I have noticed several companies out there who have started making some small items using 3D printing medium.  Now, don’t make a mistake here.  I applaud them.  The items look very good, and I am hearing good things about them.  So, no, I do not have a problem with these companies.  Quite the contrary.  They have served to wake me up to some shortcomings in my own operations.

First of all, I already make many of the items that are currently being released by these 3D printers.  It’s just that you guys do not know about them.  Part of this is due to the size of my product line.  I now sell close to 700 different items, and I am adding to that every couple weeks.  Unless you spend time regularly going through my entire product line, then it is inevitable that you will forget about some of my products.

But the biggest problem is me. I have simply gotten lazy.  With the exception of supporting Track-Link, I have not actively advertised TMD for close to a decade.  That needs to change, or I am going to go away sooner than otherwise necessary.  Therefore, I am going to have to step up my efforts to start re-working and re-posting my product line.  This is where Face Book can be my best asset.  Unfortunately, Face Book is not too happy with me these days.  Apparently, I fall under their category of “anti-social” or ‘not politically correct.’  As a result, I can’t even pay to push my products — even if I wanted to.  The best I can do is post things on the TMD Face Book page and hope they get re-blogged.  But I’m not worried, you guys have always come to my rescue with such things.

Now, back to TMD going away.  I have watched the 3D printing world since it was an experimental process.  I have always known that it would eventually put me out of business.  I am a horse whip company if a horseless carriage era.  So it is inevitable, especially since I have no intention of learning to draw on a computer.  I have nothing against those who do.  Some of those guys out there are great technicians, but that is what they are — technicians.  They are not what I would consider to be craftsmen.  On the other hand, Karl and I are most definitely craftsmen.  We do what we do in a way that the majority of those who draw on the computer cannot.  But this still does not change reality, and the reality is that 3D printing has finally reached a point where, from this day forward, it will slowly start eating away at my ability to continue operations.

Here again, I do not want you to misunderstand me.  I am not complaining, nor am I lamenting anything.  I am a realist.  I knew this was coming long before most of you ever heard of 3D printing (I have been in on the forefront of the technology from the start).  No, all I am doing is sharing my thoughts with you about the changes I see coming in our hobby.  Truth be told, 3D printing will soon put the plastic companies out of business.  As soon as we can afford to put high-resolution printers on our desk tops, the whole industry will be driven by the technicians who draw the programs we buy to print our models.  It is just the way the world works.  It is senseless to deny the truth, and I know it.

Still, in spite of what I know is coming, I am not ready to go away yet.  So, the whole purpose for this post is to let you know I am aware of what is coming, and what I need to do if I want to keep TMD operating for as long as possible.  I also want to assure you that I am going to do my best to do exactly that: I am going to do my best to work even harder to push TMD back to the forefront of every 1/35 armor modelers mind when he or she goes looking for something they need to make their latest build complete.  I’m not sure how successful I’ll be at this; I already have too much to do.  But I am going to try.  I can accept going the way of the Do-Do, but not if I do so earlier than necessary because I was lazy.  That would be letting all of you down, and I simply cannot bear the thought of letting a buddy down.  That grates against the old Marine in me.

Stay Safe,


[NOTE: Per my announcement last year, I do not share JOE’S CORNER posts on Face Book.  You are free to do so — if you so desire. But, out of deference to a single modeler who complained about the nature of JOE’S CORNER posts, I agreed not to post them on TMD’s Face Book page.  Apparently, ‘personal stuff’ has nothing to do with me running my company.  Who knew?  LOL 🙂 ]


  1. Consider Instagram as a posting medium. None of the political bs. I stay away from fb.

  2. I think your analysis of the incoming transformation of the market is essentially sound, but I would offer that I do not think that this HAS to put you out of business. As a professional designer very much concerned with the whole user experience thing, I would offer the following observations:

    – First, TMD to me means quality. Quality casting, crisp detail, quality materials. I simply like to use these products. That is not something you loose to 3D printing.

    – Second, yes, there will come a point where I might be able to purchase a 3D printer and buy some 1:35 items to print, but the quality of the product, (in this case, 3D modeling, printer quality and resolution, overall engineering of the part) will still imply an overall result of varying quality. What I mean is that part for part, TMD items may very well beat 3d printed items. To me, as a modeler, this is a crucial factor.

    – Third, you may not learn to 3D model, but you could look into getting your catalog 3D scanned and prepared as appropriate printing files and sell them to stay ahead of the curve. You already have sound parts on your hands and an impressive catalog.

    – That brings me to the fourth, most important point. The overall TMD experience starts at the moment someone hears the name of your company for the first time, be it from a modeler’s blog, a magazine, etc. all the way down to the moment that modeler is done with his project using TMD’s products, and everything in-between. So what does it means? It means pretty much everything you can think of ranging from:

    – Branding
    – Subject coverage (i.e.: TMD produces what I need as a modeler).
    – Catalog and online experience (i.e.: it’s a breeze to locate and order anything).
    – Shipping
    – Instruction
    – Quality of the product (with all the subtleties of what this entails: molding quality, resin quality, engineering of the part, etc.).

    All of this goes together to create a global user experience. Generally speaking, if this experience is good, or better yet, optimal (i.e.; you get the high-mark on all of the above from the user’s standpoint), customers tend to come back.

    If you ask me, the one point where you could make some gains would be on the online experience. Just by getting an easier access to the sheer magnitude of your catalog on this website would likely help your customers get more visibility on items that might be of interest to them. That dropdown on the left is suboptimal in that regard.

    There’s a lot to say about this particular aspect, but I won’t go into the details here, I’m sure you see where I’m getting at.

    Hopefully, this will provide you with some food for thought. Good luck!


    1. JV,

      Thanks, this is the type of feedback that actually helps a guy like me evaluate his company’s position in the market. I can see that, if I stay on it, I should do well in every area EXCEPT my website. Unfortunately, that is going to be a tough thing for me to fix. I am not that good at programming, so — until I can afford a small car payment every month — I am stuck with the free version of Woo Commerce. Anything else will run me several hundred dollars a month for what will amount to not that many additional sales. In truth, I’m not all together sure it would break even. I might end up making it easier to find things and still lose money.

      However, I can assure you, I will definitely be reading and re-reading your comment in the comming weeks. Thanks again. Stay safe — Joe

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