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The high-touch, high-quality 3D printing service is under threat. With OEMs starting huge services, polymer companies getting into the service game, and giant manufacturing firms looking to be the biggest in the world, small services are doomed. You’re in a market where you have salaries to pay while others will pour in millions to become the “winner takes all” in 3D printing services. Meanwhile, your customers are chomping at the bit to start their own manufacturing businesses with 3D printing.
One path out of the morass is to adopt a low-cost cluster model. Generally speaking, the fact that clusters are less expensive as an up-front investment makes them a very attractive proposition to start. The up-front investment could be a single printer. A few years ago, the opportunity was clear: scale and go up the value chain to serve automotive and aerospace companies. But we can’t all have that same opportunity now. You could follow the same path and become just another service bureau running the same machines. But, what could you do to outcompete? Be bigger?
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