As a 3D printing writer based in South Korea I frequently have the chance to test and review new machines from around East Asia. While most are pretty good, I had the opportunity a while back to test the Cubicon Style from HyVision and absolutely fell in love with it. I was excited to discover others, outside of Korea, who were likewise thrilled with it too. 3Design in New Zealand is one of them This led me one night to a lengthy discussion on Twitter with a gregarious Kiwi named Robert Reid. Robert, as things would have it, is the CEO of 3Design (@info_3design), a New Zealand 3D printing company who had recently started to import the Cubicon. As I learned, 3Design was the first company in NZ to stock, sell, and service 3D printers fulltime. Other general merchandise retailers were selling some machines, but as Robert tells it, once you bought the machine and took it home…you were on your own. Having taken the lead in mainstreaming 3D printing in New Zealand, their path was littered with challenges. Many of the tasks they faced came from the fact that New Zealand’s economy is currently in flux, as the nation transitions from a traditionally agrarian economy, to one based on high technology. This presented some unique problems, so the first thing Robert and his crew did was to focus on building a 3D printing team of experts to assist their customers with whatever challenges they experienced. Robert noted that, “many of the big stores just didn’t realize that 3D printing, with all of its quirks, is about service and knowledge…not numbers.” The team members were all trained in CAD, Solidworks, Magics, and Rino. They also developed and provide 3D training courses for customers of all skills; from beginner to advanced levels. And for customers who need extra help, 3Design offers 3D printing services in-house, on a file-by-file basis and turns customer files into solid objects. Past clients have included architects, engineers, product designers, and fashion designers.
Robert mentioned that in the rare instant when 3Design doesn’t have the ability to complete a particular project in-house, they will find a manufacturer for their customer who can complete it. He said that over time 3Design has developed relationships in a multitude of industries which can be brought to bear for a customer’s benefit to eliminate expensive tooling costs, drastically reducing time spent on product development and production. This means that his NZ clients now have access to industrial grade rapid prototyping services, with quick turnaround, at costs that won’t break their budgets. As Robert tells it, “We have teamed up with some big offshore manufacturers that can manufacture just about anything, from solid plastics to brass, titanium or aluminium.” But he assured me that their primary business remains selling and servicing 3D printers. And in doing that they have experimented with, and tested, machines from all over the world. As a result 3Design has selected, and currently sells, Creatbots, Mankatis, M3Ds, Wanhoas…and now HyVision’s Cubicons! They have chosen these brands based on their ease of use, reliability, and functionality. In addition, Robert noted that every single machine they sell is tested before sale by the 3Design team, just to make sure their customers have no troubles with their new machine once they get it home. They were especially happy with the Cubicons, and have recently sold out all that they had, necessitating them to purchase more. “For small production, nothing yet beats the Cubicons ease of use and reliable results” Robert said, “the trouble is that people who don’t understand all of the common problems most cheap printers have, think that the Cubicon’s price point is too high, but for small production runs, there really isn’t any comparison.” He added that he hoped that as the consumer market matures, customers will look to higher quality machines that may be a little more expensive, but will save them huge amounts of time and stress.
Filament in New Zealand
Lastly, 3Design is also a major filament supplier for all of New Zealand, carrying a wide range of filaments, including specialty products from NinjaFlex and ColorFabb. In addition, they are an authorized dealer for Simplfy3D, arguably the best and easiest to use slicer program available. The 3Design crew is also very proud of their after-care and maintenance programs, which Robert said was an absolute cornerstone to helping new users become regular customers. “Too often someone sells a machine…and that’s the end of it. If the customer develops trouble after that, well, not much to do for them…and that’s just wrong.” One thing that seemed particularly important to Robert was to understand that while his company enjoys great relationships with customers and companies throughout the pacific region, they are, as he called it, “a genuine and legitimate Kiwi company that is here to service the unique needs and wants of New Zealanders.” To get the word out, 3Design is has its own YouTube channel, can be found on Pinterest, Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter…not to mention at shows and exhibitions throughout NZ. If you’re interested in what New Zealanders are up to, or if you’re a Kiwi involved in the maker community and would like some serious advice or assistance with a 3D printing project, check them out.