Spectrum Group is a kind of phenomenon of Polish 3D printing industry. It is known for producing of materials for 3D print – Spectrum Filaments, which were awarded twice by CD3D as the best Polish producer of filaments and the best Polish company of 2015. It broadens successively the area of its activity – at the beginning of this year it started to distribute 3D printers and now, it is going to establish a department of 3D printing services. It is the only one distributor of Latvian Mass portal in Poland and since recently it has begun to distribute 3DGence machines (another distributor is only ABC Data). It wouldn’t be surprising, if not a fact, that the company has been working for only one year and its creators are under 30…
Spectrum Group is managed by Michał Żołądek i Tomasz Augustyniak. Its headquarter is placed in Pęcice, close to Warsaw. On Puławska street 223 in Warsaw you can visit its official showroom. Its filaments are one of the most popular filaments in Poland and are the sign of Spectrum.
Recently I have had an opportunity to come to Spectrum Store in Warsaw and talk to co-owner of the company – Tomek Augustyniakiem. I asked him about the reason of broadening their offer of 3D printers, plans connected with improvement of filaments and the key to their success.
Paweł Ślusarczyk: You succeed with your filaments in a very short time. You gained awards fro the best producer of filaments in Poland of 2015 and the best new Polish company of 2015 at CD3D plebiscite. At the beginning of 2016 you broadened your offer of 3D printers. Why? Aren’t the filaments enough?
Tomasz Augustyniak: We started in June 2015, so about one year ago. Of course, preparations to produce filaments began earlier. Besides, we had an opportunity to get to know each other, before the show began. It turned out, that our conception and strategy were correct and it bore fruits, which you mentioned. It is a very nice distinction and it motivates us to work harder. Coming back to your question – why did we broaden our offer of 3D printers? It is just the next step towards creation of complex customer service. I can add, than we are going to start with 3D design and personalised 3D prints. Out main aim is complexity of services.
PŚ: As far as 3D printing services are concerned, will you focus only on FDM technology?
TA: Yes. For this moment only FDM.
PŚ: Which 3D printers do you have in you current offer?
TA: Let’s begin with these, which we are the one and only distributor in Poland – Pass Portal- a Latvian 3D printer of amazing parameters and possibilities. What’s more – 3DGence (another distributor of this device in Poland is ABC Data), 3D Kreator, Ultimaker, Micro 3D and 3Doodler.
PŚ: How did you established the cooperation with Mass Portal? Who did start it?
TA: We made a contact by a familiar contractor from the USA. After a preliminary analyse of costs connected with distributing the device and carrying out some tests, we claimed, that it would be perfect for out offer. Its working area is bigger that standard volumen (35 x 35 cm), one, two or three printing nozzles, plenty of materials.
PŚ: You have visited Mass Portal recently. How was it? Is it a big company?
TA: The company is professionally prepared to distribute and sell 3D printers. As I know, they have a lot of current orders and they don’t have time to create their own showroom. They sell practically everything, what they manufacture and because of that, they aren’t able to install they 3D printers in their offices for their own needs. In the company work several dozen of people – in production, sales or quality control department. We are really glad with this meeting and everything what happened in Riga.
PŚ: Is everything manufactured Riga?
TA: Yes, it is. The whole process is held in the headquarters of the company.
PŚ: And who delivers filaments?
TA: Maybe… a manufacturer of filaments? <laughter>
PŚ: Don’t you know him?
TA: After preliminary talks I know, that as far as a basic material (PLA) is considered, it is delivered from China. We will inform you also about another materials.
PŚ: What does pay off more – production of filaments or selling 3D printers?
TA: Selling 3D printers is a very interesting and developmental business, the next challenge. Above all, every customer finds another application of each device. Do we often meet with shocking ideas? A filament is a foundation of our business from the really beginning and I don’t want to judge, which area is better or worse. Both of them are worth our attention and we engage in then equally.
PŚ: You’ve got a lot of 3D printers in your offer – it it a good business model? Isn’t it better to focus on one or two branches?
TA: It will change soon. We are planning to concentrate on 2 or 3 models of 3D printers. We are modifying a current strategy.
PŚ: How do you choose 3D printers to you offer?
TA: Conventionally, we take a quality of 3D prints into consideration, than ease of use and failure frequency. Our relations with manufacturers are also important. When a company is consumer-friendly, it is easier to sell a product.
PŚ: When you were talking about 3D printers, you didn’t mention Zortrax.
TA: Should I have to do it?
PŚ: I don’t know…? It’s the most popular Polish 3D printer. Almost everybody has it in his offer.
TA: We don’t like to replicate ideas of anybody. One 3D printers from this company was placed in our showroom to compare it with another ones, but it was the end of our cooperation with Zortrax.
PŚ: The last question about 3D printers – are you going to distribute new models?
TA: As I said, we would like to focus on 2-3 manufacturers of 3D printers. We won’t search for new branches, but who knows… when something new and interesting will debut on the market? But for the time being, we don’t plan to broaden the offer.
