Manuel Siskowski’s idea sounds like science fiction: instead of buying things in the store, they should be printed at home in the future. Like the replicator from the “Star Trek” series, which seems to be able to create everyday things out of nowhere.
Siskowski’s proposal is not quite as futuristic, he wants us to be able to get metal tools, such as hammers or screws, from the home printer soon. The move to the diy store or the order in the online shop would therefore be obsolete. As a customer, we would only have to download the design, the rest is made by the 3D printer.
Startup sends tools — and delivers print designs for accessories free of charge with
But this is still the music of the future, as the 31-year-old founder knows. The necessary printers already exist, but the distribution is still limited. Even in industry, they are rarely used. With its startup Wiesemann in 1893 — the brand has taken over Siskowski’s company from a family business — the founder wants to change that now.
The online shop is already not only selling tools — which still come into the house in a classic way — but is already providing designs for tool accessories from the 3D printer. And for free. For example, if you buy a hammer, you can also download the file for the appropriate wall holder and print it out before the package is delivered. In some cases, this saves money because 3D printers can print in small quantities that do not have to be imported from the Far East first.
So the replicator is still science fiction. But the founder still plans big, as he says.
Founder scene: Manuel, tool parts from the 3D printer — this sounds like a very long-term plan, because 3D printing is still in its infancy.
Manuel Siskowski: Absolutely. At the beginning, we could hardly estimate how widespread this is among our users. However, they are very tool-savvy, which means that the prevalence of 3D printers is higher in them than in the normal population.
Founding scene: You plan 150,000 tools sold and 15,000 downloads for the 3D printer this year. So a maximum of ten percent of customers perceive your 3D service?
Siskowski: It’s only two percent. The remaining eight percentage points are customers of third-party brands who do not get the tool ingesand there. This is why we incorporate our logo into our 3D designs. This is how we make it to the wall in the customer’s basement – without having to sell a product. We intentionally place the logo so that it becomes visible when the tool is removed.
Founder Scene: Do you offer your free 3D designs not only on your website but also on other platforms?
Siskowski: Yes, because it brings us to users who are not actually our customers. That’s just the exciting thing for us.
Put established manufacturers in need of explanation
Founder scene: How does it get to manufacturers that they lose revenue through your free prints?
Siskowski: We want to absolutely attack the established manufacturers. They find out why items that cost cents in production cost them several euros, while users with a 3D printer hardly cost anything. We try to hit the competition where it hurts. We ourselves have never sold accessories individually, but added them to the tool and thus hardly lose sales, but even save a few cents.
Founding scene: Do you already have the size that it hurts the competition?
Siskowski: In some product categories we are on the screen of established manufacturers. Because it is precisely through Corona that they are looking much more closely at digital commerce, because the brick-and-mortar business has broken down massively. But they completely sleep over the topic of 3D printing.
Founder scene: You want to offer not only simple accessories from the 3D printer, but also whole tools in the long term. However, no one has equipment at home that can print metal.
Siskowski: That’s right. We therefore have an intermediate step: these are plastic-printed designs that are not free of charge, for example small screw boxes. These are just microtransactions. But we want to show that as a hardware player you can also make completely digital sales.
Founding scene: And after that?
Siskowski: Then comes the metal pressure. This is by far the most exciting thing for us. It is no longer a question of the consumer sector, because I cannot imagine that they will have a metal printer at home. We want to build a platform that will offer tool designs for industrial customers.
Founding scene: What does this mean in concrete terms?
Siskowski: The use case for the industrial customer looks like this: One of its factories stands still because a specific tool is missing. The customer can then print it within a few hours and he will not lose any sales.
Expensive bet on 3D printing for metal
Founding scene: What does the customer pay for it?
Siskowski: We want to rely on a subscription model for the entire tool catalog. This is unthinkable in industry, because today everything is sold on a one-piece basis.
Founding scene: If you only provide the design — that is, a file —, how do you want to prevent it from simply being pirated and you don’t deserve anything from it?
Siskowski: Our designs will certainly appear on the Internet for free. But the difference is that we guarantee industrial customers that the tools we offer are the norm and work. With other platforms, no one is liable for this.
Founding scene: You want to appeal to industrial customers, but 3D printing for metal is still at the very beginning in this area.
Siskowski: Honestly, it does. However, we are already very satisfied with the prints that are possible so far. This is sufficient for most applications. The distribution is still expandable. Our bet is that it will become more important.
Founding scene: That’s an expensive bet, how do you finance that?
Siskowski: We subsidize this form of experimentation across our normal tool business.
Startup guarantees only for design — not for printing
Founder Scene: With your previous 3D printing designs, you have no influence on what the end result looks like for the customer. There is still a great deal that can go wrong. Can’t that fall back on you negatively?
Siskowski: Of course, this cannot be prevented. We therefore only guarantee the design. In the beginning, we didn’t take it very seriously until a sledgehammer fell off the wall because there were problems with the printed holder. Then we have become much more cautious and make appropriate indications, for example in the case of critical products.
Founder scene: In such a case, would you be liable if the customer was injured with a design of yours?
Siskowski: Unfortunately, we have no influence on the pressure. However, I have more concerns about this when we go to the industrial sector later, where larger sums of money are involved. There is no jurisprudence here yet, it is all still Wild West. We could hide from it for a long time or test it on a small scale, as we do.