Station F, billed as Paris’s answer to Silicon Valley, is
a 34,000 square meter startup campus in France. With investment
from billionaire Xavier Niel,
Station F was officially opened by France’s President
Emmanuel Macron in June 2017.
There are over 3,000 desks available at the Station F
campus. To support entrepreneurial activity at the former rail
freight depot programs from Facebook, BNP Paribas, Thales and
Niel’s own venture capital firm, Kima Ventures
IO, a product development consultancy service,
has launched the second edition of the FOCUS Startup
Accelerator program. Over the course of several months, a
selected group of hardware startups will have access to the
product development expertise of Usine IO. This year’s focus is
Industry 4.0 and the program will be supported by
digital manufacturing and online 3D printing service
Sculpteo is a partner on
the Usine FOCUS Accelerator Program.
I asked Clément Moreau,
Sculpteo CEO and co-founder, about how 3D printing is
accelerating product development and can be used as a tool for
3D Printing Industry: For a long time, the
majority of start-ups have been focused on software. What are
your thoughts about how access to 3D printing can encourage a
new wave of hardware based start-ups?
Clément Moreau: We see the benefits of the 3D
printing (r)evolution as very similar to what advanced
programming languages brought to computer science over the last
hundreds of crafted programmers [PDF]
were needed to create a tech product in the 70’s or 80’s, a
single MBA student in a dorm can create a successful website or
mobile app today.
3D printing is (at least partially) the same for
mechanical part of a hardware startup, it enables
non-experienced people to start developing their own mockups,
enclosure, and hardware device.
Of course at some point you still need a good mechanical
engineer or designer if you want to be very precise, but a
software engineer, a graphic designer or a MBA-graduate CEO is
able to start and field test its very own design for his
product, before she needs to raise money from business angels.
This is a game changer.
3DPI: Can you give us some specific examples of
start-ups developing better and faster through the use of 3D
Clément Moreau: Many of our customers actually use
3D printing to develop their products. For instance,
Svarmi is a
company which produces drones thanks to additive manufacturing.
They even told us that using this manufacturing technique
helped them save 40% of time in their product development
Also, Gabriel Boutin, an industrial designer, created
Kupol, a startup which creates
3D printed bike helmets. He used this
technology not only for production but also for prototyping. He
explained to us that it has been a true asset, helping him to
develop his product faster, efficiently, and at a lower cost
than with other techniques.
The Kupol bike helmet.
Photo via Sculpteo.
3DPI: What are the kind of start-up projects you
would hope to see more of?
Clément Moreau: We believe start-ups have the
potential to change daily life. Hardware startups are
particularly interesting for this. We think that 3D printing
and associated technologies are key enablers to create more
industrial players of all sizes, small and big.
Consumer IoT, industrial IoT, personalized medical
devices … those are very interesting fields that we hope will
3DPI: Can you tell us more about the factory in
the cloud please?
Clément Moreau: The factory in the cloud is the
concept that anyone can manufacture his own products, using
Cloud-based manufacturing services such as Sculpteo’s online 3D
printing service. When I say “anyone”, startups are of course
included! The access to manufacturing technologies is
simplified, which is a major asset for new businesses.
Usine IO plays its role of accelerator and innovator with
an all-in-one manufacturing service integrated with Sculpteo.
Startups can develop better, and faster. The factory in the
cloud allows startups to overcome the constraints of
manufacturing, such as the fees of the dedicated engineering
departments or the round trips to the offshore factories.
Hardware startups can develop functional products and test
their real-world usage at a much higher pace!
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