“Maybe we are too early. But maybe we are exactly at the right point in time with 3D printing. The next years will determine whether we are on the right path.” With these words Rik Theunissen, co-owner of MakerPoint Maastricht, described smoothly how it feels to own a 3D-Printing shop. It expresses the feeling of betting on a future technology and an industry where business models yet have to be defined.

Founders Club had the fabulous possibility to visit Rik at his store in Maastricht and get an insight into an exciting technology and the dynamics to bet on it. But it was also great to get to know a Founder from the region.

Rik is 29 years old and studied Industrial Design and Engineering. He is a passionate Product Designer and found 3D printing to be the perfect technology for him to immediately test his ideas. It enables him to design and build whatever he wants. “I founded this business because I simply don’t want to work for a boss.” Therefore, Rik and his business partner opened the doors of their concept store on the 6th November 2014, less than a year ago.

Most people have heard of 3D printing. Any 3D model can be printed directly on the spot. It is a production process that enables to cut part of the traditional production cycle. Simply going from idea and digital 3D model to printing. While the technology itself is relatively old, falling prices over the past years make have made it affordable to most people. Anybody can start with it. Simply get a 3D printer for around 2000€ and learn how to use the software. Unless you start a business and have large sales, the necessary software is free.

3D printing is also an industry, where entirely new business models are developed. The open-source community and mindset around 3D-printing is huge. It is built on open hardware and open software, which gives a totally different drive to the industry. Businesses need to build models around that thinking. This is why it includes all kinds of business models that are usually adopted from somewhere else: On-demand, Freemium and Crowdfunding etc. People try to be creative in the way they build their businesses.

3D printing is all around the topic of getting the digital 3D file of the object printed. Therefore, 3D scanning has been a huge trend. Take enough photographs of an object and software creates a 3D model for you. Nowadays you can find cheap add-ons for your iPad and scan a statue or object on the spot. This development opens another dimension of infringement of intellectual property right. Suddenly, re-creating public monuments becomes easy, affordable and fast.

Rik’s store, part of the MakerPoint franchise is a concept store that offers hardware and expertise. Under the umbrella of the MakerPoint franchise they sell 3D printers but also offer all kinds of services around. These services range from advice, to helping with 3D modeling and the printing itself. “We sell the freedom to create your ideas. The coolest thing we printed was a father’s finger. His kid loved to play with it, so he wanted a copy of it for his kid.”

For Founders Club this was a great opportunity. Thank you Rik for opening your doors for us. Anybody who missed our meeting and got curious about MakerPoint Maastricht should check out the shop at Boschstraat 75a, close to the market. It is full of curiosities and gives you the feeling to breath the air of a futuristic technology.

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Author – Justus

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