Some of the biggest names in 3D printing are so big that it can be easy to take them for granted at this point; of course we can turn to manufacturers like Stratasys and 3D Systems for the latest in industrial 3D printing, of course we can buy some really incredible 3D printed pieces from marketplaces like Shapeways, of course we can turn to Sculpteo for… well, just about anything. But how did they get where they are now, and what precipitated the turns they took — and where are they going from here?
I recently had the opportunity to find out a bit more about Sculpteo, which is certainly among the companies we cover frequently here at 3DPrint.com. From being at the forefront of the latest technology available in 3D printing to having a great sense of humor about the industry to integrating features to their annual state of the market report, Sculpteo has a lot to offer — in terms of both quantity and quality. It seems some days that wherever I turn for the latest news, Sculpteo is there, answering questions and offering new features.But how did Sculpteo come to be this household (well, in 3D printing circles) name, and what can we look forward to? With some new releases coming up — including, as we’ve just found out, the new “fast mode” service to launch tomorrow, April 8 — I had just A Few Questions For Clément Moreau, CEO and Co-Founder of Sculpteo, which he graciously answered, providing insight into this far-reaching company. 3DPrint.com interviewed Moreau last April, and it’s certainly interesting to see now what the last year has brought to Sculpteo!
Can you fill us in on the history of Sculpteo? What might we not already know about how the company came to be?
Sculpteo was founded in the Fall of 2009 in Paris, France. The initial founders were Eric Carreel, Jacques Lewiner, and myself. Our aim was to create an additive manufacturing service that made this technology available to the public in a way that goes beyond prototyping, and gadgets, and was easy and intuitive to use.
What initially led you personally to 3D technology?
I realized the potential of additive manufacturing in 2008 while working on a project that included a circuit board, software and an enclosure. When the software and electronics were ready, my team considered injection molding to manufacture the enclosure, but due to cost we had to stop the process because my bosses at the time didn’t want to pay for the cost of the first mold. It was way too expensive! I’ll never forget the feeling of having a great project cancelled due to the lack of cost effective manufacturing solutions for first run of production. I started doing research on additive manufacturing processes and I immediately saw the potential for this technology as a service.
What’s the biggest difference between Sculpteo as it is now and when it was first founded?
The biggest difference over the past seven years is our positioning in the market. We originally started with a business to consumer model. We have since refocused our efforts on business to business because businesses, both large and small, are the ones that have the greatest need and can benefit the most from additive manufacturing technology.
What differences do you note in Sculpteo’s operations and/or customers in Europe versus in the US?
Operationally there is not a big difference between our Europe office and our US office, but in terms of customers there are differences. The biggest difference is that our users in the US know more about the technology, which is a huge benefit, since it shortens the whole process. Also in the US customers decide to change between the technologies faster. Whereas in Europe customers tend to stick with proven technologies
What is your favorite thing about running Sculpteo?
Wow, there are so many things. But if I had to pick just one I’d say it is the vast variety and uses of the parts our users are creating. I am truly impressed with the items that we make for some of our users. Many of them are modeled very well and they really take full advantage of the benefits that additive manufacturing has to offer. It is great to know they are using our services to save time and money over other means of manufacturing. Something else that I really enjoy is trying to guess what the user will do with the parts when they come out of the machine!
A project from our first year in business was surprising. A customer was using Sculpteo to renovate church organs across Europe. It was very surprising to see this cutting edge technology in use to renovate 17th century musical instruments. As you can imagine we now work with many companies in the music and audio industry across Europe and the US. But it was very surprising at the time.
Sculpteo seems to do it all, with a reach into several aspects of 3D printing, from design to materials to to services sharing advice; how do you maintain a successful breadth of operations?
In everything we do there’s a common theme, we strive to make the customer experience as pleasant and as simple as possible. We understand that switching from traditional manufacturing to additive manufacturing is not always an easy choice so we try to provide as much assistance as possible, in the form of sharing advice, case studies and making new technologies and materials available to our users.
Can you tell us anything exciting coming up for Sculpteo?
Yes, we are going to be releasing a few new options in the coming months, but later this week we will be offering a service we call “fast mode”. We will be able to provide our customers with faster turnaround times for specific materials beginning on April 8th.
What do you see as ‘the next big thing’ in AM?
Do you know what they’ll call AM in 5-10 years? Just manufacturing!
With so much more to come from Sculpteo — and from “just manufacturing” — in the future, we’ll certainly be doing all we can to keep up with this company and all its soon-to-be-released features and services! Find out more about Sculpteo at their website and on their Facebook page.