Nov.3, 2014 |By Alec

Who hasn't felt that entrepreneurial sensation when successfully 3D printing a design of your own creation? "Maybe I should start a business and sell these online!" Whatever it is, from a pencil case, a die or a 3D printed animal, there is something about 3D printing objects that really speaks to your business sensibilities. After all – provided you designed it yourself – it is unique, inexpensive and fun. Why wouldn't people be interested?

For many of us, entrepreneurship is just a little too far off to make a reality. After all, there are a lot of other factors that drag us back to the real world: a mortgage, a kid or a student loan. However, why should you throw your dreams away so quickly?

After all, a desktop 3D printer does definitely have all the basic elements you need to become a start-up: you have a product (your own creativity), a means of inexpensive production (printer and filament), a factory floor (your spare room) and a potent marketing and sales department: the internet, where you can find numerous sales platforms for creatives.

Sure, there are plenty of stories of start-up disasters, but there are also plenty of successes. People who have a real idea and the business acumen to get a company through the investing and developing phases.

One inspiring example is Meshcloud, a 3D printing business that sells beautiful and original 3D printed creations through creative sales platform Etsy and Amazon's 3D printing service. Run by Michigan-based Noah Hornberger, Meshcloud sells high-quality and original 3D printed creations like vases, planters and other cool decorative objects.

Not only has Noah been able to develop a successful 3D printing business, he has also kept original design central to his activities. Starting out a few years ago, Noah decided to challenge himself. As he revealed to, he started to develop Meshcloud to answer one main question: 'is it possible to create a 3D printed brand / company that exclusively uses pre-existing product distribution channels? So far, the answer has been a giant yes!'

Noah has been creating, designing and making almost his entire life. He first started out with 3D printing in the long-ago year of 1996 at the age of eleven. 'I have continued with 3D modelling over 18 years, and now use 3D printing to craft toys and decorative items for the home.' And by now, he has even become something of a 3D printing guru.

But it's not something he did out of necessity, He previously working as a designer over at Disney/Pixar and as a college professor. Eventually, however, he couldn't ignore his entrepreneurial itch any longer and hasn't looked back since. 'Now I'm enjoying the bootstrapping of the MeshCloud 3D Print boutique and letting my creativity run wild. What can I make for you today? I just love taking imaginative ideas and bringing them to life with 3D printing technology.'

And throughout all this, progressive design has been central to his endeavour. His focus has always been on classic ideas with interesting ideas, just as his designs reveal. 'progressive design for a new world with interesting twists on classic ideas. I love making fun, surreal, abstract, and modern-inspired items. I design everything myself and encode it with my love and joy. I make designed objects that are inspired by the structures of life itself. Why do we exist? And by what means? And how do we experience ourselves? It's geometric & abstract balanced with a tasteful practical side.'

And his designs have proven to be interesting, as Noah even won the first place in the recent MakerBot and NASA JPL Mars Base Challenge. The challenge was to design and 3D print a habitable home using materials either found on Mars or brought from Earth. Noah's cool beehive-like design was picked as a winner out of 228 submissions. You can find it here on Thingiverse.

The potent combination of 3D printing and the already existing digital sales infrastructure has really formed a platform that allows this focus on design. ''Rather than investing time in developing my own website and social media campaigns, I have simply spent time developing products. I love designing objects and I'm really slow with web stuff so I wanted to leverage the already existing sales infrastructures to handle the money and traffic.'

And sales-wise, this has proven to be very successful. Meshcloud was off to a quick start on Etsy. 'After selling success on Etsy, I was especially curious about the new Amazon 3D Print store. I have sold and shipped items after only 2 weeks of having things listed, making this whole experiment into a promising entrepreneurial situation.'

Noah said that he's impressed with the existing sales infrastructure online, and the web's ability to provide access to niche markets. 'I can create an idea on a whim, print it and list it for sale online. Then only weeks later I am packing and shipping to buyers all over the world. Surly this feels like a revolution.'

As Noah told us, 3D printing has proven to be an excellent artistic and entrepreneurial tool, thanks to its inexpensive nature and free-for-all creative possibilities. 'The biggest benefit of 3D printing I have found is: it supports the random whims and moods of being an artist. Traditional manufacturing and prototyping was so expensive that it prevented me from pursuing my not-so-serious and random ideas.'

And that's the beauty of 3D printing: without much financial investment or prototyping costs, anyone can easily work on their good ideas and develop them into sellable products. Did it seem great, but turned out to be junk? While that might be disaster for traditional manufacturing methods, the inexpensive nature of 3D printing means you haven't just flushed all your savings down the drain; just start developing another original object.

But of course, 3D printing is a hugely potent creative force as well, which is perfect for modern designers like Noah. 'I can create new forms that people have never seen. With this freedom comes a whole pile of choices. What will the object relate to and how will it fit into someone's life? Will it likely end up in an office cubical, a French patio, or a dorm-room window-sill?'

'So far the response has been very positive and I am excited to be developing many new ideas at this time.' So why aren't we all taking our creations to the web? Noah's inspiring example certainly makes it tempting.

Here are some of the beautiful Meshcloud designs.


Posted in 3D Design

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little einsteins wrote at 2/26/2015 7:48:56 PM:

thanx for all of the help we REALLY needed it hopefully you guys have more ideas

Noah Hornberger wrote at 2/1/2015 7:50:41 PM:

"the mighty oak is just a nut that held its ground" Maybe all the artists, poets, and inventors throughout time should have been working their regular jobs instead of making great art. Then our museums could be filled with copy machines and our books with golden status reports. Thankfully, some people value something more than money. No words can describe how happy and successful I am. Your attempt to discredit is really funny to me.

common sense wrote at 11/3/2014 2:24:52 PM:

39 products on etsy, and only 30 sales. I wouldn't call it successful business, just keep your dayjob little longer ;)

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