Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, has gained a lot of attention for its potential to “revolutionize” the manufacturing industry as we know it. Many of those hopes, however, have not come to fruition. The innovations made by R3 Printing are addressing some of the major hurdles of 3D printing by reducing the size of the print head and amount of manual labor needed for successful prints.
We sat down with founder Paul Sieradzki to learn more about how R3 Printing came to be, their target customer, and more-
For those who don’t know, what is the genesis story of r3 printing?
R3 Printing was born out of necessity. During my senior year of college, I was running a 3D printing service out of my dorm room to serve fellow students at Columbia that were having trouble getting time on university printers. Soon enough, we were getting more orders than we could handle from students throughout Manhattan and parts of New Jersey. Even after we scaled up the operation and bought more printers once I graduated, we still didn’t see a path to growing the business efficiently because of the manual labor involved in running a fleet of 3D printers. I realized that the limitation was in the 3D printers themselves – even “industrial” 3D printers were designed as tools for the office, not as building blocks with which you can build a scalable on-demand manufacturing business.
Once it became clear that we’d never be able to scale our business efficiently with the 3D printers available on the market, I decided to start a new chapter and solve the problems that were holding our business back. That’s how R3 Printing came to be.
How do you plan on allocating funds raised in this round to scale the business?
We’re allocating the funds in this round towards R&D, including design optimizations in order to reduce the manufacturing and assembly costs of our products, as well as filing for additional patents in order to protect our innovations during this process. We’ll of course also be allocating funds towards marketing and general company growth.
Who is your target customer?
R3 Printing is a B2B company, and our initial target market consists of on-demand manufacturers, which are businesses that offer 3D printing services as a sole or primary means of revenue. These businesses are eager to lower their overhead labor costs and increase their output capacity, and we designed our products specifically with them in mind. In 2019, on-demand 3D printing services were a $4.9 billion-dollar market – up 20% from 2018.
We eventually plan on expanding our sales coverage to include other business entities such as engineering, architecture, and product design firms, as well as education including universities.
As for how our technology trickles down from on-demand manufacturers, the power of 3D printing is in its agility and customization, so it’s going to add the element of customization to every industry it touches – which is just about all of them, from automotive to aerospace to consumer products.
What I get really excited about is all the ways 3D printing is going to enter our homes and our daily lives. Once there’s a network of sufficiently-automated service providers and we hit that tipping point where 3D printing goes from being a specialty service to a commodity service, we’re going to start seeing custom 3D-printed products in our lives on a daily basis.
For example: custom 3D-printed helmets, insoles, or prosthetics – in all these examples and especially the last one, the consumer is acutely aware of what a price ceiling does to the quality of a product, and the power of additive manufacturing and R3 Printing are here to smash that ceiling.
Think about everything in your life that you wear, touch, or hold and imagine it feeling and performing like something that costs 10 times what you paid. That’s what 3D printing is going to do for you.
Can you speak to your awarded patent and those you have pending?
We’re very proud to have a granted utility patent, and four more pending. For those less familiar with the patent process, utility patents protect how something works as opposed to design patents that protect how something looks. We’ve taken great care to build an IP portfolio that protects all of the core features and mechanisms that make our products the ultimate platform for additive manufacturing and creates a barrier between us and any future competitors.
Obtaining a granted utility patent is a rigorous process and a big milestone – according to the USPTO, only about half of all utility patent applications received are granted. Utility patent applications secure a higher level of protection for intellectual property, and are a major distinction from provisional patent applications used by many startups.
In a rapidly-expanding industry like 3D printing, investing in intellectual property is essential to protecting the valuable R&D that goes into innovations like ours, and increasing the value of the company.
Do you have any competition, if so, how do you differentiate?
While we’re not the first to introduce a 3D printer to the market, we are the first to introduce one that’s designed from the inside out for on-demand manufacturers. Our products are all about removing the barriers to running a scalable 3D printing service, allowing businesses to operate more 3D printers with the same or even fewer staff – cutting the cost of custom 3D-printed products.
My COO Petra Wood came up with a great analogy: the 3D printers on the market right now are like toaster ovens. Some are for the budget-conscious, some are actually quite high-end, but no matter which one you have, it would be hard to run a large-scale bakery with them.
In a world of toaster ovens, R3 Printer is the commercial bakery oven. It checks all the boxes for manufacturing 3D-printed products at scale.
What are the biggest risks associated with your business?
Three things that we’re always keeping in mind are: manufacturing costs of hardware products, intellectual property, and finding the right talent to grow our team.
