3D printing is a fantastic development for entrepreneurs because it provides a relatively low cost way to transform a vision in their head to physical reality! In fact, our CAD/CAM designer who also runs Melange (located on our “Friends” page) ran a very interesting business doing projects for individual purchasers. For example, want a “Star Wars” figurine of Han Solo with your head on it – Mike is your guy!
As previously stated, the problem is that the per unit costs tended to be high on a product like the SeaClutch because it required a fair amount of material to achieve the desired structural stability required to securely hold a picture frame. That material was much more expensive than injected plastics!
I reached out to the 3D printing company I had been using for the prototypes and attempted to negotiate a volume discount. I contacted their account manager who explained how they provided flexibility in the “manufacturing chain”, that there were no “up front production costs” and that we could make custom modifications based on customer feedback.
I agreed that those were all very good things, but how much could they get my per unit cost down to?
He again reminded me that there was no cost of molds, that they were infinitely scalable with a variety of different materials and colors.
How much I asked?
He told me that it depended on how many units, the material, lead time, etc. I asked him to come up with a per unit price for a minimum order of 10,000 units.
When I got his quote, I was shocked! It was easily 100 times more than I had been quoted in other places! At that point it became obvious that I was going to be unable to avoid the cost associated with tooling molds, so I needed to find a manufacturer.
So I went back to the internet to look for one.