For many of us fabrication fanatics, one of the more exciting aspects of the 3D printing industry is that it is bringing manufacturing back to the US. From one-of-a-kind prototypes to mass-produced retail-ready products, the versatility of 3D printed objects is broad, and the potential for their applications, almost limitless. But with so much focus on the latest pioneering efforts in the maker world, it is easy to lose sight of some of the more practical, everyday objects that can be printed, as well as the business potential behind them.
A Simple Application of 3D Printing Technology
SolidSmack recently caught-up with Marcus Ritland of Denali 3D Design in Minneapolis and he explained Diamond BridgeBeads to us—a recent project that he worked on with Rosette Guitar Products. For those of you who are unfamiliar with bridge beads, they are small devices that act as stop-knots (like a figure-eight knot) on the end of your guitar strings so that the strings do not pull through the bridge when they are tightened. While the innovation might not be the next Shapeways headliner, it is a great example of a very useful, affordable and sensible application of 3D printing technology.
Marcus explained to us that his involvement in the project began as a result of the inefficiency that often surfaces when trying to order manufactured products from overseas. For a small US company with big ideas, it can be difficult to initiate and maintain practical business partnerships for outsourced labor and manufacturing. Of course, this is in addition to the obvious complications that often arise with transcontinental communication and shipping. Naturally, 3D-printing a mass-produced product on your own turf eliminates many of these issues, and for the case of Diamond BridgeBeads, it was just the solution.
Using Marcus’s design expertise and applied knowledge of 3D printing technologies, Diamond BridgeBeads are now being manufactured in the US, at the same production-cost that it would have been to have had the same product injection-molded overseas. For both Marcus and the Distributor, the partnership was a win-win, and it ultimately got the product to market much faster than if an alternative manufacturing method had been employed. These sorts of cooperative efforts between local companies are exciting to see in-relation to the 3D printing industry, as it has been many decades since most small businesses have been able to see projects like this one come to fruition locally.
(All images via Rosette Guitar Products)