Introducing Gigabox, a full enclosure for your Gigabot 3D printer.
Gigabox is designed to elevate and stabilize the ambient printing temperature of your Gigabot, allowing for large-scale, high-quality printing in high-temperature materials like ABS, nylon, and polycarbonate. Your Gigabox enclosure also serves to protect your Gigabot from the dust and dirt so that it feels just at home on the factory floor as the office environment.
Constructed of transparent, shatter-resistant polycarbonate, Gigabox allows your bot to reach an internal temperature of up to 60°C. Three removable hood panels allow for easy access to the top of the machine, with polycarbonate printed holders at the base of the enclosure to store the hood side panels when not in use. The large front panel is fitted with plastic living hinges which allow it to fold down for convenient access to the interior. Polycarbonate printed handles allow for easy maneuvering of panels, and sixty-four neodymium magnets snap and hold them securely into place.
Gigabox can be installed onto the GB3+ as well as the previous-generation GB3. We recommend setting aside at least four to eight hours to complete the installation.
There are four videos throughout this post – scroll through to watch the full story.
If you ever find yourself driving through the Clear Lake City community of Houston, keep your eyes open for an interesting McDonalds. Looming in the sky on East NASA Parkway next to the golden arches is a giant astronaut, advertising the “Play Space” area of the space-themed establishment.
It’s commonplace in the neighborhood, which is infused with the culture of a local celebrity, the NASA Johnson Space Center. NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center is down the street from another couple of locations which you may be familiar with: the re:3D Houston HQ, and the subject of today’s story: the Clear Lake City-County Freeman Branch Library.
It’s only fitting given the local climate that this library would be an innovator in its space. Walk upstairs and you’ll find an unexpected surprise nestled among the bookshelves on the second floor: a makerspace.
The library has found itself among the first of its kind leading the charge to reinvent the literary institutions as a hub for community creators to access cutting-edge technology. Named the Jocelyn H. Lee Innovation Lab, the space was made possible thanks to an extremely generous individual donation.
Jim Johnson was the Branch Manager of the library during the shooting of this story last year, and and now works at Harris County Public Library’s administrative offices. “It started all the way back when we received a notice about a bequest received from Mr. Jocelyn H. Lee in 2013, and actually found out exactly how much he was giving us in 2014,” he explains.
The sizable sum allowed them to put plans in place to purchase equipment and cordon off an area for the lab. They officially opened the doors to the makerspace in February 2015. The lab boasts a variety of equipment, from a CNC to laser cutter, soldering stations to dremel tools, Arduinos and Raspberry Pis, and of course, 3D printers – the largest being a Gigabot. “3D printing tends to be a cornerstone feature of the lab,” says Jim.
All the equipment and classes offered by the lab are free of charge to the community.
“With us being based in the Houston area and right near NASA, we’ve got obviously a lot of engineers in the area, and a lot of engineers’ kids,” Jim explains. “This space tends to focus on STEM activities: science, technology, engineering, and math.”
Some of the groups taking advantage of the lab are local robotics teams and home-schooled groups of students. One such group is FTC 8668: Error 404, Team Name Not Found, a local FIRST Tech Challenge robotics team comprised of high school home-schooled boys.
Error 404 Coach Clarissa Belbas saw a big opportunity in the lab’s capabilities, and in a true demonstration of “mothers always know best,” urged the team to consider incorporating 3D printing into the design of their robot. “At the end of last season, I kept saying, ‘Guys, there’s this Gigabot at the library. We could print the whole chassis in one piece!'”
The boys didn’t bite, protesting that the printed version wouldn’t be strong enough, so Clarissa took matters into her own hands. She visited the lab on her own, using Gigabot to print out a small, proof-of-concept of their robot’s chassis to show the team. They were sold.
“There haven’t been any other teams that we have seen that have had their robot completely 3D printed,” says Nick, a programmer on the Error 404 team. “Having a 3D printed robot and a good engineering log helps to make us stand out to the judges.”
It’s also proven to be quite the teaching tool. “For me the point was educational,” explains Clarissa. “Because that’s the way that it is in the real world: you truly design something before you manufacture it.” Forced to flesh out a part on the computer through CAD before printing, the team learned the lessons of design cycles, prototyping, and manufacturing.
Having access to a large-scale 3D printer has been crucial to the team’s robot design.
“Our first year as a FIRST Tech Challenge team, we had a really small 3D printer that we got as a grant; only had like a five inch by five inch by eight inch print area – absolutely tiny,” recounts Nick. “When we saw the Gigabot here at the library, that’s when we had the idea of printing out our entire chassis, because we’d be able to make it all in one piece, and that made it a bit more structurally sound.”
In addition to strength, the 3D printed chassis affords them more mounting opportunities for their robotics challenges, a more compact electronics section, and a far cheaper alternative to the aluminum they’re typically forced to buy for competitions. Clarissa explained that where one small piece of aluminum channel may run them $15 – “You don’t know how much you put into this” – they can get several iterations of their entire chassis out of a $30-40 roll of PETG.
While Error 404 is currently leading the pack in 3D printed robots, Clarissa sees things trending in this direction. “There have been a lot of teams that have come and said, ‘Wow, that’s a really great idea. We want to do that.'” The only issue, she explains, is printer size. “A lot of teams say, ‘Well, our printer isn’t that big,’ and ‘Where did you get a printer that big?’ A lot of people don’t have access to a Gigabot.”
