You3Dit offers all the necessary resources to transform a concept from an image in someone’s head into a physical prototype. We accept specs from any medium—napkin sketches, pictures, even mere problem descriptions. Our design engineers then submit a number of computer-aided design (CAD) solutions, and the customer chooses one to manufacture. For a simplified example, a user seeking a keychain simply uploads their logo onto the marketplace, then a design engineer designs the product and fabricates it using our distributed ecosystem of manufacturing machines (like the example Breadware keychain below, designed and fabricated in under 30 minutes).
Speed: our value to big companies in prototyping
For big companies, our value mainly comes in the area of speed. With us, they can move at the speed of a startup.
In enterprise organizations, new product initiatives typically require large amounts of money and manufacturing resources. (Not to mention, conventional thinking at big companies can easily stall progress on new ideas.) Instead, our most innovative clients choose to run those processes independent of their organization so their stealth projects can compete with their internal design and manufacturing teams. They see it as an empirical question--regardless of which “team” yields a better product, the company ultimately wins through the generation of multiple solutions, perspectives, and alternatives to solving the same problem, thereby finding the best solution for their clients. Our added speed is often the difference, especially in new fields that benefit from rapid iteration. In IoT, for instance, faster iteration from idea to functional prototype can be the difference in a company being first-to-market or failing. When pitching new enterprise clients, we often suggest, “Why not put us up to the challenge, competing with your internal team?” Since our design philosophy embraces rapid and recurring iteration, we know we’re likely to win.
Access: how we help small companies go from concept to market
For small companies, we provide access to capability and capacity they wouldn’t otherwise have in the context of design engineering and manufacturing. Our marketplace provides access to engineers with over 80 different CAD packages and more than $10M worth of machines spread around the world.
The network of marketplace locations that You3Dit services are located
Like how AirBnB provides local housing for travelers of any taste, our customers can rent a local machine that solves their problem and cuts down on production lead time. You wouldn’t want to use a screwdriver to hammer in a nail. But what if you can’t afford a hammer, or don’t want to buy one because you only need it for a single nail? We offer specialized digital manufacturing tools like 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC machines and more, all accessible from one central hub, with the final product delivered to you.
We also minimize problems with intellectual property (IP) protection. Small companies can have trouble with other prototyping channels because IP protection can cost thousands, and outsourcing a prototype overseas, breaking chain of custody, may lose your IP. With our marketplace, however, a customer can safely create a prototype under the radar, kicking off a project without a terribly large monetary investment.
Two other key stakeholders in our product design marketplace: design engineers and fabricators
This marketplace ecosystem also serves two other groups: design engineers and fabricators. Design engineers, such as mechanical engineers or CAD enthusiasts, can offer their software skills to make money through our site. Then, fabricators—people with digital manufacturing tools like 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC machines, water jet cutters, and more—can quote and produce fabrication jobs. Enabling flexibility for this talented workforce empowers them to live better on their own schedule, anywhere in the world.
Our philosophy: design globally, make locally
Digital files can move over the internet at the speed of light. The best designer should design, regardless of their location.
Then, products should be made locally to support local economies, eliminate transportation/shipping steps, and expedite a customer’s iteration speed. Local production may mean shipping a short distance (e.g. the two-hour drive from Sacramento to Reno). To avoid the headache of customers having to make their own calculations, our marketplace employs an intelligence layer that determines the optimal location to produce parts.
The Rapid Innovation Cycle—our underlying technology for new product development
Our approach to design and manufacturing stemmed out of an innovative market-testing process for new products and services that my colleagues and I published in business school. It applies the scientific model to business, a relatively novel idea back in 2011.
The lean startup method is all about building, testing, and learning. It helps people generate new concepts, create solutions, and rapidly prototype to see if the solution holds water. Similarly, product development is a series of experimenting with the market, customer, and cycle. Prototypes might not physically fit the first time you try to snap them together. They typically won’t pass their first experience with a customer. It’s important to have a rapidly iterative process that doesn’t break the bank.
To see how stakeholders respond, companies need physical products. A napkin sketch doesn’t allow a customer to engage with the product. When I made a keychain for Breadware, I went from idea to offering in under 30 minutes. I asked the Breadware team, “Would you pay $10 for this?” They replied, “Sorry, $10 is too high.” I had near-instant feedback of watching prospective clients respond to a physical product. If a two-dimensional picture is worth a thousand words, how much is a 3D prototype worth?
(Chris, the founder, had presented us the prototype so quickly and timely for this article!)
The rapid innovation cycle can compliment software-focused market experiments, like a company creating a landing page and buying $1000 worth of Google ads. It can truly be rapid, too—with many iterations taking less than an hour.
Hardware: a booming opportunity, especially for IoT solutions
Currently, all the popular consumer sites depend on one piece of hardware—our smartphones. Imagine peppering sensors and actuators all around the world, all connected to the internet without requiring a phone. The new information and capabilities are astonishing.
With so many new solutions, it’s important to keep in mind: every software piece sits on some hardware. IoT’s paradigm shift brings along massive opportunities for hardware inventors.
Have an idea? Make a prototype.
Having seen thousands of products, the best advice I can give to device inventors is build it. Make something, even if it’s a terrible prototype made of legos and clay. Once you have a prototype, you can start new conversations, get new ideas, and recruit clients, teammates, and investors. People want to see activity. They want to see a tangible product. Execution is what separates success from failure. Next time you have an idea, build it.
Want to make your idea a reality? Contact You3Dit on Ioterra.