Slant 3D was a company that was started to make manufacturing more accessible. By using fleets of 3D Printers rather than monolithic injection molding machines we have been able to eliminate the startup cost for new products, and the traditional minimum volumes needed to reduce production cost.
A disposable item no longer needs to sell millions in order to be sold as a disposable item. 3D Printing is able to mass produce disposable products economically. A great example of a product taking advantage of this new paradigm is the Blue Boa suction tube.
The Blue Boa is a product created by Dental Rat, which is a local company in Slant 3D's home town of Boise, Idaho.
Slant 3D was originally approached by Becky Logue of Dental Rat in 2019 for creation of prototypes and design work on the Blue Boa. Our engineers created the ergonomic design by working with Logue and sourcing her experience in the dental field.
When it came time for production, the cost of injection molding such a complex ergonomic design was prohibitive for the brand new product. But when quoted the cost for producing several thousand of the units with 3D Printing, the business case became apparent.
While the unit cost was slightly higher than molding, the overall capital outlay was far less, since there was no mold. That allowed the parts to pay for themselves almost immediately just from cash-flow. And the resulting parts were still very cost effective.
Addtionally, Slant 3D was able to manufacture the suction tubes with compostable cornstarch-based plastic so the disposable plastic pieces would not contribute to the global plastic waste problem.
One final advantage of 3D Printing was the fact that once the products started to sell and feedback from actual customers came in Logue was able to send design modifications to Slant 3D. Those changes would then be implemented in all subsequent production of parts with no additional cost beyond the design work. We are basically able to push an update for the hardware parts the way an app updates on a smartphone.
The Blue Boa is a great example of a product that was able to go from concept to full scale production very quickly and affordably. If large scale 3D printing was not available it is possible that the product would have been put on hold for some time. The flexibility of 3D Printing allows the design to continue to evolve. And supply can perfectly match demand. There is no excess inventory and it is all made in the USA so that the supply chain is reliable, even with a pandemic on.