3-d printing is all over the media these days. trin.do, a Munich Startup, jumped on this train. Design your own and unique 3-d printed Smartphone case with trin.do, which promises “your Smartphones the best new home, it could get”. This brought us to some questions, we asked Philipp Kramer, one of the founders of trin.do.
munichFWD: You create iPhone cases with a 3D printer. How did you come up with this idea?
In 2012 3D Printing was everywhere in the news. The first functioning weapon was built and a lot of affordable 3D Printers for just a few hundred Euros were introduced. So after reading a lot about this topic, we came across a big 3D Printing platform with smartphonecases one day and realized, that it doesn’t matter whether you order 10 similar cases or 10 different designs. They always cost the same, since each or them is individually produced. So we thought a little about it and came up with individualized products. Not the individualization that everybody knew so far with pictures printed on something, but actually the possibility of creating unique forms and personalization that you can actually feel.
munichFWD: What is special about your production?
The cases are Made in Germany on machines that are manufactured near Munich. The product is made out of a very fine plastic powder, that gets melted by a laser . It is called Selective Lasersintering. This form of 3D Printing is mainly used for prototypes (e.g. in the automotive industry) and offers the best quality on the market. The special thing about 3D Printing is, that every product can be absolutely unique. Let’s take an example in our firm. When a company orders a few hundred smartphonecases, we can have a different name (e.g. from an employee) on every single case and can offer a huge variety of different smartphonemodels.
munichFWD: iPhone cases have lovers and haters. How strong is the demand for your self-designed cases?
For sure there will always be people, who don’t care for cases and like their smartphone the way it is. But actually most of the smartphone owners want protection for their mobile devices. And nowadays individualization is getting more important in lots of different areas. You can personalize your car, have your name engraved on your IPad and have your picture or text printed on hundreds of different products, like cups, Tshirts and also IPhone cases. We take this individualization to a complete new level. At Trindo customers can actually create new forms that are absolutely unique. It is not only a standard case with a picture printed on it, but actually a new product, that has been made only for you. And all this, not just for an IPhone and the most popular Samsung model, but for a variety of different smartphone models. So we believe that the trend is towards personalization of all kinds of products. And starting with smartphone cases, followed by other items, we think we are just on the right track at the right time.
munichFWD: How do you see the future of the 3D printing? In which areas is the printer going to be important?
We think it has a huge impact on how consumer products are produced. The mass production that is coming from Asia at the moment will, in some areas, change to a local and on-demand production with individual products. This offers Startups like ours lots of new chances. You can have an idea, design and develop it, and have it produced in just a few days. Without the need to talk with mass producers and order 1 product a few thousand times to get an acceptable price, without even knowing yet whether you can actually sell it. This huge financial risk that you have in the mass production, doesn’t exist in 3D Printing. For sure, when you actually want to sell the product, you have to get deeper into the topic, experiment with different producers and find the right quality for you.
When talking about the home 3D printing market, it is hard to say how things will develop. The comparison to normal printers, how they used to be expensive and now everyone has one at home, lacks. Printing something on paper is needed almost every day for school, university, job, occasions and so on. But what would you actually print, when you have a 3D printer at home?
munichFWD: What was the most interesting thing you learnded since you founded your startup?
When we look back at our business model and the first product we had in mind, it is amazing how things have changed in such a short time. Even though we thought back than that our product was almost perfect and that only some minor things will change, after a few months it looked totally different and there was another concept behind it. So we learned not to stick with an old idea too long. In a Startup you learn new things every day and meet a lot of interesting persons, and all that has an influence on your idea and product.
munichFWD: What are your plans for the future and where do you see yourself in 2 years from now?
Next year we want to start with another product line beside the smartphone cases. We don’t know yet, what it will be, but we already have a few ideas. In 2 years from now we plan to be one of the leading companies for personalized 3D printed products in Europe with a wide variety of different materials and items.
munichFWD: And finally: Do you have some advice for other founders?
Do your own research and don’t believe everything from the first person you contact with a problem. Talk to many different people and get their opinion. We have experienced that in the end most of the persons we talked to had no clue what they were talking about or haven’t gotten into the topic as deep as they thought.