Sculpteo Focuses on the Factory of the Future & Lean Hardware


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download-27Aside from the advent of ‘smart’ technologies saturating our world, from phones to appliances and robotics, it seems that today we know a lot more about how to do pretty much everything. With such vast access to information on all fronts, we’re more connected and able to learn from not only our own experiences but those of many around the world, applying to both successes and, sometimes, massive—and well publicized—failures.

The realm of the entrepreneur has certainly benefited from the information age. Before we go to launch a product or a new company, we have everything at our fingertips for education on all the best ways to prepare for success, whether we are reading, YouTube-ing, absorbing podcasts, or even attending courses—whether those be in person or online. Recently, Sculpteo took time out to discuss the tenets of Eric Ries’ The Lean Startup and how it applies to 3D technology in terms of going lean—more specifically with lean hardware.

Focusing on learning, building, and measuring, Ries aims to show entrepreneurs how to improve speed and productivity in the startup phase. It’s crucial to have a detailed concept for your product, understanding how it will actually benefit your target customer base and what they will really use it for. With all that you learn there, you can build your product in a streamlined manner. Once you have completed the prototype, it’s time to measure as you test your product.

For the lean startup, much of the initial success is in producing a quality prototype fast and getting it out there. This of course is where 3D printing steps in, offering myriad benefits for those beginning in business—from the opportunities in customization and self-sustainability to affordability and speed. But even as affordability and accessibility for 3D printing does become a reality worldwide, the truth is that many still do not have the bucks to shell out for 3D printing equipment, the materials, the maintenance, and more. Not to mention mastering the technology, which is another concern altogether.

You may be starting a business that has the funds and the time to begin pumping out prototypes on a 3D printer, and if so, you are on the fast track indeed; if not, however, it’s just as easy to contact a 3D printing service provider like Sculpteo and send your prototyping work out. This not only saves you the hefty price-tag of buying equipment but it also means you can focus on business plans rather than making things.


Drone from Nano-Racing

Sculpteo refers to the hardware startup accelerator HAXLR8R, pointing out that ‘the first revolution in lean hardware’ came about due to technology like the following:

  • Trackers
  • 3D printers
  • CNC machines
  • Laser cutters
  • Drones

“…But all of these technologies are often too expensive for small hardware businesses and startups to invest in,” states Hannah Bensoussan from Sculpteo.

Undeniably, the 3D printing service is a great convenience for the lean hardware entrepreneur.

“In a week, you can have your own prototype in your mailbox. It has never been easier, faster or cheaper to experience your products: you don’t have to invest in the machine, learn to use it, and take care of maintenance. You avoid the costs of injection molding, without any added complexities. Once the alpha is tested and once all its flaws have been put in light, you just have to upload your new design to get the beta another week later,” states Sculpteo.

The French company has an overall focus on what they call the ‘factory of the future,’ however, going beyond just 3D printing and offering services like laser cutting.

And as Sculpteo works with companies from all around the world, they have many examples to draw from, such as the Helix Cuff from Ashley Chloe product, offering wireless headphones.

“It is always easier to get more relevant feedback if you can show your product and let the other person feel it and use it,” said Angela Pan, CEO of Ashley Chloe, in a recent interview.

Pan was successful from the outset, with prototypes and feedback from customers given within just a couple of weeks, exemplifying Sculpteo clients; as a matter of fact, when the Sculpteo team struck out to discuss the topic of lean hardware in detail, they looked at which of their clients would serve as good examples, and realized that was all of them. They highlighted other startups like Nano-Racing, the manufacturer of mini 3D printed racing drones, and Norduung of Slovenia, offering an electric bike that combines music and other innovations.


Norduung electric bike

“Lean hardware is a term we don’t hear much, but it is everywhere, because it simply makes more sense, today, to manufacture iteratively, using easily available and affordable services like ours,” says Sculpteo. “It allows to gain efficiency in terms of cost and iterations. And like we said earlier, our customers also all confirmed that Sculpteo services made it way easier for them to access their first prototypes quickly and to iterate them in accordance to their customer’s needs.”

While 3D printing generally offers great benefit in affordability and speed on its own, 3D printing services can be an even better option for many. Find out more about Sculpteo here, along with checking out their very helpful infographic about digital manufacturing. Discuss in the Sculpteo forum at

[Source / Images: Sculpteo]

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