There was for Candice Cabe, founder of Day2Night.
had an idea for a practical fashion product.
had noticed how many women wear flat shoes while on the way to work and then switch to heels.
Why not simply switch the heel rather than the whole shoe?
started a Kickstarter project and found women agreed that, yes, it was a fine idea--to the tune of pre-selling a thousand sets.
faced that fundamental problem: going from concept to a product that would satisfy enough customers to warrant the $30,000 initial cost of molds, even though the per-heel manufacturing cost at that point would be $1.
"If we make a mistake and mold it, it's a $30,000 mistake," Cabe
Unlike times past, however, there is a solution: 3D printers.
The devices have been in wide use as prototyping tools.
In fact, Cabe
has been using them in the process of developing the heels--a full 20 prototypes--along with software to model the physical stresses and torques that could occur in ordinary use, whether walking on cobblestones or dancing.
The heels looked and acted as though they were finished because she
chose to use a high-quality plastic that provided results rivaling injection molding.
could not only build prototypes, but the actual product.
could get feedback from customers, make changes where necessary, and actually undertake incremental improvements.
When the time came for full-scale manufacturing, there would be few surprises--and no $30,000 mistakes.
One day, when 3D printing becomes far cheaper, the technology could literally become a production system.
"I would imagine if the price were lower in rapid prototyping, I'd decide to go that route," Cabe