To that first point, unlike software products where distribution costs are negligible, hardware products need to be manufactured, assembled, and shipped. It’s an effective deterrent for copycats, but it’s also a very real upfront cost. Thankfully, we’ve done lots of engineering to reduce the cost of manufacturing and assembly of our products. For example, we’ve re-engineered our printer’s chassis to save about 25% in manufacturing and assembly costs and it’s lighter too – so those optimizations will save us in shipping costs as well. We’re always looking for ways to improve how our products are made.
Second, we’ve developed a significant portfolio of patents and other intellectual property, which is an important differentiator compared to other startups attempting to enter this industry. We must continue to do so, but it has to be a balance between moving forward and innovating, while also ensuring that we’re protecting all of the valuable intellectual property that came from our hard work.
Finally, a strong team is critical to the overall success of the company. 3D printing is an exploding industry, with endless possibilities for applications. As a startup, the people we recruit and attract now will become leaders in the company as we grow and it’s essential that we hire well.
How is your team uniquely positioned to win out in this market?
When working at Bridgewater Associates, the hedge fund founded by Ray Dalio, I really took in some of the guiding principles that were a part of his success and applied them to R3 Printing. Not least of which is the invaluable advice I learned about building and curating a team – hire not only for skillset but for values, character, and way of thinking. I always keep that in mind when looking to add someone to the team.
Our COO and Head of Growth, Petra Wood, has a unique global perspective, having grown up in Switzerland and lived in five different countries, with a track history in digital marketing and the media industry including tenures at Walt Disney ABC Television and Amnet Group – the programmatic digital marketing subsidiary of Dentsu Aegis Network – there’s nobody better than her for the role.
Sarah Pavis, our engineering and design for manufacture consultant, is a full-stack mechanical engineer with over 10 years of experience. With product experience in both the US and China, Sarah is capable of working end-to-end across the product development pipeline, having developed industrial and consumer hardware products at startups and large companies alike, including at Measure Twice Labs, Littlebits, the Mohawk Group, and John Crane.
We have Matt Miller as our intellectual property attorney. An entrepreneur himself, he is the founding partner of a Manhattan-based boutique law firm. With both his current and past experience working primarily with tech startups, he’s been the perfect partner for helping us create a robust IP portfolio as we’ve grown and continued to innovate.
That is just a few of our team members, and I can honestly say that if a company is only as good as its people, we’re definitely set up for success. I’m very grateful for my team.
What does your business model look like?
We’re positioning ourselves as the leading supplier of additive manufacturing infrastructure by focusing on selling physical hardware – 3D printers and related industrial automation products and services – to our primary target market of on-demand manufacturers.
We also have a public-sector customer base, specifically in the defense industry. We’ve already engaged with the US Air Force, having received a SBIR government grant from them, and we’re targeting other branches of the DoD for additional partnerships and sources of non-dilutive government grant funding.
Looking towards the future, our largest customers will eventually need software-based fleet management and analytics features that go beyond what we would offer as a default suite of functionality. So to fill this demand, we plan on offering those additional software features on a subscription basis.
As you think about the business 5-10 years down the road, what do you see exit opportunities looking like?
All startups adapt to their circumstances, and we’ll take the road that’s best for both our shareholders and the long-term health of R3 Printing – whether it’s an acquisition or an IPO.
We have a great roadmap, with additional revenue-generating products and services in the pipeline that would allow us to have a very strong IPO. On the other hand, if you’re a close follower of the 3D printing industry, you’ll notice that there’s a lot of industry consolidation through acquisitions. It’s a highly competitive tech space, so it makes sense that larger companies acquire startups that have innovated new technology and/or carved out lucrative niches for themselves. For example, our partnership with the Air Force could eventually lead to an acquisition by a defense company. With the strength of our products, our partnerships, and our IP, there’s definitely lots of possibilities. If we do get acquired, we definitely want to be working with a company that shares our mission and seeks to drive it forward.
We at KingsCrowd are excited to see where Paul and his team take the company. R3 Printing is currently raising funds on the StartEngine portal.
About: Olivia strobl
Olivia comes to KingsCrowd with a background in venture capital and technology. She spent time at Glasswing Ventures, an AI-focused venture fund in Boston, before joining the KingsCrowd team. There she helped develop machine learning algorithms for the opportunity qualification of preseed and seed-stage startup companies. Prior to her time at Glasswing, Olivia worked in a lab studying the neural correlates of attention. She holds a degree in Neuroscience from Wellesley College.