Israel-based startup Pzartech is offering a full 3D printing service based on an app intended to put consumers in touch with professional 3D printing shops and at the same time protect the original designer’s intellectual property.
Additive layer manufacturing (ALM), aka 3D printing, has turned the corner in the tech revolution and nowadays there is talk of this approach to manufacturing becoming a popular tool. However 3D printing is still a fairly expensive technology and its usefulness in our everyday lives still remains to be proved. Now Pzartech, an Israel-based startup, which was a semi-finalist in the IT/COM track of the Hello Tomorrow Challenge conference held in Paris on 18-19 April, has set out to improve general access to 3D printers, enabling anyone and everyone to print small spare parts and at the same time protecting the designer’s intellectual property. “3D printing is a great tool, but it depends on what you do with it. It’s not essentially a gadget,” argues Jeremie Brabet-Adonajlo, one of the four founders of the Tel Aviv-based startup, which has been up and running since the beginning of the year. In the short term, the Pzartech partners intend to develop their concept further in Israel towards a test phase and sampling. In the medium term the entrepreneurs then hope to see their app well received on the market in France, which is where they all come from.
Protecting designers’ rights
The basis of Pzartech’s service is a free-of charge smartphone app which provides a single platform where consumers, 3D printer owners and designers can meet. This ‘one-stop-shop’ app allows consumers to find the nearest and cheapest 3D printer using a reverse auction mechanism. In partnership with copy centres, the owners of 3D printers – “whose numbers are likely to grow strongly in the next few years,” believes Jeremie – and the designers, Pzartech’s aim is to provide a secure link between all the people involved. The startup is therefore looking to go beyond being just an intermediary and develop solutions to protect the designer’s intellectual property, using technology which streams objects to 3D printers. This means that users of the service will only have access to part of the printing file and will not be able to appropriate the design or otherwise infringe the rights of the designer. Pzartech is currently also working on algorithms to optimise the printing process, doing away with all technical limitations and ironing out any bugs which could corrupt the files.
Printing plastic spare parts
“Our initiative started out from the realisation that while many people know about 3D printing, almost nobody really uses it,” explains Jeremie, pointing to the lack of suitable, simple and efficient services. With this in mind, the four entrepreneurs decided to address a niche market – printing plastic spare parts, which “have nothing to do with the actual technology of a piece of equipment but which make the device unusable when they break. And things do break every day,” he points out. Pzartech’s business model is based on the long-term need for this type of spare parts. The startup is therefore part of the trend towards more environmentally-friendly behaviour – i.e. not simply throwing a device away before the end of its real lifetime just because spare parts are not readily available – while also meeting the needs of manufacturers who for logistical reasons do not always make spare parts, such as for example a plastic watch clasp, available. “We want to get back to the basics of 3D printing, i.e. offer people a service,” stresses Jeremie Brabet-Adonajlo.