Tag Archives: e-commerce

Interview with Protocow Founder On Finding the Next Shapeways 3D Printing Service

Protocow Wants to Help Smaller 3D Printing Services with New Software

Earlier this week, Protocow launched an e-commerce platform that enables 3D printing services to offer online quotes and order fulfillment.

This allows smaller 3D printing services to automatically process their online orders and compete on service with the larger companies such as Shapeways, Materialise and Sculpteo. Protocow offers this service for a low monthly fee and per-order commission.

Protocow logo

“Last year, $800 million was spent on objects that were 3D printed on a professional printer,” explained Protocow. “This market is growing 25% per year and 80% of this market is being produced by smaller 3D printing companies, including 500 such companies located in Europe. A lot of these companies handle their orders via email which is quite labor-intensive. Furthermore, it is discouraging for website visitors to order via personal contact such as email.”

Protocow’s solution is a plugin called the STL Harvester that can process 3D models and provide online pricing within 30 minutes. Watch the video below to see how the company describes its service.

Protocow is based in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, and was founded by Harold van der Hoeven, John Tillema, Dimer Schaefer and Raymond Muilwijk. They have deployed the platform in The Netherlands and Belgium and are looking for funding to expand.

Interview with Protocow Founder

We sat down with Protocow co-founder Harold van der Hoeven to learn more about his business.

Protocow team

On 3D Printing: Tell us about your inspiration for the STL Harvester.

Protocow: The inspiration for developing the Harvester had its origin with two of our team members, John Tillema and Dimer Schaefer. They are industrial designers by profession. On a regular basis they were facing the fact that Materialise and Shapeways could not fulfill their service- , budget- or delivery needs. And although smaller 3D print service are more flexible, they do not offer online quoting and ordering. Asking them why, they answered it is to expensive and complex to develop this software for themselves. So we decided to do that for them.

On 3D Printing: When did you start the company and what are the key milestones you have hit?

Protocow: We started the company almost a year ago (December 2012). We have worked on this beside our regular business in evenings and weekends and we love our wives for all the support we received.

We have hit a few milestones. First we did test the concept with several 3D print services. They helped us with several insights which we used to improve our formula, the contact options with options during the ordering process and the additional techniques we did not yet cover. We are proud that importers of 3D print machines embraced our online platform because it is good for the revenue of their customers (and therefor for them).  We also found out that it is possible to calculate a fair price for a 3D print using different (more) variables then the larger companies who already have online quotation and ordering.

On 3D Printing: Who are your customers? Your video says “3D printing services”. Can you give us some examples or help provide some size estimates of the total number of companies that could benefit from your product?

Protocow: Our customers are professional 3D print services. We calculated that there are approximately 500 professional 3D print services in Europe who do not offer online quotation and ordering tot their website visitors.


Learn more at www.protocow.com.

Amazon.com Launches Extensive 3D Printing Category

Amazon 3D Printing Category

Amazon Gets Into 3D Printing

E-commerce behemoth Amazon.com has thrown its weight in support at 3D printing.

Over the last week they have begun to roll out a 3D printing category, listing 3D printers, parts, supplies and software.

3D printers include:

It’s exciting to see Amazon getting behind 3D printing!

3D Printed Phone Cases: UCreate3D Seeks Crowdfunding to Best Nokia

UCreate3D iPhone 4s Case 3D Printing

3D Printed Phone Cases: UCreate3D Takes On Nokia?

Two Dutch entrepreneurs who call themselves “pleasantly insane, incredibly ambitious” are crowdfunding to build a multilingual global platform they call UCreate3D to offer 3D Printed customizable phone cases.

Koen is running the offices in Hong Kong and is responsible for production. Vincent moved to San Francisco to focus on sales and e-commerce! It all started when Koen couldn’t find a nice case for his HTC Sensation. Only one year later they launched this IndieGoGo campaign!

We got a chance to interview these two Dutch 3D printing enthusiasts. Here’s a transcript of our interview.

On 3D Printing: It seems like your inspiration to use 3D printing is about personalization. Can you elaborate?

It is about availability and personalization. How cool is it that you can give your two year old Galaxy SII with a customized case to your parents when you are buying an SIV? Instead of buying a one-fits-all sleeve you can create something they like, they can relate to and make it a personal gift instead of just a phone. And the cool thing is, if they don’t like the design you’ve made, they can create a new switchable panel!

On 3D Printing: Nokia announced a 3D Printing Kit for its Lumia series phone. How are you going beyond what they’re doing?

We’re really happy that a big brand like Nokia understands the importance of 3D Printing and starts experimenting early. What Nokia is doing is for 3D Printing experts, engineers or developers, in other words people who know what they are doing. Designing a case and getting a perfect fit isn’t easy, even for educated industrial designers. It takes a couple of test runs to get a good case. 99.9% of the (mass) market is not interested in doing this. We want to make it simple! People can design their own case or choose one of the pre-selected designs, choose one of the seven colors we’re offering and can expect a perfect case with high quality on their doorstep a couple of days later. This isn’t only for Nokia users, but all smartphone and tablet owners!

3D Printed Phone Cases Indiegogo

On 3D Printing: Who created the design software? What was that experience like?

We´re working with an amazing team of software developers. One of the reasons we are doing crowdfunding is the webshop. We’ve are investing a large part of the $20,000, we’re raising, in the webshop. Vincent has over 7 years experience with E-Commerce and start ups and developed more than 20 webshops in multiple languages. The plan that we have for our webshop is ambitious, but realistic. Realistic if you work with the right people. Our webshop will be very simple, easy to use and our customer service will be amazing. This is the combination for a successful E-Commerce company.

On 3D Printing: Where will you 3D print the actual cases? Will you use an existing 3D printing service or your own production?

Co-Founder Koen Munneke runs our office in Hong Kong and is responsible for production. If you want to be better, you have to think outside of the box. Koen is a 3D Printing expert and knows everyone in the field in Asia. Vincent´s expertise lies in consumer products, so we have combined the best of two worlds. The 3D Printing technique (this needs a verb, not sure what you want to say here) with painting and coating from different markets. Our coating originates from the automobile industry. We’re working with several 3D Printing, paint and coating experts to get the best quality for our products. The 3D Printer that we’re using costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, so we partnered with a manufacturer.

On 3D Printing: How do you plan to market your service?

IndieGoGo is the start. We have been featured on several blogs and websites, so we’re off to a good start. Our first market will be the US & Canada and China. We want to make 3D printing simple and available to everyone. So don’t be surprised to find our services in Korean, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese and Russian in the coming years!


Want to fund their campaign? Go to Indiegogo and contribute!