Meet: Andrew

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).

Without further ado, Andrew.

Prehistoric Preservation: 3D Printing Dinosaur Bones at SWAU

A Hidden Gem in Keene

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.”

Fossil Excavation

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.” 

 

SXSW 2018 Highlights

As usual, SXSW 2018 was an absolute whirlwind!

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.

Cat & Samantha enjoyed the rooftop views and meeting influencers in tech during Women@Austin thanks to True Wealth Ventures and Jan Ryan.

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!

Samantha and Morgan hit up Capital Factory for the Bunker Labs Bunker Brews event for veteran business owners. Samantha went up for a quick lightning pitch, along with our friends from BLNDED Media, DIUX, and Think & Zoom.

The team spent our final SXSW day at the Dell Technologies Dell 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.

 

All About Our 2017 Gigaprize Winner: Magic Wheelchair

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.

Magic Wheelchair was born.

The Process

Magic Wheelchair works with a network of country-wide volunteers which form local teams of builders to make the magic happen.

“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.

Last year they unveiled five Justice League-themed costumes on stage there with none other than Adam Savage. The segment is featured on Adam Savage’s Tested, Savage’s new project with old partner-in-crime Jamie Hyneman. If you’re having trouble placing their names, does Mythbusters ring a bell?

“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

Lessons from Two WeWork Creator Awards Wins

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!

 

Photo by Moyo
melements.me / @moyo3k
©2017

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?

“APPLY!”

“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!”

There’s nothing to lose.

 

                       Photo by WeWork

WeWork Gave Us a Million Dollars

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.

Thank you to all the people and organizations who have supported us along the way and made our journey to last night’s stage possible: Kickstarter, Startup Chile, Unreasonable Institute, Bridge Community, Parallel18, Bunker Labs, Tom Chi, Pascal Finette, Wevolver, IEEE N3XT, and more.

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.

Photos from WeWork

Pitching for a Circular Economy: What We’d Do With a Million Dollars From WeWork

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.

The Finalists

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!

WeWork Creator Awards – Hollywood Reporter Article

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).

Reserve your seat here: we.co/globalfinals

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.

A Huge New Office for Huge 3D Printers

As you may be aware of by now, the re:3D Houston HQ moved last year, upgrading from a humble 2,700 square feet to a much-needed 7,000. We did a post on the new space’s specs when we were first moving in, but we thought you would appreciate a check-in now that we’re about half a year in to our new home.

If you haven’t already seen it, we did a short video on the new office and what it means to our team. Give it a watch for a visual tour of the space and some of our Houston team sharing their excitement about the newfound elbow room.

The extra 4,000+ square feet are an absolute joy to our Houston team. With the extra space has come new machinery (namely the beastly Hurco CNC seen over Steve’s shoulder in the machining room), large expanses of shelving perfect for storing more Gigabot prebuilds, and dedicated space for different departments so everyone has room to spread out.

But as much as our team can’t believe how we made it work for so long in our previous, sometimes-too-cozy office, we’re grateful for that space and the lessons it taught us.

As Matthew explained, a small space can do wonders for instilling efficiency in an organization. We became a well-oiled machine and a stronger team thanks to our time there, and those lessons will follow us to any future space we find ourselves in. Not to mention we are so appreciative of everything the new space affords us.

The extra shelving allows us get more prebuilds made and ready to go, which, Tammie explains, allows us to get Gigabots out the door faster. She reckons everything’s going out smoother because of that.

Our dedicated R&D space means engineering projects move quicker and new products can hit our store faster. (A couple exciting ones are just on the horizon – stay tuned.) The on-site machining room (and huge new CNC mill) factors into this as well. R&D projects can move forward faster when the necessary parts are milled in the room just next door, and turnaround time on new iterations can be measured in minutes instead of days or weeks.

And at the front of it all, a space to showcase what’s most important to us: the different ways in which others are using Gigabot.

The showroom, as we’re calling it, will be the home to a variety of projects enabled by Gigabot, generously provided to us by Gigabot owners from around the world. Our intent is to open the space to the public so people can see what large scale 3D printing allows different organizations to do, and also to educate. We are working on building a dedicated teaching & training space into one section of the showroom, specifically for the public and for customers.

We’re incredibly thankful to be where we are today, and we will always remember where we came from and will be forever grateful for the lessons we learned there. We hope to see some of you at the new space!

Gigaprize 2017

The 2017 Gigaprize is open! Read on to learn what the competition is all about and how you enter.

 

Our favorite part about the work we do at re:3D is the doors it opens for others. A 3D printer can help organizations design better products, cut costs, allowthem to manufacture their goods more efficiently, reduce their time to market. It can spell the difference, as a business, between being able to make a product and not.

As a 3D printer manufacturer, our goal is to make this technology available to as many people as possible so that its enabling potential can be used for good around the globe.

Part of the way we do this is by dedicating ourselves to our mission of creating large-scale 3D printers at an affordable price – we’re always looking for ways to up our quality while keeping costs low for our customers. The other way we do this is through the Gigaprize.

The Gigaprize is a giveaway competition we run: for every 100 Gigabots we sell, we give one away to an organization that will be using it for good.

This is our way of supporting others with social good missions who may not otherwise have the means to do what Gigabot will enable.

The competition is simple: make a video explaining how you or your organization would use Gigabot. What would the technology enable you to do? What would it mean for your company and its mission? What impact would it have on your community? Don’t worry about production quality – you can shoot the video on a cell phone – we’re interested in what you’re saying, not how you look while you’re doing it.

Submit the video through the Facebook contest submission page by December 25th and stay tuned for when we announce the winner, as chosen by a panel of judges, on New Year’s Eve.

Past winners of the Gigaprize include the Tunapanda Institute in Nairobi, Kenya and Good Works Studio in Houston, Texas. Tunapanda is a non-profit that runs a Nairobi-based school training young people in technology, design, and business skills, with a focus on applying disruptive technologies like 3D printing and wireless networking to solving local problems. Good Works Studio is a two-man design firm creating products to better the lives of families living in refugee camps.