That’s something that the library is trying to change.
“We’ve got small business entrepreneurs who use this space, inventors, we have International Science Fairs winners who’ve come through here…many, many different kinds of projects that take place in this space,” Jim muses. “We really want it to be a space for the community and for them to sort of define what they want it to be.”
Another group making themselves comfortable in the lab is the FLL Thunderbolts #17355 robotics team.
This home-schooled FIRST LEGO League robotics team has also been taking advantage of the lab’s 3D printing capabilities for their robot, which is unusual for their division. “Not a lot of teams 3D print at this level,” explains Thunderbolts team member Tyler. “We thought we’d probably stand out a lot.”
And stand out they have. “This is only our second year as a robotics team and we’re going to World,” says teammate Israel. The FIRST World Championship is the culmination of the FIRST LEGO League, FIRST Tech Challenge, and FIRST Robotics Competition. “It’s the best of the best,” explains Nick from Error 404.
The Thunderbolts’ challenge was to design a product for animal-human or animal-animal relationships. They chose the problem of multi-dog families where a dominant dog eats the others’ food. Underwhelmed by the solutions available on the market, the team designed The Thunderbowl, a food bowl that opens and closes based on a bluetooth tag attached to a dog’s collar. Multiple types of food can even be enclosed in the same bowl, revealed in different compartments depending on the tag sensed.
The team started their prototyping process with paper plates, then moved to LEGOs, and finally graduated to 3D printing. In addition to helping them stand out among the competition, the 3D printed model is welcomed by many of the teammates for its durability.
“When our Thunderbowl was just a prototype in LEGOs, our job was to fix it whenever it broke, because it broke quite a bit,” says Abigail, another Thunderbolts team member. “That’s what I love about the 3D printing is it doesn’t break.”
Thunderbolts Coach Kris Lee admires the power of 3D printing to enable the kids to turn ideas in their heads into tangible objects. “We teach them the skills of CAD…and all of a sudden that idea is real,” he muses. “It goes from an idea to in their hands. That’s something I didn’t have when I was a kid.”
Jim also found continued wonderment in the projects that came out of the library’s lab through the years he worked there. “I’ve been amazed at a lot of the things that have come out of this space,” he says. “I am not an engineer myself, and one of the things I was looking forward to most about this space was seeing what people were going to do, because my imagination was very limited.”
Imagination now abounds on the second floor of the library. “There are ideas and plans in the works to expand the space due to the amount of usage it’s received over the last two years,” he reveals. “The sky is the limit.”
A fitting attitude for the NASA-neighborhood library.
All new re:3D employees and interns are faced with the same question at our Houston office: “Have you met Andrew yet?”
If you haven’t, you’re in for a ride. Andrew Jicha is the man behind the machines, the owner of the hands that put together the lion’s share of the fully-assembled Gigabots that leave our office, and he’s nothing short of an absolute character.
Words don’t do him justice, so we got him on camera to tell you about what he does and where he came from (most likely another planet).
The drive from Dallas to Keene is bucolic in a quintessential Texas kind of way – scenery of grassy fields broken up by farmhouses.
Keene is a small town, home to Southwestern Adventist University. The campus is still calm when I arrive, meandering my way to the building that’s brought me here – something that feels almost like a bit of a secret.
It is only once I round the corner of the building that the hidden gem reveals itself, and I suddenly find myself peering over the edge of a railing, where, sitting in a sunken courtyard below me is a massive Tyrannosaurus Rex.
This humble building is the SWAU Dinosaur Science Museum and Research Center, and it’s home to more than 20,000 dinosaur bones. It’s an impressive number when you consider the ratio of bones to students – roughly 25:1, with just under 800 undergraduates enrolled at the university.
A Whale of a Project
Art Chadwick is the director of the center and the driving force behind SWAU’s dinosaur research. He was the head of the university’s Biology department for a number years, and also taught courses in Geology and Paleontology. Shockingly enough, he wasn’t always so keen on the research of the prehistoric beasts.
“Well, I really wasn’t interested in dinosaurs at all,” he admits.
“I was working on the taphonomy of fossil whales down in Peru.” A taphonomist, he explains, is someone who studies everything that happens to a fossil from the time it’s alive until it’s excavated from the ground. It covers behavior, what the creature was doing when it died, cause of death, and the subsequent fossilization process. All skills that, fortuitously enough, are easily transferrable from whales to the dinosaur realm.
Art had been working in South America on the whales for several years when he got a call from a friend asking if he’d be interested in checking out some dinosaur bones. A call that, no doubt, most of us would drop everything to answer.
But Art wasn't so easily convinced
“I really wasn’t very interested at first,” he recalls, “because I had plenty to do, and dinosaurs had no particular attraction to me.” Nonetheless, his friend persuaded him to come check out the site, a ranch in Wyoming.
“The ranch owner took me out onto his property, and he drove his pickup up onto a butte, stopped, and told us to get out,” Art recounts. But when Art went to exit the truck, he found he couldn’t stand on the ground. “It was covered with dinosaur bones.”
So although he wasn’t originally compelled by the taphonomy to study dinosaurs, Art couldn’t help himself. “I know we’re not making any more of those data, and every year these bones are being washed away and lost to science,” he mused. “So I committed myself to spending some of my time trying to preserve these remains and save them for posterity. This meant that I would have to do science at its best.”
