Industry leaders have been predicting that 3D printing would be the death of traditional manufacturing for several years now. However, we’re still not even close to that being a reality as 3D printing is still more expensive in time and resources than traditional mass production. But what if replacing traditional manufacturing is the wrong goal?
3D printing has been an unquestionable success within the areas of rapid prototyping and industrial manufacturing, but it has had trouble catching on in the large-scale consumer retail market. Small-scale and custom production is where 3D printing has really started to show its value to consumers. From jewelry to props to industrial part manufacturing, the ability to produce individual or short runs of products for little to no additional cost is allowing consumers unprecedented flexibility and customization options.
French software developer Dassault Systèmes is one of the largest 3D design software, 3D Digital Mock Up, and Product Lifecycle Management solution providers in the world. Their new 3D printing software called 3DVIA Make is bringing the world of customer-personalized products to businesses of any size without the requirement of large investments in software, inventory management or a large-scale shipping and fulfillment processes.
With 3DVIA Make, Dassault has adapted its robust 3D design and planning software to a simple, easy-to-use product personalization interface. This means that retailers can offer a small selection of products on their website that customers can extensively customize and have shipped directly to them without the retailer needing to produce or inventory any products in-house.
And unlike services like Shapeways or Materialise, 3DVIA Make can transmit and fulfill orders using options available to any 3D printing service or local service provider. So a retailer could provide a retail website and offer 3D printing options and materials from several different providers and not restrict themselves to the available material and finishing options from a single company.
“3D printing lets retailers reduce inventory and create products on-demand, and 3DVIA Make creates the ultimate customer-facing experience to take advantage of this flexibility,” explained Igal Kapstan, VP of Product Management, 3DVIA MakeE, Dassault Systèmes. “By letting consumers easily create personalized products that meet their exact needs with very little infrastructure cost for the retailer, 3DVIA Make’s collaborative personalization creates a win-win for the customer, retailer and brand.”
Using a standard WYSIWYG–What You See is What You Get–interface, 3DVIA Make provides consumers the ability to easily alter their selected product and view in 360 degrees with interactive, real time 3D rendering. Once the sale is finalized it can instantly be transmitted to a 3D printing service provider and shipped to the customer within a matter of days.
“Merchandise that can be highly personalized is going to be an important revenue-stream for online retailers in the years and decades to come,” said Taxal’s managing director, Allan Behrens. “3D printing technology is creating opportunities for sales and brand interactions that were simply not feasible a few years ago. Businesses that can effectively leverage this new ability to sell user-personalized merchandise, as well as manage the distributed manufacturing that’s necessary to maintain an on-demand supply-chain, will be significantly ahead of the curve as this technology continues to mature in the online marketplace.”
Software solutions like this are going to radically alter the landscape of businesses by giving them access to tools and manufacturing options not often available to them. And while the obvious use for 3DVIA Make would be products like jewelry or cell phone cases, the software can be adapted to virtually anything that can be personalized–products like trophies, small engine or car parts, and even toys and statues. And because 3DVIA Make is being targeted to businesses and retailers, the software cost has only minimal upfront costs and can be based on profit sharing or transaction-based fees.
Do you think 3DVIA Make will change the way consumers purchase products online? Are you a business owner that would be interested in software like this? Tell us about it on the 3DVIA Make forum thread over on 3DPB.com.