3D Software

You’re Using Too Many Software Applications to Run Your 3D Printing Business

Consolidate your applications into one collaboration platform to run your business more efficiently

By Mike Moceri, founder, and CEO, MakerOS

Every year, companies across all industries are relying more and more on multiple software applications to get the job done. On average, companies with under 1,000 employees use 22 custom applications in their business. As you’d expect, using that many software applications is not cheap. In 2018, companies with 501 to 1,000 employees spend about $2.5 million a year on software. Even companies with 50 or fewer employees spend approximately $25K a year.

Now think about how many applications you use and it very well may be more than 22, especially if you’re a 3D printing or fabrication service. Let’s talk about the core applications you use to manage your project workflow and the day-to-day operations at your company. Based on my experience, they should include:

  • A quoting system to price out new projects which could either be a cloud-based solution or a combination of desktop applications. If you’re still primarily relying on spreadsheets, your machine’s slicer, and sticky notes to price projects, oh boy … we should talk. If you intend to scale your business you should find an automated and or semi-automated quoting system.
  • A 3D viewer which you will need to inspect and analyze the CAD data you intend to produce for clients. It’s pretty typical to need to download CAD files and use a combination of modeling software, file “fixing” tools, or even annotation software to communicate screenshots to your team or clients. You may also use an online 3D viewer but that may be lacking what your desktop apps can do. Ideally, your online viewer is one with features that combine many functions of desktop apps such as measuring, annotation, and support for color 3D files. 
  • An internal project management platform to ensure optimal workflow. I’ve seen many companies, unfortunately, try to use a combination of spreadsheets, notes, and enterprise-grade bloatware. There’s generally a huge disconnect between sales, engineering, and production because they may not be using the same system.
  • An online file hosting service to share and access files. The joys of file management will have you juggling desktop storage on multiple local machines, hard drives, or cloud storage systems. Please don’t use an ancient unencrypted file storage/upload system on your business’s website.
  • An inventory, products, and services management system. You may be using a combination of spreadsheets, accounting systems, an ERP platform, or that piece of paper you took notes on but lost last week.
  • An invoicing system to collect payments, provide quotes, and track growth. How many methods of payment do you accept and is it easy for your clients to pay you? You need to consider how those payments are recorded and tracked. You should be able to easily export that data into your accounting system and relate that to a customer and their projects.
  • And of course, there are multiple methods of communication that you’re using with clients and your team. This communication is most likely through your email service and or desktop chat system. How many times have you had to track down what someone said because they mentioned it in an email, on the chat system, or forgot to add you on the chain?

All of those software applications are necessary for you to run your business. They’re also expensive when totaled together, and most, if not all, are not integrated with one another. Your manual quoting system doesn’t talk to your 3D viewer nor your invoicing tool, and because they’re disconnected, it leads to more administrative work and disjointed workflows for you and your team. Does that sound familiar? It’s a pain, and I’ve been there.

I felt that pain, both in my work and in my financial statements, while I was running 3D printing service bureaus a few years ago in Chicago and in Detroit. I searched for an application that combined all of those functions into one application and found that it didn’t exist. And so, just as many of you would do in that situation, I decided to make my own. And what started out as a side project quickly turned into a company. That company is MakerOS.

MakerOS is an all-in-one online platform that combines all of those costly tools with added features that most who’ve started 3D printing or fabrication businesses wish they had from the start. Not only are these tools consolidated, but they’re also connected within the platform so that valuable information is carried along with the project throughout its lifecycle. For example, the information captured during the initial quote can be viewed, annotated, and discussed later on in the project when it’s time to send out the final invoice.

With everything in one place, there’s less administrative work to manage. Less busy work combined with a more integrated workflow leads to quicker development cycles (from weeks to days for most of our clients) and more revenue (up to 10X more revenue within the first year in some cases).

And finally, being conscious of how fast the cost of necessary software applications add up, we made sure to price MakerOS affordably given the various software tools and features that come standard with the product. Your software spend should not hurt your profitability (and if it is, you may be pricing wrong). 

So, is your quoting system connected to your project management tool? After inspecting files in your 3D viewer, can you message those files directly to your engineers? Can your clients log in to a dedicated portal to request another quote, while also collaborating with your team to develop their product?

If your answers to those questions involve at least a half dozen software applications, you’re using too many software applications to run your business. We should talk. 

Reach out to MakerOS and request me specifically, I’m always happy to talk shop. You should also check out the MakerOS collaboration platform as a solution for your company’s software needs and get a live demonstration of how we consolidate many of the necessary tools you need to run your 3D printing business, leading to shorter development cycles and exponentially more revenue.