Well, I've tried but I just can't resist adding my two cents worth.
I think that what service bureaus and commercial entities lose track of is the enormous cost of educating customers.
It takes me almost an hour to give someone a tour of our shop (well ok, our shop is not that big, maybe almost half an hour) and to explain how CNC milling, laser cutting and RP can assist them. It is even more difficult if I go on a sales call and try and peddle the products without the customer being able to see the machines and their full capabilites. Once you have the hook in, it takes about a month or two with several call backs for the customer to find a project that they think will work with a new process. Then they try it and maybe it was an appropriate test or maybe it wasn't. Sometimes our approach with a with a good client is that we take a hit and go the extra mile to incorporate new technology in the hopes that we can show them what we can do on the next model. All of these take efforts take a large ammount of time and overhead costs which I then have to book back to paying jobs. That translates into higher end costs for my products and makes me somewhat LESS competitive with traditiona
l modeling techniques even though I have some of the best technology available.
Now, at a meeting last week with one of our biggest clients, I started into my pitch about our new RP capabilites and how it could help the firm win this job. One of the junior architects on the project jumped in the minute I said we were running an RP printer. "Oh, cool we used those for our thesis work, they are awesome." - BINGO - Cha ching, pre educated consumer, thank you higer education - doing exactly what they are supposed to do. We came off looking state of the art and the kid comes off looking really smart to his boss.
Now, did some service bureau lose a job on that kid's thesis. I really doubt it. Is the young architect or others in his program going to send jobs back to Boston from Colorado. Well, maybe, but only until they find out about our firm, and the fact that we offer better service and we can build all the other things that they need as well.
Many great ideas have failed, not becasue they didn't work, (or too quirky, difficult, had infighting about emerging file formats, were too expensive, were competing for each others niche markets .... but I digress) but because the cost of educating the consumer was too high.
Now that I have stumped on my soapbox about that one. If I did lose a true commercial job to a publicly funded organization, I would document it as clearly as I could and then fire off a letter to the Lab director and cc it to the University Presidents office offering constructive advice and not so veiled suggestions on how we would not look favorably upon graduates of thier programs being hired into our firm etc etc.
And by the way, I though it was against the RP-ML rules for anyone to overtly advertise on the list. The annoucement in question should have been flamed because it failed to mention, in any press release sort of way, why this new service was unique, or why one should use it above any other service, or generally who the group was, or anything that might really be of interest to the list. It sounded like sort of a weak plea for jobs to justify a machine already purchased. Fine, they can run some parts, but in the big scheme, are they don't sound like any more competion than the machine vendors themselves, most of whom will run a part or two for anybody for nothing if you ask. Just serves to get the word out..
OK so maybe that was a little longer than 2 cents. Maybe 2pence worth.
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