Collect MakerShop 3D Printer Designs in the Cloud

SpiveyWorks 3D printer designs website MakerShop has just added an awesome new feature to let you save designs directly to DropBox. Now you can collect and organize 3D printer designs in the cloud using any device.

Before you pretty much had to be in front of a computer and download files to your local PC. Now you can use your iPad, iPhone or Android device while you are on the go to collect and organize those designs instead.

MakerShop Save to DropBox Feature

MakerShop Save to DropBox Feature

New Real-Time Collaborative List

This is the dead simplest list web app you have ever used. It can be used from any device, a phone, tablet or PC. I just got finished hooking it up.

This list web app is a real-time collaborative list. That means that as you add items or check an item off then anyone else viewing the list from any device also sees the change immediately. There is no login. Each list is anonymously edited by anyone.

This is great for making todo lists, to bookmark links, to use as a question and answer forum and just everyday life.

It’s mobile and real-time just like your life is! Try it out by visiting this sample list I made.

How to Create a 3D Printer Small Business

I wrote a new blog post on MakerShop yesterday on specific ways you can start a 3D printer small business. I’ll describe one of the best examples, the emerging industry of 3D printed marketing collateral. Go read the blog post over at the MakerShop website for more ideas.

3D Printed Marketing Collateral
Some people are scared that 3D scanning and 3D printing will let people steal designs or “pirate” things. I see this in a different light with a lot of opportunity for businesses to add value though. 3D printed collateral can help businesses generate demand for their products and services.

This is a huge practical opportunity for 3D printer designers to get started today!

For example, there is a local hotel that has a famous chess set that was actually used by Napoleon. Instead of “protecting” the chess set from being 3D scanned and put on the web to be downloaded and 3D printed by anyone, they should do this themselves right now. They should pay a 3D printed marketing collateral company to reproduce the chess set as a downloadable design and then give it away free on their website. Promote the fact that anyone can come to the hotel’s website and then 3D print Napoleon’s chess set. This will generate demand for people to stay at the hotel so they can play on the real set. Just like 2D collateral that would feature the chess set in a brochure with text and a picture, a 3D printable piece of collateral would increase awareness and engage the prospect in a new more powerful way. This also lets the hotel control its asset, because once it has posted the design on their website it is not worth it for anyone else to try and “pirate” it.

3D Printer Site MakerShop Gets User Reviews

I added a new user reviews feature to the 3D printer marketplace MakerShop.co. Now you can download an item, print out and the write a review to let everyone else know what worked well or didn’t and if there are any tricks to getting the design to print correctly.

My hope is all the designs will start getting more user feedback which will act to generate designer improvements or ideas for new twists on an existing design.

Also, there has now been over 15,000 3D printer designs downloaded from MakerShop.

How Do You Generate Business Value to Flow

JD Meier has a new blog post titled Business Value Generation is the New Bottleneck. His piece got me thinking about how all of the new capabilities and re-imagining of IT is opening up new opportunities. When you have the following available, the constraints are really in how you are using these trends to grow your business and add new value.

  • Cloud. Really big computing available at your fingertips.
  • Big Data. Anything, person or activity can be recorded and stepped back through thanks to endless data banks.
  • Mobile. Doing things is no longer tied to a place. A consumer example of this is that movies no longer just at the movie theater or living room. Thanks to tablets and phones, movies are on the subway, in the waiting room and any other place.

To drive more value and increase the velocity of driving more value, JD says that the following has helped him.

  • Proven practices. Having a repository of available options and artifacts of knowledge that can be browsed and retrieved.
  • Shared language. Make sure that people are communicating and hearing the same thing. How do you talk about things so the team understands, instead of each individual pulling an analogy out of their personal history and pushing it to the group?
  • Mental models. Context is kind, because relevancy is king. How do you frame the problem and also how do you frame the potential way you are going to address the problem? Sometimes businesses take the problem as a given and do not do the due diligence of properly framing the problem itself or evaluating different ways of framing the problem. It’s straight to the solution for some. This can be costly though. Also, how do you frame how you will address the problem? Are you going to address it with a Minimal Viable Product (MP) or are you going to address it with a solution that fits this one customer’s every desire exactly? Are you going to frame the solution in terms of patterns and have discussions around WHY certain patterns are being chosen? Or, are you going to spend time discussing how long it is going to take or how hard something might be?

