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3D printer Path to market

Executive Summary


Highlights and key figures

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The Project

Innovate in 3D printing, design new open source 3D printers, produce and distribute, offer services around the product.  

[from wikipedia] 
3D printing or additive manufacturing (AM) is any of various processes for making a three-dimensional object of almost any shape from a 3D model or other electronic data source primarily through additive processes in which successive layers of material are laid down under computer control. A 3D printer is a type of industrial robot.


SENSORICA affiliates started to work on 3D printing with the purchase of our B9Creator in the summer of 2013. Daniel learned how to assemble and repair this DLP 3D printer and he built his own venture within SENSORICA offering 3D design and printing services, becoming a second Exchange firm (BDan concepts) after Tactus Scientific. 

In February 2014 Serge joined SENSORICA and brought with him the Artro3D prototype. The 3D printer project was born. During the following six months, Serge created a second prototype, the ArtrOrica

In May 2014, Tibi proposed a series of initiatives to reinforce the 3D printer project: the FabMobile and the 3D course. The FabMobile’s main mission is to educate the general population about 3D printing, and later to develop into a mobile 3D printing operation that would generate revenue for SENSORICA. At the same time, these outdoors activities generated some revenue (donation-based model), exposed SENSORICA directly to Montrealers, and helped spread excitement through social media. The 3D course was designed to generate immediate revenue for SENSORICA affiliates by marketing our 3D printing knowledge and know how. The FabMobile bought new customers for the 3D course and new SENSORICA affiliates. Both initiatives are also in synergy with the 3D printing project, because they have potential to generate sales of 3D printers. SENSORICA’s open project structure allows all these ventures to maintain a very high degree of synergy between them and to reinforce the network as a whole. 

At the same time, Tibi also created the Micro3D printer prototype

During the summer, we met Adam at the first FabMobile event in Montreal. He came to visit the SENSORICA lab to explore his opportunities as a 3D printer designer. Adam went to Columbia a few days later and continued to work on his 3D printer design

Serge quit SENSORICA in September 2014. Unfortunately, during his time within our community he didn’t produced good documentation for the Artro3D and the ArtrOrica, despite the fact that good documentation is a requirement if someone uses the community’s resources for free. This problem has been documented in the Sustaining the commons document, which addresses new norms of engagement within the network. 

A few days after Serge’s departure Adam proposed a partnership on his Innovo3d printer.

 Artro3D printer presented at Salon international d'innovation, Quebec city.
Artro3D at Salon International des Innovation
in Quebec city, Canada

ArtrOrica prototype in summer 2014
ArtrOrica prototype in summer 2014

FabMobile activity on Mont Royal, Montreal, Canada
FabMobile activity on Mont Royal, Montreal, CA

SENSORICA's new strategy around 3D printing

The NRP-VAS is a tool that facilitates value capturing of open source technology that is not only developed by our network, but also by other open source communities across the globe. This was the main message we brought at OuiShare in the spring of 2014. These ideas have also been encapsulated in the Open Alliance model or the network of networks.

Since the SENSORICA network lost its ability to commercialize a 3D printer with Serge’s departure, because of a lack of documentation, 
Tibi proposed a new strategy: to capture value from an open source 3D printer made by another community, while rewarding this community through the contribution accounting system for their design and prototyping work, and by creating this value exchange channel, to insure the cooperation of members of this other community who possess the know how around their product.

The plan was to start to order a 3D printer in kits, to assemble it for (or with) the customers, teaching the customer how to repair it and how to use it. We would charge an extra for the added value we provide, of assembling and training. Extra revenue can also be generated by offering repair and tuning services. Daniel is already experimenting with this approach, see his announcement on kijiji.

As we get better at assembling and servicing a 3D printer we can gradually start improving on the model and eventually have a SENSORICA printer to distribute. 

