Open House #2 at The 3D Printing Store

A few weeks ago I met with Debra Wilcox, Principal of The 3D Printing Store in Denver, Colorado. We talked about a lot, because at least two interesting 3D printing-related things happen everyday. Of particular note, though, was the huge crowd that showed up at the first open house at T3DPS. So many people in fact, that Debra decided to host another, and I was able to attend this time!

Thankfully for me, someone not built for crowds, it was a bit less packed this time, though still a great turnout. Again, there were people of all ages, and those that were familiar and unfamiliar with 3D printing, ogling the printers.

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A five-link chain was just finishing up on one of the Makerbot Replicator 2s when I arrived, so I eyed that while listening to one of the employees — whose name I didn’t catch — explain fused deposition modeling to a couple that thought it was magic. They weren’t far off.

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When the totally functional chain was complete, I wandered over to the Stratasys uPrint because the crowd around the 3D scanner was too thick to see through.

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At the uPrint I met Michael Sickinger, Account Executive of Phoenix Analysis & Design Technologies; he’s the guy that sold T3DPS the uPrint. Mostly we discussed how the mind numbing amount of patents that Stratasys holds allows their printers to deliver a level of quality that others cannot, and how the merger with Objet means he’ll now be selling the multi-material Connex line as well. After the snowflakes pictured above came out, he started the uPrint on a wrench.

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We chatted a bit more about how all of his clients are making money with their printers; whether they’re leasing or buying, as long as they push ideas through the printers, they’re money machines. One of his customers is even using the uPrint to produce CNC machines! Michael had to go teach a class, so I made my way over to a bookcase of stuff to play with.

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The cube gear is especially neat, but I really liked the clips and the zipper.

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Although, the bottle openers and nuts and bolts were pretty rad too.

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Some space then cleared by the other Replicator 2, and there I met Sayre Blake, one of the Designers of T3DPS. He was demonstrating how easy to use Makerware is, and how precise the Replicator 2 can be.

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That figurine was printed with layer heights of 0.05mm! Those lines you see aren’t layers; they’re the polygons from the digital model. Sayre is the guy to go to if you need something printed but don’t have a digital file. He models in Blender, because not only is it free, but it’s also powerful and fairly easy to use. He’s also pretty good with the hardware.

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Here he’s leveling the build platform with the Interactive Build Plate Levelling – Print Aid from Thingiverse. Handy! Finally the crowd thinned around the scanner, so I seized the opportunity to get a peek.

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There I spoke with Eric Maurino, a sales rep of Red Rocks Product Development, who was showing off the HDI Blitz 3D Scanner that uses white light projection; it’s controlled by FlexScan software that also automatically turns the table as necessary to create the appropriate overlap, which is difficult to do manually. Evan Fader, Western Regional Manager of Geomagic (recently acquired by 3D Systems), then explained that their Spark software could manipulate the digital versions of 3D scanned objects. So if a part that’s scanned doesn’t quite print like you want, it’s easily modified to your liking.

Before I left, I said goodbye to Debra. She related that “The best part of these events is the creativity that is generated. With every conversation I hear about someone’s idea for a print that I had not thought of. The possibilities are boundless.” She also told me that they’ll be hosting events with Tentiko, a craft experience company, and they sound fun. The 3D Printing Store is setup to make birthday parties, wedding showers, bachelor parties, and any other event a 3D experience, and really, your friends will find it as awesome as you do. And if they don’t, more 3D printed party favors for you!