Modern Peek is the first 3D printing furniture company on the East Coast in the U.S. Jacob Kellner, the founder of Modern Peek, has been in the furniture business for over 20 years. He was one of the first people to see the demand of online furniture sales on eBay and capitalized on it. After one year of selling imported furniture from China online, they were bringing in over $150,000 in revenue a month. Struggling to keep inventory, they quickly out grew eBay. Customers didn’t want to bid for furniture and wanted to buy in bulk, so he set out to create his own online store. As the business continued to expand, so did the complexities of managing a furniture business.
Selling furniture requires large amounts of inventory, long lead times from China and warehousing space. The fixed cost of business and risk kept on growing along with the business. When buying in bulk furniture with changing consumer demands, a particular style may sit in a warehouse for months before it gets sold. The inventory turnover ratios were getting crazy! In 2019 during the trade wars between the US and China, a 25% tariff had been put on all goods coming into the U.S. All of the pieces were being sold at wholesale prices, so there was not enough profit to keep all of the prices the same. He needed to find a new source for furniture as importing it from China was not going to be sustainable long term. The tariff forced a change of strategy in the way he does business.
In February of 2019, Jacob needed a replacement part for one of his furniture pieces. He heard about 3D printers, so he found someone locally and the part 3D scanned and printed. It worked so perfectly that he wondered why it could not be done at a larger scale, making entire full furniture pieces. After doing research, he landed upon the WASP 3D printers, the fastest large-format 3D printers available. The time between learning about the technology and moving forward with it was a matter of months. It was going to be a complete pivot from the way business was being conducted, but it’s a requirement for building a long term sustainable business. Just like capitalizing on selling online before people understood the value in it, he transitioned into producing 3D printed furniture pieces.
3D printers solves the major pain points of being in the furniture business. 3D printed items can be made on demand so there is no need for large inventory or large upfront investments. The products are being made in the USA so there are no tariffs. There is no need for large fixed overhead of a warehouse to store inventory. The only inventory that's needed is raw materials. That means there is no wasted investment on pieces that aren’t selling. Every piece can be produced on-demand to the exact requirements of the customer. If the customer wants a piece in a custom size or color, it is a trivial task. The machine does all of the work for you. Just load in the material, color, design and the machine takes care of the rest.
That’s not to say that 3D printing furniture came without problems of its own. Like any other type of manufacturing, it has limitations on what can be made. With the freedom to design anything that can come to mind, he quickly learned the limitations of what can be made on large-format 3D printers while working with PicoSolutions. When any new technology is introduced, people tend to think in the way they already know how to do things. This can lead to creating a design that does not print well, or would be more cost effective to manufacture in a different fashion. Working with PicoSolutions, we developed a process for designing 3D printed furniture. We learned how to take the concept of what the client wants, and turn it into a beautiful piece that prints well in a short time frame. In the beginning it took a while to get a piece right but overtime it became easier & easier. Within months we now can do it in less than a few days to one week especially for custom pieces..
We always need to continuously come up with unique designs that people love, that are still familiar enough they trust it. It also needs to be cost effective while making sure it is designed within the limitations of the machine. The average prints takes 10 hours to print but can take as long as 30 hours. So every piece is engineered to be cost effective while maintaining a beautiful design. An error in the design could cause the print to fail after 20 hours. Of course on most machines it would take 2-4 times as long to accomplish these same prints. That is why the WASP 3MT Industrial was what I went with!
While Modern Peek, is still very much in the early stages of the journey of creating 3D printed furniture, more 3D printed furniture companies are coming about. It's a technology that allows you to break free from the traditional constraints for designing furniture while solving many of the problems involved in the industry that never had a solution before large scale economical printers came to market. The process brings a new furniture piece into production now takes days instead of months. Designs can be iterated rapidly to create the best product possible. While 3D printed furniture is new to the market, so was selling furniture online in the 90’s. Jacob is here to capitalize on a new and growing market just like before. He is a visionary and many more will soon join him on this journey to create a unique new vertical in the market!
Stay tuned for more interviews from our 3D printed furniture clients and updates on whats new in 3D printing solutions for all the markets we support! Art, Architecture, Medical, Furniture, STEM Education, and Fashion.