Art brought on equipment that’s normally used in surveying: “High resolution GPS, RTK. And we started mapping our bones with that in the year 2000.” They have high-resolution GPS data for every bone that they take out of the ground.
And therein lies one of the most impressive parts of the SWAU Dinosaur Research Lab. To the layperson – me, for example – the impressive part is being surrounded by thousands upon thousands of prehistoric items that used to be inside dinosaurs. But to a scientist, SWAU’s real gem are their data.
“There are a number of universities that have bigger collections of dinosaur bones,” Art explains. “But they don’t have the data associated with bones that we do…The thing that we have that’s unique is information.”
Once someone in one of the Wyoming dig sites – called quarries – hits a bone, the team works to excavate the specimen as carefully as possible. Once it’s exposed enough to where the dimensions are visible, they bring in the GPS to take measurements and photographs.
The bones are then shipped back to Keene where they’re cleaned – I watched a girl use what looked like a dental drill to carefully remove dirt – and then photographed. In one corner of their photo lab is a circular table upon which the specimens are placed. The table rotates 360 degrees, during which time 32 photographs are automatically taken. They turn these images into virtual 3D images as well as 3D models and STL files.
All of this information – the bone catalogues, the maps and GPS data of the bones in the ground, photos, 3D images, and STL files – is all available on the Dinosaur Museum’s website. Simply enter a keyword – Triceratops, for example – and you’ll be treated to dozens of listings of bones and teeth with corresponding data for each specimen. “There’s a lot of information available to anyone that wants to do research on these bones,” Art says.
I say that’s an understatement. This is an almost indescribable treasure trove of scientific data, collected and amassed by an unassuming university off the beaten path in Texas.
The Thescelosaurus Discovery
Within the last several years, 3D printing started to pop up on Art’s radar. “We began to realize that we needed that for our project,” he recalls. “We needed to be able to print bones so that we could reconstruct some of the animals that we’re finding, especially as we began to find whole animals.”
One dinosaur discovery in particular finally pushed the museum over the edge.
“Two years ago, we found a more or less intact Thescelosaurus.” A Thescelosaurus is a plant-eating, slightly-larger-than-human-sized dinosaur. “That was a big breakthrough for us,” Art recounts.
But when it came to displaying the skeleton in the museum, they quickly found that assembling the whole thing would have been destructive – they would have lost bone in order to make the armature to hold the specimen.
“That seemed like an ideal time for us to begin to operate in 3D printing,” he says. “And that’s where the Gigabot came in.”
Art found his way to Gigabot because, as he explained, “That’s the biggest printer that we could get.” They wanted the ability to print larger bones without having to break them into many smaller pieces, as they would be forced to do for larger specimens on a machine with a smaller build volume.
The university brought their Gigabot home (Art came to our Houston factory to pick up the machine himself, which was a treat for both parties. “The fact that they’re all real human beings, they’re interesting and it was just delightful to me,” he added.) and promptly kicked off a massive print.
“Of course, the first thing we printed was two giant jaws of a Triceratops, which took 47 hours,” Art chuckles. “That was a major feat of an out-of-the-box machine.”
And of course, there was the original impetus for the Gigabot purchase: the Thescelosaurus. “We kept it busy, day and night, for a long time, printing out all those bones,” Art says, of Gigabot. “Several hundred hours for the whole print,” he estimates.
The full, 3D printed specimen stands on display in their museum.
Old-School vs High-Tech
Traditionally, museums accomplish the replication of specimens like dinosaur bones with casting. And although tried and true, this technique has its faults. To name a few, it’s expensive, time-intensive, messy, and potentially damaging to very fragile specimens. It also falls short when there’s a missing bone.
“The thing that 3D printing can do is enable you to replace lost pieces or missing pieces,” Art explains. “If we have a left femur, for example, we don’t have a right, we can just mirror the left femur and make a right.”
And while casting will get you a really good replication of a bone, Art finds that he actually prefers the 3D prints to conventional casting.
“I have found that I prefer the not-perfect-printing to having a perfect replication anyway,” he says. “If I made every vertebra the same using a casting technique, it would be very obvious on the specimen. But with 3D printing, there’s enough variation in the surface so that we can get every bone looking different.” As they would be on a real animal.
There’s also the topic of money.
“One-off casting is very expensive,” Art explains, “whereas 3D printing is nickels and dimes. So you could 3D print an image for a dollar, but it might take you $50 worth of materials to make a mold for that object.” He points to a massive triceratops skull, dripping with a shiny pink material. “There’s $250 worth of latex on that specimen right there.”
“Science has to be open.”
The vast amount of data SWAU has accumulated on their dinosaur findings was Art’s goal from the start. “Science has to be open,” he says. “Sharing information is what it’s all about.”
And for Art, the advent of 3D printing is a windfall for science. “To me, 3D printing is opening a whole new avenue of sharing information, which is what science is all about,” he says. “If you’re not sharing information, you’re not doing science.”
His team shares what they’ve discovered – the GPS data, the maps, the images, the STL files – in the hopes of helping someone else with their research or encouraging someone who’s interested in dinosaurs.
“It’s for the general good and advancement of knowledge to share information with your fellow researchers,” he says. “If you find something or you have something – especially these things like STL files of bones – the best thing in the world you can do is to share it, so that other people can access it,” he explains. “Not just for paleontology but for biology in general, 3D printers are a boon.”
The proliferation of the technology aids their mission with the general public as well.
