When an entrepreneur has an idea, it’s often a long wait before they can see it actually come to life. Prototypes, in the past, have been costly expenses done through large companies. In East Lansing, that’s changing.
JMH Labs is a prototyping studio, specializing in 3D printing, for local entrepreneurs. Through 3D printing technology, MSU student Jeff Hall can help make the product visions of local entrepreneurs come to fruition and stand in front of them. If they have a product idea, he can help move their progress forward. And, if Jeff can’t print the idea, he knows who can.
The Problem Being Solved:
When it comes to 3D printing entrepreneurs can take their ideas to a large, industrial design firm where they will spend a lot of money for their 3d prototype, or go much smaller with pre-made designs. JMH works in the middle. He works with local people, does the designing himself, and gets them the product they need affordably.
Where the Idea Came From:
Jeff’s first company, AirFuel won a cash prize at Accelerate Michigan but in the end he decided the idea wasn’t feasible and wouldn’t work with current technology. Luckily, he says, he realized this before it got too far and he was able to take the money he won and put it toward the inquiries he was getting about 3D printing. He realized he could start charging people for his services and function as a company; JMH was born out of necessity, he says, “as the best companies are.”
The most exciting thing right now in this industry, according to Jeff, is the up-and-coming revolution in CNC milling. 3D printing went through a recent revolution where it became more affordable, practical and easier for the general public to get access too and now CNC Milling, another form of drilling and cutting, is doing the same. It’s an area he is hoping to to expand into once it is more widely available.
With mostly excitement on the horizon, Jeff does worry about 3d printing being written off as a hobby or seen as not being functional.
While his targeted audience is older, professional, more established companies that have the money to fund in depth design and engineering endeavors, Jeff will work with anyone who needs his services. “There are a lot of people who need something designed or printed but don’t want to turn to the internet.”
Jeff says his biggest challenge has been being realistic. When he gets an exciting request from a client he gets excited and says, “It’s tough to push down the kid inside of me.” He has to be real about what it will cost, what he can actually do and the results the client will get. “3D Printing can attract big ideas,” he says, “But I need to make sure everyone is on the same page and be up front about my capabilities.”
There are a lot of options, locally and otherwise, to choose from when you want something printed or a sign made. Locally you can visit Capital Imaging or you can go online. But when it comes to 3D printing, there is no local hobby shop you can turn to. “I was surprised to find out that wasn’t available, and I’m excited to be one of the first to do it.”
While his funding has come from a combination of his Accelerate Michigan winnings and revenue, he stresses that a service company isn’t one that you simply go out and get funded.
By the time he graduates, Jeff would like to have a dependable clientele and hopefully be on a contract basis with some companies. “I would love to be able to do this full-time.” Until then, Jeff is doing the best he can to set himself up for future success. “I’m just trying to set my cards right so I can get the right chips and hope that when the time comes something big will happen.”
Jeff has learned that there is never going to be a “right” time to start your business. “The timing is always going to be terrible,” he says but he’s come to appreciate the quote, “Someday is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you.”
“If it’s important to you, just do it,” he says. That’s what he did with AirFuel and even though it wasn’t perfect and didn’t work out, it led him to new places.
You can contact JMHLabs through the website.