CINCINNATI - Pablo Arellano Jr. wants to be at the nexus of a new technology and millions of consumers. Cintrifuse headquarters on Sixth Street downtown will suffice for now.
Arellano is building a new company called 3DLT in the Cintrifuse startup accelerator, launched by Cincinnati business leaders last summer. The goal of the program is to provide advice, business connections and access to capital for new companies, boosting the region's innovation economy in the process. Arellano is a former Procter & Gamble Co. executive who thinks his affiliation with Cintrifuse lends credibility to his new venture.
His idea is to capitalize on new innovations in three-dimensional printing, a specialty niche that's taking off and enables designers, engineers, artists and others to turn two-dimensional ideas into three-dimensional objects.
"3DLT is a 3D printing template market place," he said.
It was one of the hottest topics for media covering the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this month. New "printers" are hitting the market that turn out household products like jewelry, toys, cellphone cases and even furniture. But they don't print on paper. Instead, they produce plastic models of any design fed into the machine on 3D templates.
The cost of 3-D printers has declined to the point where experts predict they'll start popping up in U.S. homes. More sophisticated and expensive printers are likely to be used in manufacturing plants, to build rapid prototypes and reduce the cost of designing new products. As 3-D printer use gets more prevalent, the need for 3-D printing templates is likely to increase.
So, Arellano is trying to build an online warehouse for these templates by inviting designers to produce them in exchange for a 30 percent to 70 percent share of all revenue they generate. It's similar to the business model used by iStockphoto, which was created in 2000 as a free site where artists could share their photos and illustrations. Now, it offers about 10 million files for sale to 7 million members, paying out $1.9 million a week in royalties.
"Our thought has been to take that same best practice and do it in an industry that's brand new," Arellano said. "It'll save consumers and commercial designers money."
Arellano said 3DLT will be launching a "kickstarter" project soon, offering 3D templates that can be used to make frames for eyeglasses and sunglasses.
Attorney Rob McDonald has advised Arellano on legal issues related to company formation. He said 3DLT is ahead of the curve, but its long-term success will be defined by the templates it can attract from designers.
"He has to have the ones in high demand," said McDonald, a partner at the Taft Stettinius & Hollister law firm downtown. On the plus side, McDonald thinks the 3D printing market will be huge.
"This is not a space where only one player can make it," he said.
Take a look at a 3D printer in action below.