Presentation of the product and example applications

Immediate application

Additive manufacturing's earliest applications have been on the toolroom end of the manufacturing spectrum. For example,rapid prototyping was one of the earliest additive variants, and its mission was to reduce the lead time and cost of developing prototypes of new parts and devices, which was earlier only done with subtractive toolroom methods (typically slowly and expensively). With technological advances in additive manufacturing, however, and the dissemination of those advances into the business world, additive methods are moving ever further into the production end of manufacturing in creative and sometimes unexpected ways. Parts that were formerly the sole province of subtractive methods can now in some cases be made more profitably via additive ones.

Standard applications include design visualisation, prototyping/CAD, metal casting, architecture, education, geospatial, healthcare, and entertainment/retail.

Rapid prototyping

Full color miniature face models produced on a 3D Printer
Printing going on with a 3D printer at Makers Party Bangalore 2013, Bangalore
Main article: rapid prototyping
Industrial 3D printers have existed since the early 1980s and have been used extensively for rapid prototyping and research purposes. These are generally larger machines that use proprietary powdered metals, casting media (e.g. sand), plastics, paper or cartridges, and are used for rapid prototyping by universities and commercial companies.

Rapid manufacturing

Advances in RP technology have introduced materials that are appropriate for final manufacture, which has in turn introduced the possibility of directly manufacturing finished components. One advantage of 3D printing for rapid manufacturing lies in the relatively inexpensive production of small numbers of parts.

Rapid manufacturing is a new method of manufacturing and many of its processes remain unproven. 3D printing is now entering the field of rapid manufacturing and was identified as a "next level" technology by many experts in a 2009 report. One of the most promising processes looks to be the adaptation of selective laser sintering (SLS), or direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) some of the better-established rapid prototyping methods. As of 2006, however, these techniques were still very much in their infancy, with many obstacles to be overcome before RM could be considered a realistic manufacturing method.

Mass customization

Companies have created services where consumers can customise objects using simplified web based customisation software, and order the resulting items as 3D printed unique objects. This now allows consumers to create custom cases for their mobile phones. Nokia has released the 3D designs for its case so that owners can customise their own case and have it 3D printed.

Domestic use

As of 2012, domestic 3D printing had mainly captivated hobbyists and enthusiasts and had not quite gained recognition for practical household applications. A working clock was made and gears were printed for home woodworking machines among other purposes. 3D printing was also used for ornamental objects. Web sites associated with home 3D printing tended to include backscratchers, coat hooks, door knobs etc.

The open source Fab@Home project has developed printers for general use. They have been used in research environments to produce chemical compounds with 3D printing technology, including new ones, initially without immediate application as proof of principle. The printer can print with anything that can be dispensed from a syringe as liquid or paste. The developers of the chemical application envisage that this technology could be used for both industrial and domestic use. Including, for example, enabling users in remote locations to be able to produce their own medicine or household chemicals.

The OpenReflex analogue SLR camera was developed for 3D printing as an open source student project.


3D printing has spread into the world of clothing with fashion designers experimenting with 3D-printed bikinis, shoes, and dresses. In commercial production Nike is using 3D printing to prototype and manufacture the 2012 Vapor Laser Talon football shoe for players of American football, and New Balance is 3D manufacturing custom-fit shoes for athletes.

3D printing has come to the point where companies are printing consumer grade eyewear with on demand custom fit and styling (although they cannot print the lenses). The on demand customization market for glasses is something that has been deemed possible with rapid prototyping.

Education and research

3D printing is the latest technology making inroads into the classroom 3D printing allows students to create prototypes of items without the use of expensive tooling required in subtractive methods. Students design and produce actual models they can hold. The classroom environment allows students to learn and employ new applications for 3D printing.

Students discover the capabilities with 3D printing. Engineering and design principles are explored as well as architectural planning. Students recreate duplicates of museum items such as fossils and historical artefacts for study in the classroom without possibly damaging sensitive collections. Other students interested in graphic designing can construct models with complex working parts. 3D printing gives students a new perspective with topographic maps. Science students can study cross-sections of internal organs of the human body and other biological specimens. And chemistry students can explore 3D models of molecules and the relationship within chemical compounds.

