Nowadays in every industry, digitization is transforming the world of manufacturing by enabling more efficient processes and creating new value for industries, the society and environment. Manufacturing companies today are rapidly moving from mass production to order-based and customized production and the digital revolution is going beyond operations to the entire lifecycle of production assets from Design, Make, Manage, and Service of the products.
Technologies such as 3D printing, laser engraving, and CNC carving are helping manufacturers create designs and prototypes of physical parts during the design phase of the product life-cycle, which hugely shortens time-to-market and avoids wastes. The 3D printing technology has significantly evolved over the past decade and is being commonly used across all industrial sectors today.
While the 3D printing tools are proving to be essential in industrial applications, they are not usually accessible for ordinary consumers. Shenzhen Snapmaker Technologies, a Shenzhen, China-based digital manufacturing company is addressing this issue with its unique products. Since 2016, the company has been on the mission to bring the digital experiences of industrial manufacturing to consumers regardless of their age, profession, etc.
Modular and Multifunctional Machines
A digital manufacturer primarily requires multiple manufacturing tools such as a 3D printing tool, laser engraver, and CNC router—meaning the user has to buy three different machines and needs a big workshop. As a maker itself, Shenzhen Snapmaker Technologies identified the need for a versatile, industrial-quality, and consumer-friendly machine that can be easy-to-use and space-efficient for a home workshop.
Consequently, the company created digital manufacturing tools in a non-traditional way, combining three functions in one machine. The Snapmaker machines can quickly switch between modules to provide one innovative solution for various demands. In 2019, the company introduced Snapmaker 2.0—its crowdfunding campaign raised 7.8 million USD and became the most funded technology project in Kickstarter. Recently, Snapmaker launched the Snapmaker 2.0 Air Purifier and CAN Hub in July and will launch the high power laser module later this year.
Digitalization is an integral part of Snapmaker’s production and operations. For product innovation, Snapmaker can support various tool heads, add-ons, multiple linear modules, and more features using a single controller. The primary reason behind this is that it innovatively adopts the CAN (Controlled Area Network) bus expansion solution which was widely used in car automation. “For the operations, as most of our users are situated overseas, we have been adopting digitalization largely to optimize our exposure and connection with them,” says Daniel Chen (Founder and CEO of Snapmaker).
Face Behind the Curtains
As the Founder and CEO of the company, Daniel is responsible for setting the strategic goals and establishing the company structure. He primarily focuses on making critical decisions in developing the product roadmap and hardware development. Besides this, he also oversees operations, sales and services, supply chains, and the recruitment process.
Daniel, alongside his excellent team, has taken Snapmaker to new heights. Starting with 4 people, the company has grown rapidly to more than 150 staff members within 5 years. According to him, the most notable highlights from the company’s journey were the fulfillment of two successful crowdfunding projects and the success of Snapmaker 2.0.
Response to the Pandemic
3D printing enables on-demand solutions for a wide spectrum of needs ranging from personal protection equipment to medical devices and isolation wards. Thus, the technology addressed the supply and demand imbalance caused by supply chain disruptions and socio-economic changes. As a team dedicated to catering its services to makers around the world, Snapmaker put in efforts to help the 3D printing community and the people working on the front line to fight against the pandemic.
Partnering with Wikifactory, Snapmaker launched the DIY Protective Gear Project and released its open-source beta version of the Snap face shield, EVA mask, goggles, and mask buckle, which could be printed in a couple of minutes or hours to invite people to make better design together. Furthermore, the company donated medical face masks to its distributors and shared resources from the 3D printing community to contribute to the fight against the pandemic.
Heeding the uncertainty of the situation, Snapmaker decided to cancel its plans to attend exhibitions or meet its users and business partners in person. Currently, the company has been taking steps to engage more with them online. Snapmaker’s online community has more than 40k members in the forum and Facebook groups, and over 100k social media followers. By sparking interesting conversations and starting events like Upcycling Snapmaking Contest, the company was able to engage with its users at a deeper level.
Projects to Unfold
The 3D printing industry has tremendous growth potential in the near future. Thus, Daniel adds that Snapmaker’s focus will lean into the 3D printing industry in the near future. For 2021, Snapmaker Academy would be the company’s regular beginner/intermediate series for 3D printing, laser engraving, and CNC carving. It will introduce new content and ideas to every video to assist its users with their making journey.
Additionally, Snapmaker will release more add-ons for the Snapmaker 2.0 this year. The Snapmaker 2.0 has received a lot of positive feedback and has served as a central hub for creation for many users. The company is releasing the Snapmaker 2.0 rotary module, air purifier, high power laser module, and dual extruder module. Partnering with its channel marketing partners, Snapmaker is anticipated to provide more accessible local after-sale services to its users in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, and more countries in the upcoming years.
Finding a Way Out “The world will keep changing, we are changing the world in our own ways as well, no matter how small it is. Snapmaker is a technology company caring about humanity and its wider environment,” says Daniel. He adds that every time we confront a significant change especially a disaster, there will be innovation breakthroughs coming right after. Stressing upon the importance of finding a way out of these changes, Daniel concludes, “It’s what humans do, we defeat and stuck, and then we adapt, rethink, and eventually make our own way out of it.”
Read Full Magazine:- The 10 Compelling 3D Printing Companies, 2021