Dr. Glass Interview
It is always amazing to hear about the various applications people find for their 3D printers. Most of my experience though is second hand, through sources like blogs or youtube. I rarely meet people who have heard of 3D printing at all, let alone have utilized one. There came a point where I knew I needed to see a print with my own eyes.
In hopes of having some first hand experiences I searched google for “3D printing group Atlanta”. The very first result was a hackerspace called Freeside. A hackerspace, also callled a makerspace, is a place for people to get together to hack and build things. On my first visit to the space I met people with so many skills and interests. To my delight, the first thing you see upon entering the space is a Makerbot Cupcake CNC. They open the space at weekly meetings to discuss current and future projects. Some include building a robot for a Sumobot competition, rebuilding a DeLorean, homebrewing beer and 3D printing all sorts of stuff. Everyone there knows more than me so it is a good place to hang out. Find out more about Freeside
As I walked in for the meeting a few weeks ago I noticed a guy working with 3D modeling software so I asked him what he has been up to. Nick, or Dr. Glass as he calls himself, uses his 3D printer, a Makerbot Thing-0-matic, to find better ways to fix peoples’ feet. Knowing this had to be shared with the world, I told him about my blog and he agreed to an impromptu interview. Thanks Nick for sharing, it is truly amazing work.
3DPforAll: Tell us about yourself. What is your background and how did you become interested in 3D printing?
DR.Glass: I’m a resident for Foot and Ankle reconstructive surgery in Atlanta, GA. I’ve always been a big enthusiast/hobbyist with computer technology, along with biologic and medical sciences. The combination of those two things has lead to me engage with 3D printing for research as well as general curiosity. The reprap community is a pretty exciting platform, and I find the real camaraderie with other members to be somewhat contagious.
3DPforAll: What is the research project you are currently working on? How do you use 3D printing to achieve results?
DR.Glass: My current research project, concerning 3D Printing, is to reconstruct bones of patients lower extremity anatomy for the use of preoperative planning. This is currently being achieved through a combination of high resolution Computed Tomography (CAT) scans and open source software applications to create, modify, and print STL files. By having a copy “template”, I hope to demonstrate improved surgical performance and outcome. 3D printing and reprap devices allow this to be done in a cost effective and timely manner which will continue to increase in convenience as 3D printers become more ubiquitous.
3DPforAll: What kind of things do you print outside of your research? What printer/hardware are you working with? How awesome is it to own one?
DR.Glass: In order to learn more of the science behind it all, I dropped some cash on a Makerbot Thing-o-matic. It’s been quite amusing to practice with while learning to tweak the hardware and software. There’s really a lot that goes into it. I started with expected prints as straight downloads from Thingiverse, like the Calibration Box, Wall Thickness Utility, etc. Eventually I moved on to other classics like the Stanford Bunny, Bottle Opener, and Human Skull. (fun fact: kids love bunnies). Once I got that going, I’ve started printing a few custom objects, created in Newtek’s Lightwave 10 software, like the “Foot-Pumpkin String Light Unit” , (which I’ll upload to Thingiverse before Halloween). Owning your own hardware is awesome, indeed. Beware, that sound effects generated from a Thing-o-matic will drive roommates crazy, and induce the strangest dreams imaginable. I suggest printing wisely.
3DPforAll: We met at Freeside, what attracted you to the space? Do you think it will help you in your research?
DR.Glass: I was invited to come out and visit on a Tuesday meetup. There, I was introduced to a few of the guys, as well as a quick “Crash Course” in 3d printing. I was attracted to the space for the groups projects, classes, and most of all the volumes of enthusiasm. That combined with the hardware made me want to come back again and again. Freeside Atlanta is truly an awesome place for people interested in Hardware, Software, and DIY. It has already helped with research so far, and I’ll be confident to go about future projects with these resources in mind.
3DPforAll: What do you see in the future for 3D printing? Not just in everyday hobbyist machines like Makerbot, but in the consumer goods market.
DR.Glass: In consumer goods markets, I see an unimaginable change to everyday life. When you consider the current progress of “fab labs” and other home manufacturing capabilities combined with Open copyright movements, it’s hard to imagine post-capitalistic world which is perfused with socialistic ideals. How and when this all arrives will remain a mystery to me at this point, but it’s truly revolutionary. I was warned early on that having your own 3D printer will change you. You’ll walk around this world sizing everything up and thinking to yourself “I could make that…” Try walking through Walmart the same way again.
3DPforAll: With my blog, I love sharing about the capabilities of 3D printing. How do you share it?
DR.Glass: I share in proof. Most non-3D enlighted people (normies) don’t get the point with spoken testament. Even after you explain it, it still sounds fairytale to them. Bring in a printed model or show them a youtube video and you can see their eyes deepen with disbelief. I share by showing. My apartment and workplace are collecting some of my favorite prints. As far as videos, I try to share these two to anyone who genuinely wants to know where my enthusiasm stems from.
I show everyone this TED talk from MIT’s Neil Gershenfeld on the future of 3D printing.