DiFi3D Brings Product Development to the Masses
Do you have an invention in mind that’s dying to get out? Is there a napkin sketch stuck in that bottom desk drawer?
Eric Haddad, owner of Dimensional Fidelity (DiFi3D) in Boerne, wants to help.
“I love product development,” said Haddad, an El Paso native. “I’ve always been a tinkerer.”
A dozen desktop-sized three dimensional (3D) printers fill Haddad’s office on North Main Street. The printers cost $2,000 - $4,000, and they aren’t printing toy Army men or keychains.
Haddad “prints” product prototypes and parts for small businesses and inventors. Eventually, he would like to do small-scale manufacturing of 50 to 500 units.
“I want twelve little ‘employees’ working around the clock,” Haddad stated.
To date, DiFi3D has done prototype creation and field testing for companies in a variety of industries: food production, sporting goods and medical devices, among others.
“We developed a way to grow herbs in wine bottles. We helped a power lifter design a new grip for weight training,” Haddad explained. “We even helped a lady design a tamale press. She’s now producing 10,000 tamales a month for HEB.”
Haddad believes product development can be a way out for people looking for a life change. DiFi3D “democratizes product development,” he said.
The process starts with a three-dimensional computer-aided design (CAD). Haddad has used CAD software since his days at Texas State where he received a Master of Science in Technology Management with a minor in metals.
After school, Haddad joined James Avery Craftsman in Kerrville. His wife, Betsy, also a graduate of Texas State, landed an academic advising post at The University of Texas at San Antonio. The couple settled in Boerne. They now have two children.
“We love living in town and biking to Main Street,” Haddad said.
At James Avery, Haddad served as a liaison between the artists designing jewelry and the manufacturers producing it.
“I would re-engineer handmade jewelry designs for mass production,” he said. “Sometimes we’d put pieces into a paint shaker with nuts and bolts to give them a raw, handcrafted look.”
In 2012, Haddad started DiFi3D as a side hustle. By 2016, he was ready to take the entrepreneurial plunge.
“I’m an entrepreneurial guy. My father, grandfather and great-grandfather were all business owners,” said Haddad.
“I’m not a big fan of other people telling me what to do. I wanted to put my personality and my values on a company.”
Haddad’s Avery experience helps him complete the product development life cycle for customers.
With “the heart of a teacher,” he walks clients through the process of first making molds and then manufacturing finished products whether that be overseas or stateside.
“Most inventors drop all their money on a patent or an injection mold, or they take their napkin sketch to a manufacturer who can’t do anything with it,” Haddad explained. “We help people get a design, a prototype and a plan.”
Eventually, Haddad hopes to partner with some of the companies he serves. It would lower upfront costs for clients and give everyone skin in the game.
“We aim to be invested in our clients’ success whether we’re taking an ownership stake or not,” said Haddad.
Haddad is bullish on the future of 3D printing. The “additive process” creates less waste than other forms of manufacturing.
In a traditional milling process, you remove the parts you don’t want, Haddad said. With 3D printing, you add only what you do want.
As materials diversify from plastics and rubbers to masonry and organics, more 3D printing applications are coming to life. Haddad’s kids are particularly excited about some of them.
“Who wouldn’t want to print their own chocolate and pancake batter?” Haddad wondered.