PostNet Franchise’s Move Into 3D Printing: Why It’s a Big Deal

PostNet franchise is rolling out 3D printing this week; making the technology widely accessible empowers inventors, forges new business ties

When the newest PostNet franchise location opened this week in Minneapolis, it ushered in a new era. Dave Thorsen’s Neighborhood Business Center is the first in the nation to offer 3D printing, which has been hailed as a revolutionary technology by The New York Times, “Wired” magazine, “The Economist,” “Bloomberg Businessweek,” “Popular Science” and many others. President Obama mentioned 3D printing during his 2013 State of the Union address, citing the technology’s potential to create new manufacturing jobs in the United States.

Dave Thorsen poses with the 3D printer at his newly opened PostNet Neighborhood Business Center in Minneapolis. The 3D printer will allow entrepreneurs to create rapid prototypes, and Dave will be offering the service to entrepreneurs nationwide through PostNet's network of franchisees.

Dave Thorsen poses with the 3D printer at his newly opened PostNet Neighborhood Business Center in Minneapolis. The 3D printer will allow entrepreneurs to create rapid prototypes, and Dave will be offering the service to entrepreneurs nationwide through PostNet’s network of franchisees.

 

PostNet is playing its part in the 3D printing revolution by making the technology available to customers nationwide. Dave’s new store will serve as a hub for PostNet Neighborhood Business Centers nationwide, which will now be able to offer 3D printing to their business customers.

Here’s why that’s important:

“Few new technologies receive more intense interest than 3-D printing,” the MIT Sloan Management Review wrote in a 2013 article. “The technology has some predicting that it will revolutionize manufacturing top to bottom, creating new, small-scale manufacturing with little waste.”

But, the magazine notes, “that promise remains emergent.”

One of the reasons 3D printing hasn’t quite broken into the mainstream is that 3D printing has not been widely offered in a retail environment, so the general public has had nowhere to engage with the technology.

PostNet intends to change that.

A 3D printed object with working gears demonstrates the intricately-engineered designs that can be quickly prototyped. (Zorro2212/Wikimedia Commons)

A 3D printed object with working gears demonstrates the intricately-engineered designs that can be quickly prototyped. (Zorro2212/Wikimedia Commons)

Making ideas into prototypes and prototypes into businesses

The traditional prototyping process is slow, cumbersome and expensive. It can take months to create a mold for a new invention, send it overseas for production, then have it shipped back to the inventor. After all that, if it doesn’t look right or work correctly, the inventor has to start over.

3D printing, which is sometimes called additive manufacturing, allows an inventor armed with a 3D CAD file to send instructions to a robotic printer, which precisely layers plastic or other materials, one layer of molecules at a time, until the printed object takes form. Within a few hours, an idea can be made into reality.

Dave Thorsen decided to start a PostNet because he wanted to make it easier for inventors to access 3D printing technology, and he also wanted to help them build businesses out of their inventions. Dave decided to become a PostNet franchisee because of our history of innovation and because of the services we offer — like digital printing, shipping and online marketing tools — that are designed to help small businesses win customers and grow.

He figured that by offering 3D printing in a PostNet Neighborhood Business Center, he could help inventors manufacture their prototypes, then help them market their inventions and nurture them as they evolve their businesses from concept to full-scale production.

“Inventors, once they have their prototypes, will need a host of marketing services to help them get their businesses off the ground and thriving,” Dave says. “3D printing is the beginning of that relationship.”

PostNet franchise: The business behind small business

PostNet offers a full range of business services to help small and medium-sized businesses grow, including digital printing, graphic design, direct mail, websites, email marketing, shipping and now, 3D printing. We have been consistent innovators and have been ranked a top franchise opportunity by “Entrepreneur” magazine for 21 years in a row. We also have won consistent awards from Franchise Business Review for franchisee satisfaction.

To learn more, fill out a form to download our free franchise report and start a conversation. Want to learn more first? Check out our research pages for the answers to many questions about the PostNet franchise opportunity and visit our blog for more franchisee interviews and news. We look forward to talking to you!

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