New Business Models in Manufacturing Technology Part 5 of 5
With the emergence of many new business models in the manufacturing technology (MT) ecosystem, AMT spoke to several member companies to learn about their paths to success. We learned that each of these innovators identified a need in the market that was not being met by existing solutions and turned this into a business opportunity. Another recurring theme was that the company founders or senior executives had broad sets of skills that combined proven business experience with technical know-how in order to develop a successful market strategy.
Tangible Solutions, a contract manufacturer of 3D-printed titanium implants, was founded in 2013 in Dayton, Ohio by Charlie Fox and Chris Collins, COO. Shortly after founding, Adam Clark joined the company as a managing partner and currently serves as CEO. The company converted from a limited liability company to a corporation in 2016.
Initially, the company offered a broad range of additive manufacturing (AM) offerings, design services, and training seminars for a variety of industries. In 2016, Clark and Collins made a strategic decision to focus solely on becoming a contract manufacturer of 3D-printed titanium orthopedic implants. From that point onward, they sold off equipment and turned down work that did not contribute to their core focus. The company has expanded twice and now operates a 25,000-square-foot production facility.
Tangible Solutions has faced some challenges along the way. As an early example, after purchasing and installing metal-AM machines several years ago, they learned that an $80,000 HVAC system was a requirement, not an option. Without temperature and humidity control, the equipment could not appropriately validate.
Reflecting on the challenges of growing the company, Clark said, “In the early days, going from plastics to metals and prototyping to contract manufacturing was a challenge, yet we succeeded. Now that we are established as a contract manufacturer in our field, it's game on. We have a high level of focus on our niche and have become experts in everything our customers must go through to achieve product clearance from the FDA, and that's a differentiator.”
“For those starting without metal-AM experience, I recommend an 18-month timeline from ordering the first machine to reliably producing quality parts. Being a heavy user, we have had a lot of obstacles, even perplexing the OEMs of 3D printers, and we have had to figure out a lot of things ourselves. There is so much to master, I strongly recommend focusing on one industry, one application, one metal-AM platform, and one material," Clark said.
Today, Tangible Solutions is formally registered with the FDA as a nationally recognized contract manufacturer of class (I), (II), and (III) 3D-printed titanium implants. The company has ISO 13485:2016 and ISO 9001:2016 accreditation.
The Bottom Line
There are many new business models emerging in the MT ecosystem. Company founders and executives come from a wide variety of backgrounds and not necessarily from the manufacturing ecosystem. What they have in common is the ability to see a need in the market that is not being met by existing solutions and turning this into a business opportunity.
For more on the New Business Models series:
Read part one here. Velo3D – The industry’s first “SupportFree” manufacturing solution for 3D metal printing, enabling unlimited design innovation by reducing the need for support structures.
Read part two here. 3DEO – Intelligent Layering® technology for serial production, which competes successfully with traditional technologies like metal injection molding and CNC machining in terms of part pricing, material properties, and quantities.
Read part three here. Xometry – Manufacturing as a Service (MaaS) to improve the sourcing process and enable cost-effective and efficient sourcing of high-quality custom parts.
Read part four here. Protolabs – Manufacturer of low-volume, custom, on-demand production parts and prototypes enabled through proprietary software and advanced manufacturing processes that automate much of the expensive skilled labor conventionally required in quoting, production engineering, and manufacturing.
Read AMT’s full white paper on new business models here.