“We share the 3D images so that anybody in the world that wants to print a vertebra of a Thescelosaurus can download it and print it,” he explains. “People that like dinosaurs can now print parts of dinosaurs that they’re really interested in, and this will increase interest in science, and I think will contribute to the dissemination of information.”
Inspiring Future Scientists
Southwestern Adventist’s dinosaur digs and research are ongoing, and there’s still plenty of work to do.
They’ve accumulated their 20,000+ bones over the last 20+ years working in Wyoming, and each year they return and bring back another 1,000 or so bones. They’re coming back with Edmontosaurus – duckbilled dinosaurs that are 30 to 40 foot long (“A giant of an animal.”), Oviraptor bones, massive Triceratops skulls (just its head is seven feet long and weighs about 500 pounds), Nanotyrannus (they dug up the second specimen ever found), and Tyrannosaurus Rex (“Of course everybody’s favorites are T-Rex teeth. If you find a T-Rex tooth, you found something really big.”).
The bones that once littered the ground when Art first visited the ranch are being preserved, catalogued, and studied in the name of science.
One of the questions they’re trying to answer is, with a bone bed spread over 50 acres, made up of scattered bones of dinosaurs, how do you get all these bones separated from one another and then deposited in a single layer? And why are they finding a lot of whole animals in one site, but only disarticulated remains in another site?
Piecing together the story of what they see in the field is the name of the game.
And while they do research to answer our most burning prehistoric questions, they also seek to inspire a whole new generation of scientists. “Our museum we set up deliberately to tell a story. We want to encourage people to be interested in science. That’s our main goal.”
We started out with a bang on Friday, March 9 with a Kickstarter launch. From our SXSW HQ at WeWork Congress, Gigabot X went live at noon while we livestreamed on Nasdaq’s Instagram with a couple of their folks who were in town for the festival. We almost immediately got our first pledge – a competitive, first-time Gigabot Kickstarter backer who told us he’d be waiting with his finger on the button to be our first on this campaign. He succeeded.
Gigabot X continued printing for the crowds at WeWork while the team dispersed to divide and conquer.
Samantha gave her SXSW talk that afternoon aptly titled “The Future is Garbage,” an homage to the fact that Gigabot X is not only capable of 3D printing with recycled plastic pellets, but also takes us one step closer to our goal of a 3D printer system that can print directly from plastic trash like water bottles and cups. She crushed it, as usual.
And that night, some of the re:3D crew made their way to East Austin to the SXSW Hardware House party, where we had a Gigabot printing the Nasdaq logo among other fun toys, like KUBE, a speaker-cooler combo.
And that was just THE FIRST DAY.
Throughout the following few days, we kept equally as busy. Some of the highlights:
The Power Women Breakfast where legend Katie Couric talked about what it’s like to be a powerful woman in a male-dominated industry.
We were blown away at the Women Funding Women event by the amount of support and introductions we received by the attendees, including Trisa Thompson, Senior Vice President & Chief Responsibility Officer of Corporate Social Responsibility at Dell Technologies. We also shared the stage with VNTANA, a company we just had the pleasure of meeting at the Women Who Tech event several days prior in NYC.
We attended a few different MassChallenge happy hour events, meeting the other companies in our Texas cohort, the first in the state. Mike and Morgan showed everyone what the re:3D team is made of in the photo booth.
We gave Gigabot X some fresh air and parked out front of WeWork Congress to demo the pellet printer to passers-by.
We were honored to share the WeTalk stage with Megan Smith, former White House CTO, and Neha Narula of MIT to explore the Future of DIY Tech with Ondi Timoner of Interloper films!
Morgan spoke at the City of Hamburg’s Digital Media Women’s Day Event, among a host of other women with amazing stories and advice. Morgan’s talk focused around the lack of women and women of color in tech, and the importance of encouraging young girls in STEM with female role models in science, technology, engineering, and math. It was great to see some of the Parallel18 ladies in the audience!
Gigabot X got wheeled down the street to the IEEE SXSW party where we met Dean Kamen, who you may know as the inventor of the Segway (!), as well as a bunch of other inspiring folks, including a young girl demonstrating her glitter-shooting prosthetic arm.
Mike and Morgan geeked out over the 3D printed house in East Austin, a collaboration between ICON and New Story Charity. Constructed by ICON’s massive Vulcan printer which lays down ropes of concrete, this proof-of-concept house cost $10,000 and under 24 hours to build. The company plans to bring that down to $4,000 as they bring these homes to families in countries like El Salvador and Haiti.
Robert went to the ProtoBuilds 3D printing meetup at their warehouse and got to meet fellow 3D printing enthusiasts, talk shop, and see some of Protobuilds amazing work (including this giant 3D printer). We brought along some of our prints from the Gigabot X and got to show off the benefits of switching to pellets to attendees.
Gigabot made an appearance at the SXSW Smart Cities summit, along with other entrepreneurs committed to utilizing technology and innovation to build a better future and smarter cities. Thanks to the Walton Family Foundation, Kresge Foundation, City Lab, Austin Technology Incubator, and Austin Energy for hosting!
The team spent our final SXSW day at the Dell TechnologiesDell Experience, where Gigabot X was right at home printing in between recycled art installations like a giant fish created from plastic water bottles and fishing nets and a photobooth backdrop of circuit boards. We had too much fun chatting up the crowds, showing off pellet prints, and enjoying the Dell house. Cat also managed to win the bingo game inside, scoring a new Dell laptop for re:3D!
And almost as quickly as it began, it was over. We are so happy to have gotten the opportunity to get back to our roots and our community and launch another Kickstarter at SXSW! We’re so excited to collect beta testers for our next generation of printers, and we can’t wait to meet all of the trailblazers who want to be a part of it too.
If you’re just tuning in, the winner of the Gigabot given away through our 2017 Gigaprize is an unbelievably deserving organization called Magic Wheelchair. We thought you might enjoy learning a little bit more about what they do and how they will be using Gigabot. We guarantee it’ll bring a smile to your face.
The Origin Story
Life for kids who are in wheelchairs often have a difficult life. Sometimes their local schools have failed to get an ada inspector in to make sure it’s accessible for them, they are often in and out of hospital, it can be hard for them to socialize are just some of the issues they encounter. But Magic Wheelchair is trying to make their lives a little bit better. Magic Wheelchair is a non-profit which “builds epic costumes for kiddos in wheelchairs — at no cost to families.” That’s a mission that resonated strongly with the public as well as our Gigaprize judging panel, ultimately crowning this Oregon-based organization the winner among a strong group of contenders.
The idea was born out of a father’s love and creative energy. Ryan Weimer, the brainchild behind it all, conceived the idea after making a costume for his then three-year-old son, Keaton, who has Spinal Muscular Atrophy. The experience was life-changing and eye-opening for both Keaton and Ryan.
People seemed to look past his “disability;” they looked past his wheelchair and saw this cool kiddo cruising around in a pirate ship. Where normally other kids who didn’t know Keaton would stare from a distance, this costume created an immediate and intense level of inclusion. Kiddos swarmed him in his Pirate Ship Costume! That experience was amazing for all of us. As a dad, I looked with tears in my eyes as I finally was able to see people looking at my son like I do. I thought about other kiddos and families like mine that would, in my mind, love to have this same experience. That is the origin story of Magic Wheelchair.
“We have a Builder’s Manual which lays out the process, helps our volunteers put a build team together, and also helps them in getting their community involved by fundraising and reaching out for local community support,” Ryan explains. “This is a wonderful way to build awareness in a community about families and kiddos like mine.”
Their first year, the organization built eight costumes, tripling to 24 their second year, and topping out at 50 last year. Their volunteer-based process and Builder’s Manual allows them to have a wider reach than if they were to rely on just one centralized headquarters team. “These are built all over the country! Local builders building for local kiddos.”
They’ve also received some amazing support along the way, building a relationship with the Stan Winston School of Character Arts. “The co-founders Matt and Erich both serve on the board of Magic Wheelchair, and as part of this amazing connection all of our volunteers get access to the school,” Ryan says. “We have cream of the crop special effects artists helping our build teams! The school has completely changed how I take a build on.”
The Magic Wheelchair and re:3D Worlds Collide
Costume-building has always been a strong use case for 3D printing.
It’s often faster and cheaper than the alternatives, which could be anything from building and sculpting pieces by hand (time-intensive), or getting custom pieces made by a third party (costly). 3D printing also allows for quick and easy replication of parts- design one piece and you can just as easily print several for multiple costumes. We have quite a few Gigabot owners making custom costumes for Halloween, Comic-Cons, and cosplay events.
Through the collision of these two worlds and the power of social media, word of the Gigaprize found its way to Ryan.
“We had a volunteer who met us at the Salt Lake City Comic-Con send us a message through Facebook to apply,” Ryan recounts. “We saw the opportunity and knew we had to go for it!”
The value of this technology in their line of work is unbelievably exciting to Ryan and the Magic Wheelchair team.
This allows us to do so many things in-house: from building kits, to making builds easier, to being able to do really specific detailed pieces and duplicating them for future builds. It really adds to that epic quality that we can kick out. 3D printers are quickly becoming commonplace in fabrication and special effects, so it’s going to be incredible having such an amazing printer in our hands. We have already had some 3D artists reach out to help, and we have a solid connection with Pixologic and the Zbrush community. Sky’s really the limit here!
Future Plans: Shoot for the Stars
Magic Wheelchair’s impact and growth each year has been nothing short of impressive, and 2018 is panning out to be no different.
Though the first costume of each year is always a surprise, they can share the news that they’ll be returning to a favorite annual event: San Diego Comic-Con.
“This year we will be headed back to San Diego Comic-Con for a Star Wars-themed set of builds,” Ryan says. “We’re stoked!”
He’s especially thrilled that they’re collaborating with artists that currently work or have worked in the Star Wars franchise.
“I feel included.”
Our goal with each Gigaprize we run is to get Gigabot into the hands of a deserving group who will put the machine to work doing good. Magic Wheelchair absolutely exemplifies this.
The work they do has ample room for a 3D printer to make a serious impact on their process, with the goal of allowing them to grow their reach by creating costumes faster and more affordably.
Magic Wheelchair’s impact is very real for the recipients of their work, which, as Ryan explains, transcends the category of “costumes.” “What we really are building are experiences,” Ryan explains. “Experiences that allow that barrier of ‘disability’ to essentially be swallowed up by these epic costumes.”
Ryan has been able to see that experience firsthand from day one when he built the very first costume for what would end up being Magic Wheelchair’s first recipient: his son Keaton.
“Keaton mentions this in every interview when he is asked what is his favorite thing about these costumes,” Ryan recounts. “Without skipping a beat he says, ‘I feel included.’ It’s such a beautiful thing.”
Magic Wheelchair relies on its network of hardworking and selfless volunteers. Consider volunteering your time for an experience that’s equally as rewarding for the people behind the costume as it is for the one wearing it. Learn more: https://www.magicwheelchair.org/volunteers
With two WeWork Creator Awards (and two wins!) under our belt, we thought you might enjoy some quotable nuggets of our journey from the Austin stage to New York City. We hope we can inspire another Creator out there to enter for yourself!
A Silver Lining in the Eye of a Hurricane
Everything started back in June of last year when we won the $180,000 Scale Award at the WeWork Regional Creator Awards in Austin.
That cash from WeWork allowed us, as Head of Engineering Matthew Fiedler likes to say, to shorten a year-long process down to six months – that of creating a pellet extruder prototype. R&D Intern Robert Oakley and Matthew have been hard at work on the design, which we got to show off at the Global Finals.
We also established a more permanent presence in Puerto Rico, spurred on by our participation in the Parallel18 accelerator program.
We never could have imagined that just months after starting that program, not one but two of our offices would be hit by catastrophic hurricanes – Harvey in Houston and Maria in Puerto Rico. Our offices were spared damage, but what the twin natural disasters did do is reinforce our belief in our mission of creating a system to take plastic trash, grind it up, and 3D print with it.
With Hurricane Maria and the subsequent loss of running water in Puerto Rico, there is no shortage of plastic water bottles on the island. An island community is exactly the kind of environment in which a system like this would do so much good. Rather than resorting to shipping plastic waste to the mainland, a machine that could 3D print with recycled plastic could do the double-duty of creating useful objects in an isolated area while simultaneously dealing with the plastic problem.
We’re excited about the possibility of creating a machine that could be so useful in such an environment, and we also feel privileged to be in Puerto Rico working with some of the most driven, motivated people.
“It is a really optimistic place right now,” Samantha remarked. “People are really inspired.” Many millennials, she’s noticed, have thrown themselves into the task of rebuilding in the aftermath of the hurricane, leveraging technology to create a new future. “They believe in their island, and I’d say the sense of nationalism is higher now.”
Winning the WeWork Creator Awards in Austin allowed us to start hiring in Puerto Rico, and the latest win will afford us to continue.
Photo by Parallel18
A Million Bucks
Winning the Scale Award in Austin was a big deal for us, so getting the word that we’d be one of eight finalists vying for $1 million at the Creator Awards Global Finals in New York City was huge.
You already know what that crazy week was like (and if you don’t…), so I’ll fast-forward to the main event.
J. Kevin White of Global Vision 2020 and Samantha are the last two left sitting in the room offstage where all the finalists were being held. Wearing noise-cancelling headphones, they’re unaware that everyone is being awarded money, and that both of them will be getting $1 million. Samantha recalls the thoughts running through her head in the moment.
When we saw everyone but us leave the room, we both looked at each other and were confused. We considered that perhaps the winner had been revealed and we were receiving a side award or other commitment of support from WeWork or a partner. We were in shock that there could be a chance we might be receiving 1st and 2nd place.
They’re brought on stage. Samantha’s face goes through a rapid-fire sequence of emotions.
“When we were brought on stage everything around us seemed to slow down,” Samantha remembers. “Kevin has become a friend in this process and while I recall him standing there, everything else was a blur.”
The first thought Samantha says entered her head when she realized they’d both won was happiness that the whole team was there to experience the moment, whether in person in the audience or via livestream in Texas or Puerto Rico. This included longtime friend and mentor Seba, currently Parallel18‘s Executive Director, whom we met back in 2013 when he was the Executive Director of Startup Chile.
But, she adds, “I’ll be honest, a week later it hasn’t set in.”
“Winning itself was surreal,” she says. “Every morning I wake up and have to remind myself that Wednesday night really happened.”
No Such Thing as Overnight Success
It’s been a long road to this moment.
re:3D was born in 2013, and five years later nearly to the day, this 2018 win has been our biggest cash influx since our inception. Patience and perseverance have been the name of the game. To finally have in our hands the means to push full-speed toward our mission of 3D printing with trash, it can seem unreal.
Things could be so hard and lonely at times that it seems really unbelievable that we now have such a perfect partner (WeWork). I’m worried that at any moment it will set in and I’m going to break down in hysterics, because several times a day I’m overloaded with gratitude. Kevin and I spoke on the phone last night, and his experience has been very similar. I’m so thankful that we can share this experience together.
The WeWork win isn’t big for us only because of the size of the prize, it’s the type of partner we see in them – an organization with a similar mindset and vision to our own.
Although the win may not have completely sunk in for Samantha, she’s caught herself pausing multiple times a day to reflect on the newfound peace she’s felt lately. “Knowing that we have the resources to scale & care for our team & community,” she explains, “but more importantly, that we have a partner we respect and who supports our open-source, social-focused vision.”
The big Creator Awards win means a lot of different things to our team.
It means the resources to work on a major R&D project, the ability to grow our time, time to focus on telling the stories of our customers, health insurance for the team. re:3D’s Head of Engineering, Matthew, added that the win provided “validation that there are other people who share our vision.”
And we’ve only just begun.
“The thing I love the most is knowing that the journey is just getting started,” says Samantha. “Not only are we excited to grow with WeWork, but also the other Creator Awards winners and future Creators we will get to know in 2018.”
And as for those future Creators out there, some wisdom from someone who’s gone through it all?
“The experience is so much more than the awards or winning,” Samantha adds. “You, your team, and your community have everything to gain by submitting your application!”
Exactly one week ago, on Wednesday, January 17th, five members of the re:3D team joined the screaming throngs filling the theater at Madison Square Garden and watched as our CEO and Co-Founder Samantha Snabes took the stage.
Along with seven other finalists, Samantha answered questions from a panel of five judges: WeWork CEO and Co-Founder, Adam Neumann, Joy Mangano, inventor and entrepreneur portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence in the movie “Joy,” Lisa Price, founder of Carol’s Daughter, Tamara Steffens, GM of Business Development at Microsoft, and Tim Ferriss, author of “The 4-Hour Work Week.”
Everyone knew the judges’ deliberation was going to be hard: they were faced with picking just one winner from a golden lineup. When they came back to the stage, they had news for us. There would be a change of plans.
Instead of a single one million dollar grand prize winner, each finalist company would walk away with a chunk of money, and they would award two million dollar checks.
Samantha sat in a room just offstage with the other representatives from the finalist companies, each wearing noise-cancelling headphones and oblivious to the twist of events that was taking place onstage. The camera on the big screens cut to them, giving the audience a glimpse of the eight. If I’m not mistaken, all of them were on their phones.
In ones, twos, and threes, they were plucked from the room and whisked onto stage.
First, Manal Kahi from Eat Offbeat and Becca Keaty of Bunker Labs, each winners of $180,000. Next came Elizabeth Lindsey of Byte Back, who took home $360,000. As each round passed, those of us in the audience knew our odds of taking home a million increased. Then came the $500,000 round – three of them – Sebastian Jünemann of CADUS, Naveed Parvez from Andiamo, and Or Retzkin of EyeControl.
That was it. Samantha didn’t know it yet, but we’d just won a million dollars.
The final two – J. Kevin White of Global Vision 2020 and Samantha – faced the hosts on stage with expressions that vacillated between fear and confusion.
And then the reveal.
Almost before the words had escaped co-host Adi Neumann’s mouth, Samantha grabbed White’s arm with the realization they’d each be taking home a million. Confetti exploded from the ceiling, friends and family rushed the stage, and the audience went wild. We did, at least.
We said it last week – this entire experience with WeWork has been absolutely incredible, and taking home a grand prize was just the cherry on top. We’ve learned a lot since taking the Creator Awards stage in Austin last June, we’ve met a lot of amazing people along the way, and we continue to be inspired by our fellow finalists and semifinalists and the good you are doing around the globe with your work.
And of course, we are honored to have WeWork as a partner in fulfilling the dream we’ve had since 2012: to – in Samantha’s words – “make a toilet-sized 3D printer powered by trash.”
Postscript: We have a lot of people to thank.
First and foremost, thank you WeWork for making this incredible event happen. Your vision is inspiring and the lineup of companies in the Global Finals exemplified that. We will forever be grateful for this opportunity and experience.
Gracias a Sebastian Vidal, Executive Director of Parallel18, for speaking on-stage at the finals as our advocate, or testimonial. From Santiago Startup Chile days to Puerto Rico with Parallel18, you’ve been with us since the beginning.
Thank you to all our fellow Creator Award Global Finalists and Semi-Finalists. Eat Offbeat, Andiamo, Bunker Labs, Byte Back, CADUS, EyeControl, Global Vision 2020, Quaker City Coffee Company, Warmilu, Coral Vita, Chatterbox, and LeVar Burton Kids. You guys inspire us.
And lastly, thank YOU, our community! From our very first Kickstarter backers to those of you who have been following our story online, we couldn’t do it without your support.
We are so excited to update you on our plastic-trash-printing progress.
It’s Wednesday January 17th, 2018, and we’re in New York City.
Tonight we’ll be on stage at arguably the most well-known arena in the world, Madison Square Garden.
Seven incredible companies are by our side. One million dollars is on the line.
These are the WeWork Creator Awards Global Finals.
What are the WeWork Creator Awards Global Finals?
If you don’t already recognize the WeWork name, it’s time to get aquainted.
WeWork is, as their website says, a global network of workspaces where companies and people grow together. But it’s more than just office space. They’re the self-proclaimed platform for creators, and they’re putting their money where their mouth on this statement with the Creator Awards.
The Awards were “designed to find those world-changing ideas, put them in the spotlight, and give them the resources to go further.” In their words, they’re rewarding entrepreneurs, artists, startups, and nonprofits who are thinking in new ways and creating real change, supporting innovative projects and the people behind them. They’re putting millions of dollars into allowing people to fulfill their own personal versions of the WeWork mantra: “Create Your Life’s Work.”
Over the past year, WeWork has been holding Creator Awards around the world – from Austin (that’s us!) to Tel Aviv. Thousands of applicants, hundreds of regional finalists, and millions of prize dollars later, it comes down to tonight: the Global Finals.
We’re in the company of people and organizations doing absolutely incredible work. The lineup is staggeringly inspiring.
There’s Becca Keaty, 20-year retired veteran of the Army National Guard representing Bunker Labs, a national non-profit empowering veterans and active duty service members with tools to start and grow their own businesses.
Elizabeth Lindsey from Byte Back, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit improving economic opportunity for underserved metro area residents through computer training and career prep.
