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3D printing a business opportunity

Jun 6th, 2013 | By | Category: Editor's Picks, Features, Front Page Layout, News


By Anneka Paul, Rosaline Hagai, Zakary Gerraty and Yong Choo Lee

WELLINGTON’s INTEREST and accessibility of 3D printing is growing, with several facilities making access to the technology affordable.

Despite issues being raised in the media about being able to print 3D guns, New Zealand designers aren’t holding back from the technology.

Users can find or create a computer generated model online and print those using a 3D printer with melted plastic.

The printers themselves vary from a low end cost of around $1000 to the higher end cost of around $200,000 which uses titanium materials for the larger models.

3D printers are far away from reaching households but having access to these printers in workshops mean users can print models at a fraction of the cost to buy one.

The growth of 3D printing for Wellington Makerspace on Vivian Street allows visitors who are interested in design to visit the workspace and use the technology for a small price.

New Zealanders are gaining more interest with 3D technology and are having 3D models made and sold online as a hobby.

Some of the items made by 3D printers include novelty items like the popular Yoda head, student designed models and replacement parts for broken household items.

Kiwi sells his 3D printed trains all over the world

By Rosaline Hagai

KIWI Peter Bryant’s 3D printed New Zealand model trains are popular all over the world.

“The train thing is quite a lucrative market … and the customers from all over the world” says Mr Bryant.

He uses online site Shapeways, to get his designs printed.

Shapeways has an online shop where customers can buy or request a 3D-created product and designers can sell their 3D creations.

Mr Bryant says that he has become more efficient at the process.

“It’s now time to create as many models as I can and hope … to create some money or revenue stream so that I can entertain other ideas that I have.”

He has made about 100 designs and has sold 90 of them. He says his venture has become more of a “hobby business”.

“The customers who have been buying my models have been from mainly the larger countries, a lot from Europe, the United States, Russia even, Australia and Great Britain

“New Zealand makes up 30% of his market.”

Mr Bryant says his father, a railway man, inspired his hobby.

“Being able to replicate a train model that [my father] could not purchase anywhere in the world was just perfect; being able to print it and get all the dimensions exact.

“I’ve gone from there really. People send me plans and I can also source them from old magazines, scale them to the right dimensions and use a ruler to slowly build the model.”

Mr Bryant says model trains are a growing industry.

“It’s definitely going to be a big thing.”

Image(s): Peter Bryant

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2 comments
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  1. […] I do see a couple issues. People can print objects like vinyl records, guns and any other protected or copywrite material. There will be a lot of lawyering going on soon. Thats not stopping people for giving it a go. Check out some kiwis exporting 3D material here […]

  2. It’s just a shame the stuff on shapeways seems to be so expensive. 3D printing isn’t going to become a threat to traditional forms of manufacturing and distribution if its products are the same price. It seems as though it will just fill a small niche making things only a few people might want.

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