Leaf Republic is a young company with unique and environmentally friendly tableware products! To gain customers, awareness and money the company is currently running a Kickstarter project. Since the launch of the project it gained a lot of positive feedback and long before the deadline the company has fully funded their project. But still, they need any support they can get!
The success and popularity of Leaf Republic is most likely due to a very promising vision: “We focus on food packaging and one-way dishes. Our claim: outdoor tableware has to be fully renewable and fully biodegradable. After years of designing, prototyping and testing, we’ve succeeded.”
During the development process, 3D printing was used extensively. Leaf Republic’s engineers greatly benefited from integrating 3D printing technology into their workflow. How 3D printing has served its purpose is explained in the following story!
Biodegradable tableware in only 28 days
The main product of Leaf Republic is biodegradable tableware and packaging such as plates and bowls. Amazing about Leaf Republic’s product is the fact that it is biodegradable in only 28 days. None of their products contain synthetical additives, coloring or glue. To make their products more unique: not a single tree has been cut!
Speeding up time of development
From the beginning of the product development stage, the engineers of Leaf Republic used 3D printing technology. Having their own 3D printer gave them huge benefits of creating prototypes very quickly. It also required a relatively low investment because 3D printing materials are affordable compared to other prototyping techniques. 3D printing technology helped Leaf Republic a lot to shorten the time to market. For some products the the development cycle took less than two weeks!
During the development cycle the engineers and designers printed many samples of their designs. They did so to have a good idea of what would be the look and feel of the final products. This is also shown in their kickstarter video where the designer presents a 3D printed prototype and compares it to the CAD model on his screen.
Integrating 3D printing into the production line
In the first stages of development 3D printing was mainly used for rapid prototyping. But there is more! Interesting about Leaf Republic is the fact they have also integrated 3D printing to improve their production lines. To improve their production machines or to create connection parts they used as many as 3D printable parts as possible. Also in this situation 3D printing saved the company a lot of time and investments to improve their workflow.
Multiple benefits of 3D printing
For Leaf Republic the most interesting part about 3D printing was shortening the development cycles, reducing prototype costs and being able to easily create moulds. For the future they hope 3D printers that can work with metal will be more affordable. This will help the company to produce stronger and better heat resistant parts.
One brick of building agile companies
Leaf republic is convinced that the future belongs to agile companies: Short time to market, close interaction of staff and processes, adaptive structures and concurrent development cycles. One part of this is facilitated by apps, the cloud and IT in general, the other part is enabled by new technologies for rapid production and prototyping such as 3D printers. And this holds not only true for high tech companies, but for any company – even if their product looks so rooted to the soil like leaf plates.