If you’ve read this blog for anytime, you’ll know I’m big on wow-ing customers. I think it’s important not only in procuring – but also in retaining customers.
There’s a lot of competition out there; you’ve always got to have a leg up on the competion. Well, I think I may have found the greatest “leg up” of them all.
My current big hammer is SketchUp and it’s rendering engine Kerykethea. Together, I’ve mastered them enough to be able to create a photo-realistic rendering of a piece. It’s a great tool for presenting a potential client with a project idea. You “build it” in the virtual world – without actually building it. Change woods, add things, delete them – all without creating dust. That’s a great selling tool for me, because I don’t believe a lot of woodworkers do that.
Well, being on the lookout for an even better tool to wow clients with, it struck me, once I saw an ad for this product – a 3D printer, in this case by Cubify.
Was IS a 3D printer? Well, it “prints” out plastic replicas of whatever you design in their software, with exacting detail, in color, and with the ability to print very complex shapes, even moving parts. It’s crazy what these things can do.
So how to use this to wow a client? Well, how about instead of just sending them photo realistic renderings of a piece – actually sending them the piece?! Just in miniature. Something a customer could actually hold in their hand and evaluate. I think you could say you are the only woodworker – anywhere – doing that.
If that won’t wow a client, I don’t know what will! Back in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, salesman would actually take miniature samples of the their wooden products to potential clients – including miniature pianos. Obviously, taking furniture place to place back then was not easy; miniatures were.
And not only would it be a great sales tool, but a great shop tool as well. Since this model can print up to about 10″ square, imagine all of the things you could print out – parts for jigs, for example, or I’m sure, many other things that have to be custom. It’s essentially micro-manufacturing.
This model runs about $2500 – about as much as a cheaper CNC machine. Now granted, CNC machines make real items with real wood – the 3D printer is plastic (or metal like polymers in higher end machines), so you can’t print out a chest-on-chest – yet. But what a unique, useful tool – not just for the shop, but selling as well.