News and thoughts about 3d printing technology

Joris from Origo interview

Months back when rapid prototyping technologies were still new to me,  I read this post from now Origo co-founder, Joris Peels, announcing his farewell to i.materialise, the wonderful international 3D printing service.  He has now ventured out to advance the  technology and open it to everyone. He has been kind enough to share his experience at i.materialise with me and how that brought him to create a project like Origo and what it is all about. I would like to thank him for all of his patience and time. I will certainly be keeping an eye on what he does in the coming years.
3DPP: You had your stints at larger 3D printer services and now you have your own project in the works. What are your passions and goals for 3D printing?
Joris: I’m obsessed with 3D printing and I am doing everything I can to let anyone make anything. I love the new i.materialise site and the great and inventive submissions for the Titanium Machine Man Challenge. I also am smitten with designers such as Hugo Arcier and think the 3D printed paperclip the infinite clip is just about the best reinvention.
3DPP:  The internet is a great place to learn about 3D printing but many people I speak to have never heard of 3D Printing. How is that?
Joris: 3D printing is a 20 year old industry that until only a few years ago only catered to business-to-business customers. Only a few designers and product development people in any one company would have any contact with it, and their work was usually secret. The industry has also been hampered by several name changes and terms being used interchangeably such as rapid prototyping, additive manufacturing, free form manufacturing etc.
3DPP: What was your experience at Materialise? I know it has many divisions and international offices. How did it start out?
Joris: I joined them after having worked at Shapeways. Materialise is over 20 years old and was started by its CEO Fried Vancrean. Materialise is the market leader in 3D printing software. Most service bureaus and engineers working in 3D printing use its Magics software to check and repair files. It also develops a lot of medical tools such as software that helps surgeons plan surgeries virtually and produce patient-specific surgical guides. It is also one of the world’s largest service bureaus and has its own Mammoth 3D printers.
 3DPP: Materialise claims the most 3D printers under one roof. What are some machines and manufacturing techniques used? What are some of the more impressive materials that are supported?
Joris: Materialise mainly uses Stereolithography, Fused Deposition Modeling  and Selective Laser Sintering and also has Zcorp, Objet and several other technologies. There are hundreds of 3D printing materials. I really like Ultem which can be used on-board commercial aircraft. Because it is certified and acts as a fire retardant it is actually a functional material. Functional materials, rather than the previous materials that were built to fail or built mainly to look pretty, are the future of the industry.
3DPP: The i.materialise site opens the technology to anyone with a creative design, but not everyone can use CAD software. So how is spreading the technology a function of software learning curves?
Joris: To really know how to 3D model you have to spend two years or so with Rhino or 3DsMax. But, in a shorter time frame you can master Sketchup. This is more limited but much easier to use. In my mind the easiest way for the average person to build is using 3Dtin. 3Dtin lets anyone easily build up an object out of bricks. It works in the web browser and is so easy that we had ten-year-olds making a lot of 3D printed things with it with minimal instruction. 3Dtin is limited, but intelligently limited. In my mind it is the paintbrush for a 3D printed future. Only around 30 million people can 3D model.  3dtin makes 3D printing available to the 2 billion internet users worldwide.
3DPP: This brings us to Origo, your new project. A 3D printer for kids. Really? When can I buy one?
Joris:  Yes. We believe that in the long run kids will be the most successful users of the device. Adults like the idea of 3D printers and there are a lot of very creative adults out there. The vast majority though are not makers yet. For them use 3D printing would consistently require a change in behavior. Kids imagine and make things all the time and are unrestricted in their creativity. They just see Origo as a tool.It’s neither a toy that makes toys nor a learning tool. It’s a machine that makes whatever it is the kid wants to make. It’s a pencil that lets kids create in plastic. It will be fun of course, and kids will learn a lot about designing things, manufacturing and engineering. But, primarily it’s just a tool for expression.
It is to be released in 18 months, we hope. Someone needs to give us a lot of money so we can build this.
3DPP: How does 3Dtin help you get kids into the market?
Joris:  3Dtin is very easy, you simply place blocks and they build up your model. It also has advanced features such as smoothing, templates and advances shapes.Because it is block-based kids can learn by counting blocks. They can know that if they want something to fit in their pencil case it has to be 15 by 20 blocks. They know that if it is to survive this pencil case it will need to be 3 blocks thick. They tried 2 blocks last time and this didn’t work. By thinking in terms of these blocks and using them to engineer new creations they will learn about 3D printing while doing it.
3DPP:So what about calibration and maintenance? Setting up some of the DIY printers out there is usually more complicated than getting it to print. What do you have in mind for Origo?
Joris: Yes, they can be tricky. We hope to reduce all of this through our design.  We hope to minimize the role parents will play but we cannot be completely sure we will be able to do this right now.
3DPP: As someone knowledgeable about the 3D printing world, give us some insight into what you see as the future. Do you think there will ever be storefront printshops? Could this be an education tool for those less familiar with the technology or CAD?
Joris: Yes, to me it is a matter of time before Kinko’s or someone similar steps into this market. It would be very easy to do. FabLabs and Hackerspaces are already “storefront creation shops” with the added benefit of being a place to learn and socialize. This is a very powerful idea that combines the “third place” with access to technology.
3DPP:  From a business perspective how do you imagine 3D printing will be be integrated into future markets? What would you like to see happen?
Joris: I believe that 3D printing will be a 90 billion dollar market by the end of the decade. I believe that for the 1% of things we care most about we will turn to 3D printing to get exactly what we want. Furthermore, some companies will integrate 3D printing into their supply chain in order to produce items to order and enter more specific markets. Certain people will use 3D printers in the home to make what they want and others will turn to services and designers to make things for them. All in all, there will be an unbelievable level of competition, and product development will accelerate across the board. I don’t believe that everyone will have a 3D printer in their homes. Even if we could make everything with 3D printing at home, we wouldn’t. We make the things we care about with 3D printing. Sometimes we can’t be bothered and we’d go to a mass produced product. Sometimes we’d like to outsource our design decisions and follow a brand. For many things we’d simply combine a 3D printed element with a mass produced product that is superior in functionality but inferior in its fit. I do believe, however, that 3D printing will help erode all barriers to entry in manufacturing and design. It will fundamentally alter the relationships we have with our things and change the way everything is made. Even in mass-produced products the use of 3D printing in its design will accelerate and change the way these things are made. 3D printing is, in my opinion, the third industrial revolution and will gradually turn back the tide of the wasteful mass manufacturing paradigm we are now in. By letting you make a thing exactly as you’d want that thing to be and by letting that thing perfectly fit you it will expose the mass manufactured crap that surrounds us as inferior.

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