Interview: Idle Print Looks to Monetize Spare Cycles in 3D Printing
Idle Print is trying to help people find solutions for their 3D printing needs at a fraction of the cost, while also helping people who own 3D printers make some income on the side. Idle Print is an online marketplace that allows sellers with 3D printers to find buyers who need an object printed. The company was created by Kevin Nuest and Blaine Wilson and debuted at Startup Tucson.
We spoke with Idle Print and here’s the transcript of the interview.
On3DPrinting: Hi Blaine, thanks for taking time to answer a few questions. First, what problem are you trying to solve at Idle Print?
Idle Print: The 3D printing market suffers from great inefficiency. Lead times are often measured in days if not weeks, and commercial services aren’t cheap. Meanwhile the rate of innovation and development of open source 3D printers is driving machine prices downward and capability upwards. Our founding assumption is that these two segments are ready to converge.
On3DPrinting: How much money do you think an end user can make?
Idle Print: That will depend on a great many things; supply/demand, additional services, marketing, capability, etc. We hope to enable proficient operators with a capable machines to make a living doing this, though I’m sure we’ll see a range of users from hobbiests to full-time users with a garage full of bots cranking out parts. If you consider the average cost of commercial print jobs, having a single machine generate a day’s salary at minimum wage isn’t unreasonable, and depending on how you calculate it, conservative.
Additionally, we hope for this to be a platform to offer additional services to supplement revenue via 3D modeling, scanning, post processing, etc. We want to enable users to provide a bit more than just printing, though that’s certainly the foundation.
On3DPrinting: Why wouldn’t someone just order a print from Shapeways or i.materialise rather than ordering from a consumers’ 3D printer?
Idle Print: In a word – Efficiency. Shapeways is running a several week backlog on their least expensive material and I’ve never heard of anyone getting anything back from Solid Concepts in less than three days. As someone in manufacturing who needs a model RIGHT NOW, that’s not acceptable. Meanwhile those same companies start their pricing at $1.40 per cubic cm. Last I checked, ABS is ~$.04 per ccm. While that’s not an apples to apples comparison, we believe there’s certainly room for such a service to compete with (if not supplement) existing commercial printers.
Additionally, we hope to help accelerate the shift from 3D printing from the domain of engineering offices and product developers to everyone else. Companies such as Makerbot and Cubify already spearheading the effort, making the service more efficient and available is our contribution to that goal.
On3DPrinting: How does someone get involved in Idle Print?
Idle Print: The best way to stay updated is via facebook at http://www.facebook.com/
Additionally, if you’d like to be notified once the service is up & running, you can sign up here: http://idleprint.co/ (still in early alpha)
On3DPrinting: Thanks Blaine! Good luck with Idle Print.