Jun 14, 2016 | By Benedict

scope for design, a German 3D printing company, is giving online and high street retailers an easy way into 3D printing commerce through its 3D printed sunglasses app and other software solutions. Retailers can either add the software to their website or set up a shop floor design station.

These days, you can find sunglasses in a number of places: opticians, market stalls, and even supermarkets. But just how often do you set your eyes upon a perfect pair—those special shades with just the right style and attitude? For many people, that idyllic eyewear remains elusive, constantly evading the seemingly endless racks of wayfarers, aviators, and John Lennons. That’s why scope for design, a German provider of 3D printing services, has created a special 3D printed sunglasses tool which gives those unlucky shoppers a chance to design their ideal specs. The simple, browser-based app enables users to customize virtually every element of the 3D printed shades, from style, to arm length, to lens color.

Interestingly though, scope for design isn’t really a sunglasses shop (although it has set one up). Despite offering a file-to-product 3D printing service, even for one-off items, scope for design has created its 3D printed sunglasses tool to give ordinary retailers a chance to sell 3D printed products. Owners of shops and webstores, no matter how big or how small, can use scope for design to set up a new 3D printed product system on their shop floor (using a PC or tablet) or website, selling virtually any 3D printed product. scope for design has already created tools for 3D printed sunglasses, 3D printed jewelry, and 3D printed smartphone cases, but can also create tailored solutions for other products. This flexibility could potentially allow many kinds of retailers to jump on the 3D printing bandwagon and reap the rewards of the technology: customization, small production runs, and fewer middlemen.

The integrated scope for design system sounds like a clever one, but is it the best solution for small or medium-sized shops looking for a way into 3D printing? Frankly, there’s no clear answer; the company doesn’t list fixed prices for the implementation of its 3D design tools, and no two businesses are exactly the same, economically or otherwise. We can, however, imagine that such a setup would benefit retailers with no particular 3D design expertise and who aren’t expecting to sell astronomical numbers of 3D printed products. Since scope for design is able to remotely 3D print each product and deliver it either to the partner store or directly to the customer, the shop owner wouldn’t be required to invest in a 3D printer. That, of course, could be a good thing for retailers with limited amounts of spare cash to throw around. Furthermore, the software uses uses an “automated pricing system to calculate production costs and each party's profit margin”, so retailers could easily know whether the system is actually benefitting them.

But what of the case against such a business model? Working with an expert like scope for design certainly eliminates a few negative factors, such as costly 3D printer maintenance and software bug-fixing, but—with this particular setup—the German company would still act as a middleman, taking a cut of every sale. For companies with the resources and know-how to purchase and operate their own 3D printing equipment, an independent system could provide bigger turnover in the long-term. That being said, scope for design does offer a broad range of services catering to various business needs, including bespoke 3D printing software solutions designed for independent use.

In truth, scope for design’s 3D printed sunglasses business model is a bit like having a miniature iMaterialise or Shapeways within your shop: customers buy the product from you, but receive it from a third party, which takes a share of the profits. This could be the future of 3D printing in retail, or it could be a stepping stone to an entirely different future in which all shops have their own 3D printers. Either way, we like the idea of our own customized 3D printed sunglasses, and would love to see more 3D printing design stations on shop floors. Let's see what happens.



Posted in 3D Design



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