The Mannequin Challenge

The Greneker office strikes me as a place you wouldn’t want to be stuck wandering at night, what with the bodies lurking around each corner. I scheduled my visit for early afternoon.

Greneker is a mannequin manufacturer based in Los Angeles, California. They’ve worked to stay cutting-edge in their industry since they started in 1934, always keeping pace with the latest groundbreaking materials and manufacturing methods, like moving from plaster to fiberglass around World War II.

They’re proving that even an entrenched player in the game isn’t too old to learn new tricks: their latest foray is into the worlds of digital and 3D printing.

Steve Beckman is President & COO at Greneker, and he’s been a part of the evolution of the company over the last 2+ decades as they’ve set themselves apart in their industry.

When I started with this business, we would get together as a group, we would look at the trends in the marketplace, and we would develop a line based on what we saw happening in the marketplace at that time.” It was a big gamble – the process was both costly and time-intensive – but that was just business as usual for them. “That was done with clay sculpting, so we would start with armatures and clay, go through the process ourselves, create an entire line of mannequins, and really just kind of rolled the dice and hope that it would sell to that market.”

Whereas they began by working independently from apparel manufacturers, Greneker found themselves doing more and more custom work for specific clients. They found their niches in the athletic wear and plus size markets, and working with big-name clients like Under Armour and Adidas in the clay design process provided its own set of challenges.

“It was a very long process to develop a line of custom mannequins,” Steve explains. “We would have to spend a great deal of time upfront with a client trying to figure out what they were looking for, what the poses were, what the dimensions were, what sizes these pieces were. The armatures would be set up by hand, the sculpting would be done by hand in clay. It would require several visits of the client on premises before we got an approval to move into the molding process to begin production.”

When working with athletic apparel clients, the challenges multiplied. As they started to get into sports-specific activities, posing came to be of utmost importance. “The poses are either accurate or they’re inaccurate,” Steve says. “If you try and put a golf mannequin in a golf shop and he is not in the proper position, the mannequin will be ripped apart by patrons.”

If you want to talk with someone about whether Greneker is in fact a creepy place to be stuck at night, Daniel Stocks is your man. As Senior Sculptor at Greneker – or Sculptor Extraordinaire, as Steve tended to refer to him – he’s the one responsible for following through on all those client requests.

“A lot of the time I would work late at night making all these adjustments and changes while the people are in town so that they [could] see it the next day,” Daniel recounts. And that was after starting from scratch on the figure: constructing a metal armature and building up the clay by hand.

True to their trailblazing past, Greneker began searching for ways to update their process and make themselves more efficient.

“We started to look at digital as a way of creating these pieces, and creating them precisely and accurately,” Steve recounts. “We’ve now moved from clay sculpting to everything being 3D printed, which has helped us in a myriad of ways.”

The 3D Printed Mannequin Challenge

Greneker dipped their toe into 3D printing with a smaller-scale CubeX and quickly realized the potential of the technology.

“We felt as a company that this was the direction that we needed to take, and we needed to go full steam ahead before some of our competitors became aware of the technology and started utilizing it,” Steve shares. They wanted to gain the competitive advantage before others caught wind of what they were doing. “And that’s one of the things we have done, we’ve positioned ourselves as the experts in this type of mannequin design.”

They purchased a few other small 3D printers, and then Daniel began the hunt for a large-scale printer with the right price tag. He came across Gigabot.

“Well, there was really nothing else on the market within a reasonable price point that would make pieces big enough for a full body,” Daniel muses.

“We selected the printer based on, again, the human body,” Steve explains. “We’re a mannequin manufacturer. We wanted larger printers to be able to print torsos and legs.” Their 3D printer arsenal includes a range of machines, from small-scale printers good for the details on hands and faces, up to the large size of Gigabot for cranking out large pieces.

“The challenge for us and my challenge to Daniel was to get a full-sized mannequin printed in one day,” Steve smiles. “It takes about 250 hours of print time to print a mannequin. In order to print it in one day, it was going to take a bunch of machines.”

Take a stroll through their office and you’ll come across the realization of this dream: a separate room tucked within their main sculpting area which they built specifically for 3D printing. “The Gigabots work fantastic for large-sized pieces, so we bought a bunch of them,” Steve recounts. Greneker is now up to four Gigabots – stacked two-by-two and suspended from the ceiling – which they house in this room along with their smaller-scale machines so they can run 24 hours a day.

“Before 3D printing, it would’ve been just unthinkable to make a mannequin in a day,” Daniel muses. “Now it’s actually possible.”

“A Myriad of Benefits”

Steve explained that the benefits that came with moving from clay design to digital and 3D printing have been numerous. The biggest savings may be from a time standpoint – they’re cutting from every aspect of the preproduction process.

“We save time throughout the entire process,” he shares.

