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Startups use SLS 3D printers to enter the market

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Trends of the global startups market show that the era of virtual ventures is in the downturn. Now it is time for advanced manufacturing. With that in mind, business owners are looking for reliable and inexpensive tools for prototyping.

We are living in the global startup revolution era. According to the Startup Genome Report, venture capital investments in startups hit $140 billion invested in 2017. It was the decade high. As this sector is growing about 25% every two years, we can observe some crucial shifts inside it. Companies that were on the rise at the beginning of the startup era, focused mainly on digital media, social media apps, and other strictly internet based companies are declining. Now it is time for blockchain, advanced manufacturing, and artificial intelligence.

Advanced manufacturing is the future

Why is that? Internet-based companies used to be the first choice for the new business owners because of being inexpensive. At least at the beginning. It was easier to buy a domain, learn WordPress a little bit and create a value proposition to potential customers. US Small Business Administration reports that most microbusinesses cost around $3,000.

Locky sketch

That is why it was a boom for companies offering services instead of real products. When it comes to the production, the steep road ahead effectively deterred future entrepreneurs.

– There are a lot of factors to take into account when you are hitting the market with the real product – says Konrad Glowacki, one of the Co-Founders of Sinterit. – Costs effectiveness is crucial. When we established Sinterit in 2014, it was a startup too. Time and money are two agents you need to control wisely – he adds.

Prototyping is one of the areas that are causing the most problems. You needed to order a lot of elements to keep it cheap. But for startup owners, it could be way too risky.

Prototyping – the problem solved

For years, the only way to make useful prototype was to order samples made by CNC machines. It took a lot of time (1-2 weeks per part), was costly and needed a lot of knowledge in designing pieces. Another possibility was injection molding, but way more expensive and consuming a lot of time, from 2 to 8 weeks. In this environment starting an internet-based business seemed to be less problematic.

Three factors that changed the startup environment

Everything changed when 3D printers became popular. Those machines lowered not only the prototyping costs but also shortened the time needed to produce the final element.

With a lot of possible options, startup owners were looking for the most available ones, like basic 3D printers. For simple, uncomplicated and undemanding products it seemed to be a perfect solution. But for more sophisticated ones, with a lot of little parts that need to be both precise and durable, the limitations of the most popular machines become more visible. Low accuracy and demanding post-processing frighten some start-uppers. There is always an option of sending production files to service providers. But new business owners who are devoutly concerned with the security and copyright protection issues are not likely to do so.

Desktop SLS

A lot of those concerns ended with the development of the desktop SLS 3D printing branch. With companies like Sinterit, the producer of Sinterit Lisa and Lisa PRO, prototyping process becomes available for almost everyone. Three most common barriers holding potential business owners from entering the SLS world become the history.

With the price even 20 times lower than the industrial machines, desktop SLS 3D printers started to appear in the design offices more often.

That also dealt with the second stopper, which was the space needed to place the printer in house. Now you can put it on the desk, literally next to your laptop.

And the third one, the ease of use was a game changer. As the industrial 3D printers need a trained operator, desktop machines are so easy to operate, with integrated software included in its price. You need a little knowledge to start printing. Not to mention that after the process ends, you just need to get rid of the remaining powder and that’s it. Without shipping costs and waiting time you can print parts without any supports even with movable parts of very high precision.

Startups choose SLS 3D printers

History shows that even the most prominent companies like Microsoft or Apple were settled in the garage. When you have your genuinely original idea, you don’t need a production plant to test it. The day to scale your business will come sooner or later.

Locky

Owning an affordable SLS printer is the first step to develop functional prototypes, arrange some test or even prepare for a crowdfunding campaign. It is easier to get funding for a real product rather than use the most beautiful render. For Sebastian Religa, CTO in LOCKY, the world’s first smart key overlay producer, it was crucial.

– We decided to use Sinterit Lisa to make a functional prototype for LOCKY. We needed a reliable tool to produce the first examples of our device that will have the characteristics of the final product – says Sebastian Religa. Using desktop SLS 3D printer we got the best precision of every detail, fast production time and the most cost-effective solution – he adds.

It took about 18 hours to print four sets of LOCKY, ready to put the key inside and test all of the functions. Sinterit Lisa can print even 16 complete sets in one go.

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