6 ways you can use 3-D printers

Small business owners are able to bring new, innovative products to market faster and cheaper thanks to 3-D printers.

Create prototypes quickly and cheaply

small business 3d printers spuni

New York-based Spuni sells a modified baby spoon that eases an infant's transition to solid food. By using 3-D printers, the company had their first prototypes within months, at a fraction of what traditional manufacturers would have charged, said CEO Marcel Botha.

The team tweaked the design more than 30 times, making separate prototypes for each. It takes mere hours to create a Spuni prototype on a 3-D printer, allowing them to test far more variations, which Botha says results in a better product. The company's first spoon came to market earlier this year.

The team invested in its own 3-D printer a year ago, spending about $2,000 on one sold by MakerBot, which is now owned by Stratasys (SSYS). It costs Spuni about $5 to print one spoon. Botha estimates he would spend 10 times that if he used a traditional manufacturer.

Related: Victoria's Secret model's 3D-printed wings

Although its flagship spoons are mass produced, Spuni continues to use 3-D printers for work on new products and packaging. The company recently moved to a facility in the Brooklyn Navy Yard called New Lab, where there are a few additional 3-D printers the team can use.

- Last updated December 10 2013 08:37 AM ET
Search for Jobs