Meet the Startups Using 3D-Printing Tech to Transform Their Industries
If You Print It…
3D-printing your product is a great way to call attention to a company. But it makes financial and business sense too.
The revolutionary tech can help small businesses personalize products and start selling without a lot of inventory – just print it when the orders come in.
Check out a few of our favorite startups embracing 3D printing for their products.
To order a pair of shoes at Feetz, customers download the company’s app and take a few photos of their feet to create a 3D model. It’s a few more steps than it takes at Zappos, but the shoes are made just for each customer’s feet. Once the order is received, the shoes take about 12 hours to create. Lucy Beard, the CEO of Feetz, imagines this process will be the norm very soon. “I saw 3D printers in a magazine, and I thought ‘mass customization’,” she told The New York Times. “In 10 years you won’t physically try on a pair of shoes.”
Shoes rarely fit correctly, so they are the perfect product to customize using 3D technology. But if you can’t print all your shoes yet, the next best thing might be 3D-printed insoles. Wiivv’s custom-made insoles are created using five photos of customers feet, which are digitally mapped to 200 points on the arch and heel of each foot. The insoles can help reduce joint and foot pain, according to the company. Wiivv got its start as a Kickstarter project.
3D-printed objects have rarely been seen as high design products, until OTHR and their 3D-printed home goods came along. OTHR creates objects like juicers, letter openers, bookends and bird cages in steel and ceramic through collaborations with interior designers. Joe Doucet, a founding member of OTHR, had previously used 3D printing to create prototypes, but when he discovered he could print in metals like steel “it was a revelation about the industry,” he told Fast Company. Each piece is limited and numbered. “Our focus is on creating these amazing heirloom-quality objects that are made completely on demand,” he told the magazine.
When two former graduates of MIT decide they want to help kids eat just a bit neater, you can bet the solution will be high tech. The Spuni spoon is ergonomically designed with a shape that triggers the instinctive latching reaction that babies develop during breast and bottle feeding. The Spuni team designed and tested their spoon using 3D printing and still sell spoons in 3D-printed or digitally-milled boxes.
Love and Robots
Customized gifts have gone far beyond engraved photo frames from the mall. The Dublin-based company Love and Robots customizes gifts like jewelry, coasters, and cufflinks with unique colors, words, and images. The company proudly states that they hold no stock. “Each piece that we make is personalized to the wearer and is custom-made. Every product in our range exists in digital form until it is ordered.”
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