While many analysts believe that 3D printers will eventually be within nearly every home, sort of like a microwave is now, we are not quite there yet. Sales of desktop 3D printers are not exactly blowing anyone away. In fact, in 2014 fewer than 250,000 3D printers were sold globally, and while this number is expected to double annually over the next five years, there will still be billions of people around the world who do not have access to such a machine.
This is where services like Sculpteo come into play, meeting demand for those who need items 3D printed but do not have access to a printer that’s capable of producing what they need. Last week I was able to discuss Sculpteo’s service, their plans, and potential competition with none other that the company’s co-founder and CEO, Clément Moreau.
Moreau, who graduated with a Masters of Science in Engineering from Ecole Centrale de Paris in 2001 and worked as a software engineer and R&D manager at Inventel prior to starting up Sculpteo in 2009, is an incredibly driven individual who has his heart set on growing Sculpteo to become the leader within the 3D printing services space.
Where do you envision the 3D printing industry and Sculpteo’s role in it all in the next 5 years? How about 10 years?
Moreau: 3D printing as a manufacturing technology is the next trend, and is the reality that is hiding behind the current hype of consumer grade 3D printing. Giving access for any business to this possibility is really a game changer. We believe that in the near future 3D printing will be an alternative means of creating products. Customers and providers will make a choice between traditional molding, machining or 3D printing based on the advantages of each technology. This will lead to a fantastic new era of the industry where the creation of unique pieces all over the world will be as normal as sending a letter to a customer!
Anything exciting coming from Sculpteo we should watch out for?
Moreau: As 3Dprint.com has previously reported, we have recently received a 5.5 million dollar investment. These funds will be used to establish a manufacturing plant on the West Coast. So, do be on the lookout for that.
What sets Sculpteo apart from other similar services?
Moreau: One of our differentiators is the speed in which we can finish our products while maintaining the highest quality prints that Sculpteo customers have come to expect. In addition, we offer the possibility of printing in 45 different materials with multiple finishes and colors. Finally, the services we provide our customers are unmatched by our competition: Hollowing (A technique in which the core of a print has been hollowed to reduce actual material used, saving on material cost and waste), Batch Control (A service available on Sculpteo.com which consumers can visualize their order before printing, offering greater control over quality and pricing of multi-unit orders), Final Proof (A preview feature that shows an incredibly detailed rendering before production).
What has been the biggest surprise (industry-wise) for you while running Sculpteo?
Moreau: I am always surprised by the creativity of our customers.
Moreau: At Sculpteo, we believe that this is already becoming the case. For example, a recent case study from Sculpteo involving the printing of television remote controls shows that 3D printing was more cost effective than traditional injection molding until 502 pieces produced, which is a mass production quantity.
You can find the study here.
Do you think someone like Amazon could be a formidable competitor in the long run?
Moreau: Today it is a distribution channel, but of course Amazon could be a competitor. Sculpteo differentiates itself with its high quality products and the different services offered.
Any intention of going public? Why or why not?
Moreau: We don’t have any intentions of going public at this time, we just raised 5M€ from VC.
Is there anything else you’d like to add that our readers may find interesting?
Moreau: I think that the effect that 3D Printing has on industry is still underestimated. The fact that Small and Medium Businesses are now able to produce custom made parts as easily as billion dollar industries is really a game changer. It gives a unique opportunity to innovate faster and without limit!
Let’s hear your thoughts on Moreau’s comments. Discuss in the Clément Moreau forum thread on 3DPB.com.