GOODBYE POWERPOINT, HELLO 3D PRINTING
Written on the 19 June 2015 by Laura Daquino
3D PRINTING is the new face of pitching and presenting, according to E3 Style's Vanessa Garrard, and the step up doesn't require you breaking the bank.
Garrard has been 3D printing since 2013 from her Chinese warehouse, and while she's still ahead of the curve, she says the practice will "most definitely" hit the mainstream within the next five years.
Garrard debunks the idea that 3D printing is always expensive, adding that the requests of most firms are likely very achievable and can be done locally.
She says the process is often ideal for presentations and pitches, likewise for branding novelties such as corporate gifts.
"Just to put it into perspective, to print a small prototype of my product in 3D costs about $20, but if I got the tooling done in China, it might cost me $8000 and not even be right," says Garrard.
"You can keep tweaking at the low cost and then do the tooling after that, so it minimises the error rate."
The procedure is ideal for E3 Style's small consumer electronics products, such as USB sockets (pictured), that are licensed to global brands including Minions, Batman, Superman and Star Wars.
Essentially, it facilitates her "impulse products" where speed to market is important.
"3D printing ensures the design is right, which is particularly important when dealing with third parties, where every part has to be approved in the process," says Garrard.
"It also speeds up the process by printing in 3D first - with our licensed product, it may have taken up to 18 months to develop before, whereas now we can print in a couple of hours.
"Then we can send it straight off and if the brand approves we are straight into production - a process that used to take six to eight weeks."
Currently, the greatest expense and potential setback are the skills required to operate 3D-compatible computer software.
"It's an education piece at the moment where people who aren't early adopters will struggle to create those 3D files," she says.
"To get to consumer level, someone big has to back it, say if Apple or Windows puts it into their next operating system - then it's mainstream and here to stay."
Garrard thinks this won't be too far off, considering the pace of technology these days, which is now the spine of her business.
"The year ahead for us can be summed up as technology - it's all app and smartphone driven," she says.
"The technology has been there for a while but has only just really hit the mainstream.
"Fitbands, action cameras, drones, tablets - all those things that are a little bit 'smarter' - that's where our brand is heading."
Also hot at the moment for E3 Style is its ExtremeX brand, which has been vying against GoPro on JB HI-FI shelves for the past two years.
The retailer has exclusive rights to the product in Australia, but the range is now being sold in the UK, Canada and New Zealand.
Garrard is also currently finalising a deal with one of America's biggest retailers.
"As we tool and create more unique product, our branded products are becoming a bigger part of the business, with the mass retailers liking them the most," says Garrard.
"Private label is still a big part of the business but our tickets overseas are with our own brands."