Because everything is now digital, they no longer have to bring clients in to see mock-ups in person during the design process. “Instead of having clients visit, we can have video conferencing now, which accelerates the initial consultation period greatly,” Steve explains. “The client can sit on the other end – whether they’re across the country or across the world – and in real time we can make those changes and those tweaks to make these pieces exactly what they’re looking for.”

Daniel is particularly happy about this aspect as well. He still sometimes has to work on a time crunch, he explains, but “it’s less physical and it allows a lot more flexibility,” he explains. “If I have to, I can work from home on the computer and makes adjustments. It’s a lot quicker.”

“What,” you may ask, “does he mean by ‘physical?’” Miniature, scaled-down models of a mannequin to show clients weren’t possible before 3D printing, because the mini and full-scale versions can differ so much when working by hand in clay. So, as Steve recounts, the sculptors had to work in full-size clay as they went through the tweaking process, often while the clients were there in person. He explains, “We would bring the client in and then the sculptors would wrestle with the clay in front of the client until we got it to where it needed to be.”

No more mannequin manhandling. “With 3D printing, we take the digital model and we’ll produce a scaled model, usually about 18 inches tall, and then we can send that to the clients,” says Steve. “They can make sure that all the measurements fit where they like and that the posing is what it needs to be in. Once we get the sign-off at that point, then we produce a full-scale 3D print.”

Greneker will print a full-size version of the mannequin, which, with a little sanding and painting, will function exactly like the final mannequin, albeit not in the final material. That gets shipped to the client where the stakeholders can review the piece exactly as it will look in production.

This is immensely helpful for another portion of the process: the sign-offs. In the past, Greneker had struggled to get all of a client’s decision-makers in the room at once. “We would have a group of people come visit us that may or may not represent all of the stakeholders involved in the development,” Steve explains. “Ultimately, whatever approvals or opinions we received at that point could be superseded by someone else that hadn’t been here.”

That frustrating portion of the process is completely removed now. “With this new process,” Steve says, “the model goes in front of everybody, so it’s there for everyone to look at. You get a much, much tighter buy-in much more quickly.”

And of course, in the actual design process itself, the digital realm has also proven itself to be a clear winner over clay. “If you do something in clay, you do it by hand,” says Steve. “You can’t necessarily repeat that.”

No one is likely a bigger fan than Daniel. “It opens up a lot of new tools,” he explains. When designing a head, for example, he can take advantage of the symmetry tool in CAD. The work he’s done on one side of a face is automatically mirrored to the other. “Before, working in clay, we would have to try to make adjustments – ‘Which ear is higher? Are the eyes straight?’ Things like that it makes much simpler.”

It also aids with consistency and continuity if different sculptors are working on the same body. “If I have a large project and I have three sculptors working on it, because it’s three sets of hands, it may not look identical,” Steve explains. “With the digital design, we don’t have to worry about that. The design is the design and you can move it, change it, scale it, but it’s always the base design and it’s always obvious what it is, no question.”

The slashing of time from every part of the preproduction process goes hand-in-hand with cost-cutting. “Internally for the business, the change has been much more cost-effective,” Steve shares. “When I started, we would create lines based on – when it’s all said and done – it’s spaghetti on the wall. It’s our best guess of what was going to sell. We don’t have to do that any longer.”

That gamble used to be a risky one.

“When we did it in clay, you had to commit to it. Clay’s only got a very limited shelf life,” Steve explains. With CAD replacing clay at Greneker, there’s no more wasted effort and materials going into a design that doesn’t sell. Now, Steve says, “We can put a design that we think is cool together digitally and it can sit there as a model until there’s a market and a place for it.”

An Industry in Flux

“The apparel retail industry is in a great deal of flux right now,” Steve explains. “Online sales have really started to affect their brick and mortar sales. I don’t foresee some of the large scale roll-outs in malls in the near future, but what we do see is the need for smaller runs of more specific posing.”

And this – thanks to their calculated research and work – is where Greneker excels.

“What we see going forward is we need to be much more nimble, much faster, and much more cost-effective on the development side so that the retailers can afford to bring in specific mannequins for specific markets,” says Steve.

Greneker’s hard work to modernize and streamline their mannequin production process has paid off. “The marketplace is requiring speed to market. Everything has got to be done sooner rather than later,” Steve explains. “When we would sculpt and create a new line by hand, the process could take upwards of six months in preproduction. In 3D printing, now we’ve reduced that process to where it can be as short as just a few weeks.”

The tedious parts of their old process -the gambles on trends, the risk of botched posing, building up new armatures and clay bodies by hand, the endless on-site client visits to make tweaks and get approval – all of that is now off their plate.

“Right now, we’ve just finished realizing our first set of goals with 3D printing,” says Steve. “Our future goals: we’re going to bring in as many printers as it takes to be the absolute fastest to market as we can be. We want to stay ahead of our competition.”