According to a recent paper by Kostakis et al., 3D printing and design can electrify various literacies and creative capacities of children in accordance with the spirit of the interconnected, information-based world.

Future applications for 3D printing might include creating open-source scientific equipment.


In 2005, academic journals had begun to report on the possible artistic applications of 3D printing technology. By 2007 the mass media followed with an article in the Wall Street Journal and Time Magazine, listing a 3D printed design among their 100 most influential designs of the year. During the 2011 London Design Festival, an installation, curated by Murray Moss and focused on 3D Printing, was held in the Victoria and Albert Museum (the V&A). The installation was calledIndustrial Revolution 2.0: How the Material World will Newly Materialize.

Some of the recent developments in 3D printing were revealed at the 3DPrintshow in London, which took place in November 2013 and 2014. The art section had in exposition artworks made with 3D printed plastic and metal. Several artists such as Joshua Harker, Davide Prete, Sophie Kahn, Helena Lukasova, Foteini Setaki showed how 3D printing can modify aesthetic and art processes. One part of the show focused on ways in which 3D printing can advance the medical field. The underlying theme of these advances was that these printers can be used to create parts that are printed with specifications to meet each individual. This makes the process safer and more efficient. One of these advances is the use of 3D printers to produce casts that are created to mimic the bones that they are supporting. These custom-fitted casts are open, which allow the wearer to scratch any itches and also wash the damaged area. Being open also allows for open ventilation. One of the best features is that they can be recycled to create more casts.

The use of 3D scanning technologies allows the replication of real objects without the use of moulding techniques that in many cases can be more expensive, more difficult, or too invasive to be performed, particularly for precious or delicate cultural heritage artefacts where direct contact with the moulding substances could harm the original object's surface.

Critical making refers to the hands on productive activities that link digital technologies to society. It is invented to bridge the gap between creative physical and conceptual exploration. The term was popularized by Matt Ratto, an Assistant Professor and director of the Critical Making lab in the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto. Ratto describes one of the main goals of critical as "to use material forms of engagement with technologies to supplement and extend critical reflection and, in doing so, to reconnect our lived experiences with technologies to social and conceptual critique". The main focus of critical making is open design, which includes, in addition to 3D printing technologies, also other digital software and hardware. People usually reference spectacular design when explaining critical making.

The services provided by SENSORICA through its members

Actual services
  • Assembling of 3D printer kits
  • Courses on 3D modeling and 3D printing
  • Finetuning and repairs. 
Future services
  • ...

Affiliates actively contributing to this project

Active affiliates

Member name Description of role(s)

In the future, replace with graph automatically updated from the role system...

Close collaborators

create spreadsheet

SWOT analysis


Timetable of activities and SMART objectives


Advantages of the product




Market Study

[from wikipedia] 
Several projects and companies are making efforts to develop affordable 3D printers for home desktop use. Much of this work has been driven by and targeted at DIY/enthusiast/early adopter communities, with additional ties to the academic and hacker communities.

RepRap is one of the longest running projects in the desktop category. The RepRap project aims to produce a free and open source hardware (FOSH) 3D printer, whose full specifications are released under the GNU General Public License, and which is capable of replicating itself by printing many of its own (plastic) parts to create more machines. RepRaps have already been shown to be able to print circuit boards and metal parts.

Because of the FOSH aims of RepRap, many related projects have used their design for inspiration, creating an ecosystem of related or derivative 3D printers, most of which are also open source designs. The availability of these open source designs means that variants of 3D printers are easy to invent. The quality and complexity of printer designs, however, as well as the quality of kit or finished products, varies greatly from project to project. This rapid development of open source 3D printers is gaining interest in many spheres as it enables hyper-customization and the use of public domain designs to fabricate open source appropriate technology through conduits such as Thingiverse and Cubify. This technology can also assist initiatives in sustainable development since technologies are easily and economically made from resources available to local communities.

