3D printing has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything
Last weekend I participated in Startup Weekend, a business competition where you get 54hrs to create a business from nothing. Attendees pitch ideas on Friday night, the group votes on the 10 best ideas and then teams form around those selected ideas. The ideas cannot have been worked on previously. I pitched a half-baked idea I’ve been sitting on to help companies reduce their spare part inventory balances by manufacturing parts on-demand using 3D printers throughout the world.
An amazing team came together with all the right parts: a kickass developer, an innovative designer, 3 tech strong business developers and 1 mechanical engineer with experience using 3D printers. We spent the weekend learning about the market, validating our assumptions and building a minimum viable product. As we learned about the space and spoke with people in the industry, we shifted our business model and approach a couple times. We ended up coming up with what I, and the rest of the team, see as a truly revolutionary idea. It has gotten me super excited. Here’s the basic pitch.
One of the largest problems corporations face today are high balances of inventory. This inventory ties up cash, costs money to maintain and may one day become obsolete. Companies keep inventory because it’s currently cheaper to manufacturer products in bulk and then ship it from a central location when it’s needed. 3D printing technology is going to change that, making it cheaper and easier to manufacture products exactly where, and when, they are needed. 3D printers do not require significant labor, so manufacturing facilities closest to the customer in developed countries will be competitive with overseas factories. In some cases, this is already true for high-margin, low volume products such as medical devices and aerospace parts.
Parts Press is an API that integrates with existing ordering systems and allows companies to print parts on-demand instead of drawing product from inventory. The API will route the order to one of our 3rd party printing partners based on their price, capabilities and how close they are to the end customer. The printing partner will print, pack and ship the product on behalf of the company within a given timeframe. The potential of this technology to revolutionize the supply chain cannot be understated. Reducing inventory balances in-and-of itself will free up trillions of dollars of cash for active investment, reduce lead times for manufacturing, decrease shipping costs and eliminate the vast majority of material waste.
If you know of, or are, a 3D printing company or a manufacturer that currently keeps inventory of spare parts, we’d love to talk to you. Send an email to joel at partspress dot com.
Oh, and check out this video we recorded with Paul at 23rd Studios: