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In our second movie focussing on the cutting-edge world of 3D printing, Freedom of Creation co-founder Janne Kyttanen claims it was his passion for the technology rather than his skill as businessman that enabled him to make a commercial success out of designing and selling 3D-printed products.
When we visited Kyttanen as part of our research for Print Shift, the one-off magazine about 3D printing that we launched earlier this year, he showed us a range of different 3D-printed products he has designed over the years, including the very first lampshade he printed in 2000.
"This was the first thing I ever made and it cost me €5,000 at the time," Kyttanen reveals in the movie. "It made no commercial sense whatsoever."
However, over the subsequent years Kyttanen would team up with Belgian 3D printing company Materialise to create a range of 3D-printed lamps, one of the first collections in which 3D printing was used to created finished products rather than prototypes.
"That whole experiment led to an entire collection of lights," says Kyttanen. "We started a company together called Materialise.MGX and commercially that's been very successful."
Over the years, some of Kyttanen's 3D-printed products have been profitable, such as his range of customisable iPhone cases for Freshfiber, and others have not. Kyttanen says that the products he put his passion into have tended to be more successful than those he designed to make a profit.
"I made a light, which is called the 1597", he says. "It took me about 6 months to make it and I put an enormous amount of passion into it, but the final pieces were very expensive. We sold quite a lot of them and I was very happy with it. But I thought I could make it smaller, more consumer-friendly and try to maximise the profit. And then we hardly sold any."
"One I wanted to make money out of and the other was the one I put my passion into, which was ten times more expensive, but that one sold well and the other one didn't."
Likewise, Kyttanen says that the success of his company Freedom of Creation, which was bought by American 3D-printing giant 3D systems in 2011, is down to his passion rather than his shrewdness as a businessman.
"I started a company with a completely pointless, bogus business plan," he says. "I went to a lot of banks and I tried to get finance for it and I told them: 'One day the world will be in a way that I can put my entire company's worth in this USB stick.' That was probably 10 years ago."
"Everybody said: 'No, that's not going to happen, we're not going to give you any finance because your business plan is completely bogus.' Well, ten years later, I sell my company with exactly that same idea."
Kyttanen concludes: "So, if I am able to inspire any young artists out there, don't listen to anybody. Just follow your passion and it will find its own way."
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