3D priters were once too expensive for small firms to afford. But in recent years their cost has dropped rapidly, making them a viable option for companies like Tech-Designs, which creates models for jewlery makers all across the country using the seven 3D printers in its Manhattan office.
The company, featured today in a Q&A with Crain’s NY, has just three employees and claims $400,000 in annual revenue. It has been using 3D printers since it was founded in 2004.
Founder Carlos Zamora says he has spent around $500,000 on the printers, but that the machines more than pay for themselves. He told Crain’s NY,
Before, such models were all handmade, and depending on the model, we might make an average of one a day. If I make a model in a day, and my customer picks it up and realizes this is not what he was looking for, if the changes are dramatic, I have to start over.
If I design using a computer, it is a lot easier. You just change a few steps, and the model is fixed. I can produce a lot more models, and the machines can run overnight, so at end of the day, I finish the model on the computer, and the next day the machines are pretty much done.
If it were not for those printers, I would need more people, maybe 10 employees carving waxes, and maybe even more. So this has saved me 10 full-time salaries. I am producing five times faster, which means I can be more competitive.
There are a lot of jewelry companies outsourcing to China now, and I could not compete with those prices and the labor. If it were not for this, I don’t think I’d be in business. It means I can be price-competitive and keep the work here in the United States.
Wait till politicians get wind of the idea that these machines are saving America jobs. A 3D printer in every home!
bpopper [at] observer.com