What follows is cross-posted from a discussion on linkedin re: my DMLS seatmast topper. Some of this is specific to a comment I received there, which basically boiled down to "the pricing structure and logistical/engineering benefits of DMLS are poorly suited for bike parts generally, and seatmast toppers specifically."
I've done a bit of pricing research and the numbers aren't totally crazy. Sure, the current cost is 2-3x what I'd want it to be, but between redesigning the part, and buying by the build platform (6-10 parts per order), and improvements in the technology (especially multi-laser machines), I'm actually not too far from other ultra-high-end seatposts. Consider that ax-Lightness sells their 2200 post for €467 - over $600. Even without significant drops in DMLS pricing, I can already buy my design at under $500 (at quantities of 6), with almost no overhead or fixed costs, no tooling to amortize, etc... It seems to me that there's an opportunity there somewhere, but I'm probably something else?
I completely agree that seatmast toppers aren't necessarily the best application of the technology - and moreover, my design is a pretty inefficient geometry to boot. I'm totally open to suggestions on this front - I'd love to test pricing on low mass/volume, high value consumer parts that aren't bicycle related!
That's really the key for me: To produce consumer products via DMLS. I tend to think that it's an inevitability, given improvements in the technology and a bit of intelligent planning & design. It's totally possible that I'm wrong about that, though - and like I say, it's not as if my planning & design is fully fleshed out either :)
I'd love to hear more of your thoughts, either here or via email (snwright@gmail). Thanks for the feedback!