The cost of 3D printers has decreased dramatically since about 2010, with machines that used to cost $20,000 now costing less than $1,000. For instance, as of 2013, several companies and individuals are selling parts to build various RepRap designs, with prices starting at about €400 / US$500. The open source Fab@Home project has developed printers for general use with anything that can be squirted through a nozzle, from chocolate to silicone sealant and chemical reactants. Printers following the project's designs have been available from suppliers in kits or in pre-assembled form since 2012 at prices in the US$2000 range. The Kickstarter funded Peachy Printer is designed to cost $100 and several other new 3D printers are aimed at the small, inexpensive market including the mUVe3D and LumifoldRapide 3D has designed a professional grade crowdsourced 3D-printer costing $1499 which has no fumes nor constant rattle during use. The 3Doodler, "3D printing pen", raised $2.3 million on Kickstarter with the pens selling at $99, though the 3D Doodler has been criticised for being more of a crafting pen than a 3D printer.

As the costs of 3D printers have come down they are becoming more appealing financially to use for self-manufacturing of personal products. In addition, 3D printing products at home may reduce the environmental impacts of manufacturing by reducing material use and distribution impacts.

In addition, several RecycleBots such as the commercialised Filastrucer have been designed and fabricated to convert waste plastic, such as shampoo containers and milk jugs, into inexpensive RepRap filament. There is some evidence that using this approach of distributed recycling is better for the environment.

The development and hyper-customization of the RepRap-based 3D printers has produced a new category of printers suitable for small business and consumer use. Manufacturers such as SolidoodleRoBo, and RepRapPro have introduced models and kits priced at less than $1,000, thousands less than they were in September 2012. Depending on the application, the print resolution and speed of manufacturing lies somewhere between a personal printer and an industrial printer. A list of printers with pricing and other information is maintained. Most recently delta robots, like the TripodMaker, have been utilised for 3D printing to increase fabrication speed further. For delta 3D printers, due to its geometry and differentiation movements, the accuracy of the print depends on the position of the printer head.

Some companies are also offering software for 3D printing, as a support for hardware manufactured by other companies.

Industry Analysis


Key success factors


Factors affecting demand


Trends and market developments

The 2014 Gartner Hype Cycle Special Report made some evaluations of market promotion and perception of values for 3D printing industry including megatrends affecting Hype Cycles and profiles. If this industry is clearly booming (see 500 America's fastest growing business), from Gartner analyst perspective, there's also an overestimation about the cataclysmic disruption that this technology is going to generate all over world. "Futuristic visions encompass everything from custom 3D-printed cars to human organs available on demand for transplants" is not going to happen anytime soon if we look at companies uses of additive manufacturing (AM) as a complement of established methods. In fact what they expect is 

Hype Cycle for 3D Printing, 2014 copy

The thing with this analysis is that it figure expectation using a traditional economic paradigm and that’s what we believe can be a game changer for the next few year. If we believe Jeremy Rivkin projection we now enter a new type of economy based on networking many claims figuring this analysis could be criticised for instance intellectual property protection. Who know if the open hardware phenomena that are happening right know will not render obsolete the use of patent in the innovation cycle. Based on that assumption the recent report on US competitiveness leave us with a prospective on collaborative commons economy that will probably push up the logistic, transport and energetic advantage of manufacturing local hub networked and organised in a more effective and decentralised way as the more effective strategy for US the keep the pace of fast developing country like China and India.    

Market analysis

First market segment

Who are the clients?

For the Innovo DUO: engineers, industrial designers, product designers, architects, fashion designers, film/set/prop designers, artists/artisans, jewellery makers, mould makers, stamp makers. The printer can also serve in educational institutions like technical colleges and universities.

Buying behavior


How many are they?


What is the value of the potential market?


Sales potential for this market


Details on first customers/testers


Other potential clients



Analysis of the competition

Characteristics of the direct competition

  Competitor 1 Competitor 2 Competitor 3 Competitor 4
quality of products  

quality of services  

product line  




marketing tactics  

main strength 

main weakness   

Conclusion - Impact on SENSORICA


Outreach/marketing plan

Budget for sales and marketing