These are definitely important things that when approached diligently and thoughtfully worked through as a team can increase the velocity with which the business can delivery more value. For example, maybe your business has a bottleneck in creating value because instead of framing the problem, experienced staff are taking the problem as given and prescribing a solution right away with a technology they have been using for the past 10 years. Maybe reframing the problem would lead to deeper discussions that will grow the business by offering a new service in the cloud that requires less time to integrate client-systems with.

Paperclip Innovation with 3D Printing

3D Printed Paperclip

3D Printed Paperclip – 123 Priority Paperclips

I recently took a stab at innovating a basic workplace tool, a paperclip, using 3D printing. The new paperclip is called the 123 Priority Paperclip. I took a paperclip design licensed under the Creative Commons agreement and extended the design by adding the number 1, 2 or 3 to the top of the paperclip. The purpose of the new paperclip was to let a person give a stack of papers a priority simply by attaching a numbered paperclip to it.

There’s many things that can be upgraded using the method of taking existing items and extending them. You can try it easily too by using the online 3D design site TinkerCAD and uploading your designs to MakerShop.co.

Not Reinventing the Wheel to Reduce Costs

Sometimes someone within an organization will task the software development team with developing new software features and prescribe a solution that “does not reinvent the wheel”. Many software consultancy companies create software based on the problem-solution paradigm. There is one major customer that has a specific problem, the consultant analyzes the requirements of this customer and formulates a solution.

With the goal of saving costs the consultancy will try to resell this solution to multiple customers, what the consultancy terms “productizing” the application. I believe it is wrong to classify a consultancy’s output as a resalable product like a cog in a machine. The nature of this customer/consultancy relationship is that the next customer will have requirements that are analyzed and the software will need to be changed, which is at odds with profitability because the goal with the second customer initially was to resell an existing solution. To continue to attempt to save on costs the consultancy that is now analyzing the requirements of the second customer will task the software development team with new requirements, prescribing reusable parts of a prior solution and pushing not to reinvent the wheel. What is meant by this is to leverage existing code. However, the second customer’s problem is different than the first customer’s problem, new requirements have been captured the resulting system that needs to solve the second customer’s problem needs to be examined first as a system and not individual swappable parts. After all, what was initially created for the first customer was a solution to a specific problem inside the context of one customer, not a general-purpose reusable framework. Inevitably the second customer has unique demands that end up contradicting the first customer’s and this makes the system grow more complex.

Another way to approach this is if you want to create a product, then analyze different potential customers at the beginning and synthesize a product that addresses those customer pain points. Generate your own frame of looking at the problem (your way of adding value) and spend energy building the framework you will use to build the product, even though the framework has no individual customer yet. A part of a product’s value is how it frames the problem, not just that you can buy a cog. Analyzing customer requirements individually and transmuting these directly into development tasks will not create a product, even though it might result in a solution for a specific customer. A consultancy is not wrong, but terms and business processes that work in product companies might actually be greedy shortcuts in a consultancy that end up misunderstanding and prioritizing future customers solutions.

I’ll give an example to demonstrate how creating a solution for one specific customer is in conflict with creating a resalable product. If you are creating a solution for a specific customer’s problem then you will continuously be trying to keep that one happy satisfied and solving their problems. No two customers are exactly the same. However, if you are building a product then it is acceptable that some potential customers might not be ready to use your product because they are too small or potential customers have outgrown your offering and are ready to move on to other solutions outside of what you offer. In this case, you might lose a customer through no fault of your own and your product is still a success. In a consultancy you have failed if you lose a customer. In a product company you are trying to create customers that are a fit for your product and you are inviting customers to frame their problem so it fits your product solution.

Another example is a consultancy does not want a customer to solve their own problems. Demand for the consultancy increases when the customer has more problems they want solved. This orients the consultancy around expanding to solve more of fewer customer’s problems because the path of least resistance is to sell more solutions to someone who is already paying you. On the other side, a company selling a product can align with insight selling where customers armed with data from websites and research done by themselves have been heavily influenced in knowing what solutions can be used to solve their problems.

Not reinventing the wheel cannot be prescribed because a consultancy wants to reduce costs. Not reinventing the wheel is a constraint on the input and is decided by how the business operates before it gets to the software development team.