PŚ: Let’s come back to materials for 3D printing. I know, that in your past you didn’t work with this technology, and than you appeared on the market with a ready product. How did it begin?
TA: Do you know Leszek Rakowski, who writes a blog a Rewolucja3D? We have known each other for a very long time and it was he, who interested us with this technology. Additionally, we know people who work on processing of plastics. That is why we decided to focus on production and selling filaments. And as you can see, we do it well.
PŚ: The fact, that you succeed is comparable with the success of Zortrax – which is one of the most popular manufacturers of 3D printers in Poland and Spectrum Filaments is one of the most popular companies selling filaments. How did you achieve it in such a short time?
TA: I will tell you something… 3D printing industry in Poland is still growing, but it is not that big, that you want it. Establishing a company requires a development of branch, and it is a long-lasting process. You can speak abot succes after some years and I would be careful with statements of this king. Now, we just focus on our work. We don’t want to stand on pedestal of success. We will refrain and wait…
PŚ: OK, and do you see any company from Poland which could deprive you of the prize for you filaments, which you received this year?
TA: Every company can do it – the prize is affordable for every company existing on the market. We gained it whis year and we are glad with it, but we are not slowing down.
PŚ: You said, that Poland is a small market. Do you work also abroad? Do you build a distributive net in Europe?
TA: Yes, you can find us abroad, not only in Europe, and it is our main target. Currently we are launching out filaments in the USA. They will also be available in Africa and Asia and we are still “fighting” for Asia. We also know perfectly the Austrian market, that is why it is possible, that we will establish a branch of our company there.
PŚ: Do you have your own production line in the headquarters of your company?
TA: No, not it the headquarters, but in the south of Poland in a huge hall. Our line looks like a toy surrounded by machines. In the headquarters there is only a magazine of filaments.
PŚ: Is the line is yours or you commission to produce filaments to someone?
TA: Yes, the line is ours. It would be hard to produce a filament without a machine.
PŚ: So, the line is your and you just outsource the service?
TA: If you ask, if we stand before the machine, the answer is no – our technologists does it.
PŚ: There are numbers of materials for low-budget 3D printers, which use PLA or ABS on the market. Do you see any sense of manufacturing of another, special material?
TA: When we spoke to foreign distributors and resellers, it turned out, that mostly interested in buying non-standard materials from us. Our filament called Stone Age, which imitates a stone, enjoys huge popularity. But PLA and ABS lead the way in our offer. The need depends also on their use. Very wanted are carbon fibres and materials which change their colours.
PŚ: How do you judge a trend of closing filaments in cartridges – it is dangerous for your business model?
TA: We are into cartridges, when our materials are inside! <laughter>
PŚ: You specialise in production of filaments for low-budget FDM 3D printers – did you wonter about producing of another materials like resins or powdered plastics?
TA: This topic is currently under discussion.
PŚ: How do you find a situation, when a huge, international corporation announces its debut on 3D printing market and it wants to sell plenty of materials and it delivers them to supermarkets, but their price is visibly lower – about 60 zł per spool?
TA: We focus on delivering of complex product in good quality and we assume, that it will find a proper place on the market. And we are not afraid of an increase of competence. We do our job, as well, as we can. The situation, what you asked about, doesn’t depend on us.
PŚ: Could you give us away your ideas for future? Will it be production and selling filaments or selling 3D printers? Or maybe services? how do you see the company in one year or two years?
TA: When you are asking about novelties, I can tell you, that we are launching a new filament of a diameter of 2,85 mm. We do it because of the fact, that Apple launched 3D printers from Ultimaker in its offer. This diameter correspond with machines of an American distributor of out filaments. We did it one month after this decision, so it shows, how quick can we react on market changes. We are going to show a brand new filament dedicated for marketing. It’s not a secret, that we are improving our sales department, so we will focus on distribution of 3D printers. You asked, how do we see our company in several next years? We would like to be a well-known, respectable company, which offers complex services connected with 3D printing industry – from selling 3D printers and materials, to printing of personalised models.
PŚ: Do you have an office on Puławska?
PŚ: Would you like to broaden it – in Warsaw or another city?
TA: Yes, we thought about it, but for this moment, we don’t need it. As you know, the most wanted and appreciated way of sale are internet stores. Showroom should visualise possibilities of 3D printing technology and show customers what our 3D printers can do. Everybody can come and touch it and create a test print. It changes a lot. We are not going to broaden our net of stationary stores. Eventually, we change an area of the store on Puławska.
PŚ: My last question – on May 2nd Rafał Tomasiak was given a Polish flag from the president of Poland – Andrzej Duda for outstanding merits connected with development of Polish companies abroad. How do you feel, when will you receive your flag?
TA: I guess, that we rather print out our flag whit Mass Portal, which has a functionality of 3D printing in two colours. <laughter>
PŚ: Thank you for the interview.
TA: Thank you too.