This Philippine Start-up Wants You to Create Almost Anything with 3D Printing
ShapeCloud.ph wants to be a one-stop shop for 3D printing
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
If you ask Erick Chua, founder of 3D printing company ShapeCloud.ph, 3D printing is on the rise across Southeast Asia.
“If we’re talking about the full region, quite a number of companies, start-ups, and even schools have started adopting 3D printing in their workflows and programs. Using 3D printing, which is designed to be a fast moving solution to ‘creating’ almost anything, we can easily turn lead times of small batch production from months into days,” he says.
Chua observed the rise of 3D printing in Southeast Asia on the frontlines, as ShapeCloud.ph is an end-to-end provider. “This means that our primary service is 3D printing, as clients would visit our website, upload their own 3D design, pay online, and wait for their creation to be delivered,” he says, adding that they can also provide 3D design services along with small batch manufacturing and post-processing.
But as with any new industry, Chua has had to spend a lot of his time on market education.
“A lot of times, people know about 3D printing, but don’t necessarily understand that a 3D design file is needed to utilize the technology. Drawings and measurements can be used as basis for a 3D design or 3D model, but it’s an initial requirement that we’ve aimed to help our customers with by offering it as another service on our list,” he says.
Chua has also populated his site with best practices on how founders and business owners can better leverage 3D printing for their company. Perhaps the most important part of this market education is not even technical in nature.
“What we always try to accomplish whenever we’re at events or doing seminars is to establish that getting a 3D design ready for 3D printing is not as daunting as it might seem,” Chua says.
As a point of contrast, most manufacturing companies require companies to purchase a minimum order quantity. With 3D printing, you can produce a single unit, as ShapeCloud.ph recently did with a personal care brand.
“To be able to produce only a single piece of a design for prototyping or testing, however, is another story altogether. We provide that solution at a more affordable rate. We were able to work with the client in assessing their different bottle designs, and end up prototyping these for their R&D and proposals,” Chua says.
What may surprise some founders and entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia is that 3D printing can still help your business, even if you don’t make or sell a hardware product. Most of these are branded items for events.
“An example off the top of my head would be a chain of carwash stations based in the U.S. that had us 3D design and 3D print a number of VIP giveaways that resembled their brand’s logo. We’ve shipped our 3D prints to events companies as well, where trophies, medals, and even materials for guerilla marketing were asked to be made,” Chua says.
As the 3D industry has grown in Southeast Asia, so too has ShapeCloud.ph. Rather than just being an end-to-end provider for 3D printing, the company has now earned accreditation to sell the Ultimaker brand of “prosumer” (one who consumes and produces media) 3D printers.
“It’s a top global brand based in the Netherlands, and we’ve started offering the sale of 3D printer machines to clients that have the capital to buy their own unit and would rather have an in-house 3D printer for their workflow and prototyping needs,” Chua says of the partnership.
The partnership fits with ShapeCloud.ph’s mandate to be a one-stop shop for 3D printing.
“Our goal here was to cover everyone’s needs, so if 3D design talent is needed, or 3D printing services are required, we can help, while if an actual 3D printer is needed, we can provide that as well. We’ve been taking on bigger projects, from known companies or brands, government agencies, and schools. This is allowing us to grow the market as a whole and learn more about the industry as well,” he concludes.