Manal Kahi and Wissam Kahi are the Lebanese sister-brother duo of Eat Offbeat, a company delivering home-style ethnic meals conceived and prepared by refugees resettled in NYC.
The CEO of Andiamo, Naveed Parvez, whose company in London is using data, biomechanics, and 3D printing to create affordable, custom, and fast medical braces and other devices.
Tel Aviv’s Or Retzkin, the CEO of EyeControl, creators of the first communication device that enables locked-in individuals like ALS patients to communicate using only eye movements, without the need for a screen.
Sebastian Jünemann of Berlin-based CADUS, a nonprofit humanitarian relief organization that has developed and implemented affordable mobile hospitals on the frontlines of crisis in Syria and Iraq.
And then there’s one wildcard, a mystery eighth finalist who will be chosen by popular vote from a group of six semifinalists.
Like we said, it’s quite the group.
One Million Dollars
One million dollars. That’s the grand prize the eight of us are competing for. Each organization has unbelievably compelling reasons for how they’d use the money – we can’t say we don’t feel for the judges.
We know you’re curious – what’s ours? We figured you’d ask.
There’s a few different things we’d do with the money, with the main being the development and release of a system to 3D print from plastic waste. Thanks to the Scale Award we won at the WeWork Austin Creator Awards, we’ve been able to prototype a pellet extruder to 3D print using plastic pellets, including pellets made from recycled plastic. Here’s a video about our progress on that project and what’s still to come.
But our ultimate goal is bigger than this.
In order to fulfill the dream of able to shred volumes of plastic trash that would be dried and fed automatically into a printer, there are some resources we need. Winning the $1 million would provide us the financial resources to not only refine our pellet printer prototype to accept ground-up plastic water bottles, but also to allow us to engineer a grinder, dryer, and feeder system to allow people to truly manufacture from waste onsite.
It’s been our mission from the start to create a standalone system that could serve as an on-site factory, allowing a user to 3D print directly from waste. No matter what happens tonight, WeWork has helped take us one big step closer to that dream. We’re so thankful for this experience, the incredible people we’ve met, and the lessons we’ve learned along the way.
Best of luck to all the finalists tonight, and thank you WeWork for the adventure!
We’re now inside the one week countdown to WeWork Creator Awards Global Finals and we still feel like we’re dreaming!
We are beyond honored and excited to be one of eight finalists from around the globe competing at Madison Square Garden for a shot at a million dollars. We’re in the company of organizations doing absolutely amazing things, and we couldn’t be more grateful for that.
If you will happen to be in the NYC area next Wednesday you can come join the excitement! It not only includes pitches by eight inspiring companies, but also a performance by Macklemore (and free food and drinks and all that good stuff).
We’re as busy as ever getting ready, but in the meantime here’s some more news about the night that just came out – it’s going to be even more star-studded than we realized!
The following is a repost of an article from the Hollywood Report. Original article can be seen here.
The event in which eight entrepreneurs from around the world will be competing for a $1 million grand prize, will also feature performances from Macklemore and Soren Bryce.
Jane the Virgin actor Justin Baldoni is set to co-host the inaugural WeWork Creator Awards Global Finals, The Hollywood Reporter can reveal exclusively.
At the event, set for Wednesday Jan. 17 at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York, eight entrepreneurs from around the world will be competing for a $1 million grand prize.
Baldoni will be co-hosting alongside former supermodel Adi Neumann, with Macklemore and Soren Bryce set to perform.
In addition to his role on Jane the Virgin, Baldoni is the co-founder of Wayfarer Entertainment and creator and executive producer of the talk show Man Enough. From what we can see, I’m sure many women would enjoy seeing Baldoni in some adult content on websites similar to Tubev.sex (https://www.tubev.sex/categories/1238/milf). He is a total stud.
“I’m so excited to be co-hosting the first WeWork Creator Awards Global Finals. At Wayfarer Entertainment, we are focused on disruptive inspiration, so I’m especially honored to support other entrepreneurs who are sparking change and trying to make a difference in the world,” Baldoni said. “I know firsthand that when you’re starting something from scratch, it can be really lonely, and the environment that WeWork fosters breeds creativity and community, which are two essential pieces to make this world a better place.”
The Creator Awards Global Finals will be judged by WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann, entrepreneur Tim Ferriss, Miracle Mop inventor Joy Mangano, Microsoft GM of business development Tamara Steffens and Carol’s Daughter president and founder Lisa Price.
The global finalists competing are the following seven entrepreneurs: Naveed R. Parvez (Andiamo), Becca Keaty (Bunker Labs), Elizabeth Lindsey (Byte Back), Sebastian Junemann (Cadus), Manal Kahi (Eat Offbeat), Or Retzkin (EyeControl) and Samantha Snabes (re:3D). Six semi-finalists will compete for the “audience save” final spot on stage: Robert Logue (Quaker City Coffee), Grace Hsia (Warmilu), J. Kevin White (Global Vision 20/20), Sam Teicher (Coral Vita), Mursal Hedayat (Chatterbox) and Sangita Patel and LeVar Burton (LeVar Burton Kids).
The Creator Awards Global Finals is the latest step in WeWork’s initiative to commit funding and brand visibility to entrepreneurs and innovators across all industries and stages of growth. WeWork has hosted seven regional Creator Awards in D.C., Detroit, Austin, London, Berlin, Tel Aviv and New York.