Early 3D Adopters: Who's Doing 3D Printing?
While the shop is still learning what the 3D printer can do, having the CubeX Duo in the lobby changes how visitors perceive Hudson Printing. "They start asking questions, and they view us in a different light," Gardner notes. (For the winter months, however, the CubeX has been moved into the warmer Indigo pressroom. "The winter air was causing trouble with feeding the plastic filament to the extrusion heads," according to Gardner. "We're working on solving the problem and plan to move it back to the lobby soon.")
Ultimately, Gardner hopes to have in the neighborhood of $500,000 in disruptive print technologies alongside the CubeX in the Print Lab. Other technologies under consideration include a flatbed UV printer and a golfball printer that prints directly on people's fingernails. "These are things you'd never find in your average print or copy shop!" he points out.
While Gardner characterizes Hudson's use of the CubeX as "just playing" (for now), it has started the wheels spinning for where this could lead in the future. "We have one customer talking to us about the first 3D printer they buy," he reveals. "It's an architectural firm. They are looking for a small, low-priced machine to do prototyping. We asked, 'Don't you want bigger build volumes? Higher resolutions?' They responded, 'Why would we when we can just come to you for those things?' It gave us a glimmer into what the path of the future might be."
In this, it's not so unlike a print shop. "Anyone can print something on their own," Gardner concludes. "They have a desktop printer at home or work, but they get involved with a professional printing company when they need wider capabilities, better quality and higher volumes. We don't have to be the only 3D solution for a client. But maybe the best customers will be those who already have 3D printing and need something more robust."