By Sarah Feldberg | Last Updated on
Ian YangLaunch date:
Currently in beta, launch expected Q1 2017Big idea:
Using 3D printing to help independent designers create and sell products directly to consumers
The backstory: Inspiration via technology
Manufacturing consultant Ian Yang moved to the Bay Area from the UK a few years ago to learn more about software. When his company was acquired, Ian saw a chance to branch out on his own and went looking for inspiration.
At a community workshop and studio, Ian found himself intrigued by the potential of 3D printing to democratize the manufacturing process. “I saw an opportunity for 3D printing to be used for individuals who don’t have the resources to go to China and make a big order.”
Ian envisioned independent designers dreaming up beautiful, refined products and bringing them to market via on-demand 3D fabrication. In 2014 he began developing Gantri, a company devoted to helping designers create high quality products and get them in the hands of discerning consumers.
Building the business: Finding a pain point
Part of honing the concept for Ian’s business involved meeting with designers to discuss their challenges and goals. “We found a big pain point among independent designers,” Ian says. “A lot of designers, even the incredibly talented ones, don’t have access to manufacturing and marketing to create their own products.”
That set Ian on the path that would be become Gantri, a full-service platform that guides hand-picked designers through the production process from ideation to design to manufacturing to sales.
Initially Ian signed contracts with three designers to create premium lighting products, but in just five months Gantri’s talent roster has already swelled to 10. With a trio of Ultimaker printers running ‘round the clock, capacity, not demand, is the limiting factor.
Boosting quality: A higher standard
Quality is the crux of everything Gantri does. While 3D printed products often have a less refined feel, Ian is determined that Gantri’s lamps to stand up to those made more traditionally. “On the website we don’t talk about 3D printing. We don’t tell you, ‘Like it because it’s 3D-printed. Like it because it’s a great product.’”
To achieve that level of sophistication, the right filament has been key. Ian wanted a light shade that was smooth and glowing, but with the wrong filament, tangling was an issue. Sometimes designs simply wouldn’t print.
Without Cubicity, “we wouldn’t be here,” Ian says. “We wouldn’t be able to produce the quality of products without the two filaments we have. We were very lucky that we found the filaments.”
Using the right materials and finishing process, Gantri is now producing minimalist modern lamps that stand up to anything you’ll find on store shelves. “It’s a beautiful finished product,” Ian says.
Looking forward: Factory of the future
While Gantri is still in beta, Ian anticipates an official launch in the first quarter of 2017. Right now the company is focused on lighting design, but Ian hopes to branch into other house wares in the future and expand Gantri’s pool of creative talent.
Down the road, the founder envisions incorporating more automation into 3D printing, creating the factory of the future full of 3D printers producing stunning, high-quality lamps and home goods for customers on-demand.
“Everyone talks about the fourth industrial revolution,” says Ian. “I want us to be the first company that provides this platform for designers.”