Entrepreneurs like Chris Vestal prove that hardware manufacturing companies are now capable of moving at the speed of software. Vestal's company, MotoMinded LLC, went from an idea on a Friday to a stocked online store selling 3D printed dirt bike parts by Monday. It now boasts a catalog with dozens of products for various makes and models and has become a thought leader in its industry.
“I essentially started my company in three days with LulzBot 3D printers,” Vestal said. “They supported my ability to go from a prototype to a finished good, right in my workshop.”
Vestal was confident bringing his product to market quickly because he knew the printers could reliably keep up with demand and scale, citing the 3D printer Cluster at Aleph Objects, Inc. as his proof of concept. Being Open Source Hardware offered additional value when he optimized the printing techniques, settings, and environment for his production space.
MotoMinded's in-house cluster of LulzBot 3D printers facilitates on-demand production of parts as customers order them. This results in lower overhead, leaner supply chain, and real savings versus traditional injection molding and manufacturing techniques.
“I save $15,000 for each die that I do not have to make. And I've made revisions since the original release of my products. I was able to change my design in 30 minutes and immediately print the new version,” Vestal said, referencing their Pillbox product (a splash and dust proof storage container for spare parts).
Their team uses 3D printing for more than initial inventory of any given product. By investing in a cluster of LulzBot 3D printers, they are able to extend the bridge, or period of time, until increased sales volume justifies having an injection mold made.
“Most of the parts are designed from day one so they could be injection molded,” Vestal said. “If a product takes off, I'm ready to make a mold.”
Their customers are satisfied, their company is growing, and the motorcycle industry is taking notice. Vestal has been asked to speak at international motorcycle shows and invited to attend major consumer electronics industry events. In the first year, the Pillbox was runner up for product of the year in Dirt Bike Magazine.
3D printing has greatly improved MotoMinded's time to market, lowered costs, and accelerated innovation. And Vestal's ability to achieve rapid turnaround when serving customers is just the beginning.
Vestal has ideas for other uses that could benefit from his approach. With the flexible nature of his production platform, it may only take another three days before he is disrupting an entirely new industry.
All Photos © MotoMinded LLC.