost exponentially more coming from a manufacturer (like most manufactured goods the more you buy in an order the more cost effective it is per unit). Or I could make them myself (labor included) for about the same cost per sticker and at a fraction of the time. This is better for me because I don’t have products just sitting collecting dust and have the freedom to put a new product up for sale in a matter of hours. 

Now back to 3D printing! 

The reason I’m so interested in it is because I think it could be a great investment. A solution for pins! Because unlike stickers pins cost hundreds of dollars per order, even 50 pins could cost around $150 plus depending on who you order them from. Which isn’t a lot. But when you start crunching the numbers for how much it costs per pin, plus all the packaging and shipping fees you’ll pay for a single order, it gets expensive. Especially considering the turnover time  

So as a small business owner saving time and money is a big priority. And investing in diy processes for my products can have a huge impact on how I run every thing. Plus I really like crafting. 

So if you don’t know much 3D printers here we go! DISCLAIMER: I don’t much about it either and have only used a filament printer. 

In the recent years desktop 3D printers have advanced and become more affordable. And there’s several options and methods for how you can 3D print. For now I’ll be talking about SLA printing. 

SLA stands for stereolithography. Basically there’s a basin of resin with a clear bottom. A platform dips into the bottom and a laser/light shines through rapidly curing the resin onto the platform. The platform lifts and the resin grows! Thus you have a model. 

The advantage of resin printers is that they’re able to achieve a higher quality of prints. Which is exactly what I’d be looking for pins. I’d be able to streamline my ability to manufacture custom designs! 

Besides pins there’s a whole slew of possibilities for future products I could put in the shop. Like keychains, miniatures, phone stands and cases, jewelry! Really the possibilities are endless.

That being said there are some cons. For one thing there’s the initial start cost. Most low end SLA printers start at $500. A big chunk of change that has the potential to have a big pay off. Another issue is maintenance. After every print the resin has to be completely cleaned out of the basin or you run the risk of it curing and ruining the basin. Which can be messy and is hazardous, gloves are a must throughout the print process. On top of that depending on the printer and resin there can have awful fumes so ventilation is really important.

With all that said I think a 3D printer would be a huge asset for Addle Chair. And I may start saving for the investment. 

What do you think about 3D printing? Have you ever dabbled in it? Let me know in the comments below what you guys think! 

Have a good weekend!


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