Learn more about Greneker: greneker.com

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Morgan Hamel

Blog Post Author

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.

Photo by Moyo melements.me / @moyo3k ©2017

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. Kevin has become a friend in this process and while I recall him standing there, everything else was a blur.
Samantha Snabes

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. Every morning I wake up and have to remind myself that Wednesday night really happened.
Samantha Snabes

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.
Samantha Snabes

“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” says Samantha.

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

Morgan Hamel

Blog Post Author

Grand Opening of the NYU Tandon School of Engineering Veterans Future Lab

On Monday of this week I had the privilege of attending the Grand Opening of the NYU Tandon School of Engineering Veterans Future Lab in Brooklyn, New York.

A very special lineup of speakers graced the event, including New York State Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, Dean of Engineering at NYU Katepalli Sreenivasan, New York State Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, Barclays Group Chief Executive Officer Jes Staley, and one of the the engineering school’s namesakes, business-leader and humanitarian Chandrika Tandon.

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Housed in Industry City on Brooklyn’s “Innovation Coastline,” the lab will be an early-stage startup incubator for United States military veterans.

More than a third of all returning military veterans have entrepreneurial ambitions, speakers at the event remarked, but just under 5% launch their own businesses, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. With some 18 million veterans in the country, that’s a lot of unrealized business ideas.

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul told a story about a moment that left a profound impression on her on a visit she made to an American military base in Afghanistan. Sitting around a table with a group of soldiers, she asked them about their greatest fears. And in that tent in the barren, almost lunarscape-esque terrain of Afghanistan, in the heart of Taliban territory, the soldiers’ response stunned her. They were worried about finding a job when they returned home.

The Veterans Future Lab addresses exactly this fear.

The goal of the program is to provide business support and mentorship to a group of people who have given so much to serve their country, to enable them to be successful in this next mission in their lives.

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With their first round of 15 companies starting in January, the program will offer participants 12 months of incubation, mentorship with New York City industry professionals and NYU faculty, and free legal services, among many more benefits.

One of the other perks of the program is the makerspace.

The businesses will have access to a bona fide buffet of prototyping equipment, from laser jets to water jets, injection machines to sewing machines, and – you guessed it – a Gigabot (among a list of other 3D printers).

As a veteran-owned company ourselves, we couldn’t be more excited to have a Gigabot available to the participants.

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Split between the NYU Tandon School of Engineering Makerspace in Downtown Brooklyn and the Veterans Future Lab offices in Industry City, any physical design and prototyping needs the entrepreneurs may have are covered from all angles.

A big deal for not only veterans but also the city and state of New York as a whole, the lab was made possible with the support of Barclays and the Empire State Development Corporation.

As Lieutenant Governor Hochul put it, “This is a very good day in the state of New York.”

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Morgan Hamel

Blog Post Author

From Rubble to Rebirth: #NEWPALMYRA

From Rubble to Rebirth

In addition to the tremendous human suffering and loss in Syria, there is another component to the war which has taken an entirely different toll on the country and its psyche: the destruction of its cultural heritage.

Part of ISIS’s path of destruction has been on the ancient cities’ architecture themselves – they are decimating not only the human population but also their history and culture.

The city of Palmyra is one such example.

Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was once a Silk Road oasis that stood as one of the best-preserved ruins of antiquity before it was targeted by the violent extremist group. UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova referenced Palmyra as an example of ISIS seeking to “destroy both human lives and historical monuments in order to deprive the Syrian people of its past and its future.”

But from the destruction and rubble came a glimmer of good. This is where the story of #NEWPALMYRA begins.

Forward-thinking Bassel Khartabil, the Creative Commons Syria leader, open source software developer, educator, and free culture advocate, began 3D modeling the endangered ruins of Palmyra back in 2005. In 2012 he was unlawfully imprisoned by the Syrian government for his work, and in 2015 was sentenced to death by the Assad regime. His current whereabouts are unknown.

After his arrest, his friends, family, and community rallied around his vision to create #NEWPALMYRA, a non-profit organization with the goal of “freeing Syrian culture digitally, providing agency and advancement for the Syrian people through cultural heritage and digital preservation.”

Creative Commons – a non-profit “devoted to expanding the range of creative works available for others to build upon legally and to share” – hatched a plan to debut #NEWPALMYRA “in the flesh” at their 2017 Summit in Toronto.

And this is where re:3D joined the story.

When our team heard about the possibility of helping out on such a project, we jumped at the opportunity. Mike Battaglia, Usability Engineer and Community Support Manager at re:3D, explained, “I had read about the destruction of Palmyra and was very inspired by Bassel Khartabil’s efforts. Helping preserve this landmark cost him his freedom; when I heard re:3D was supporting the project with a large-scale print I was excited at the thought of us helping continue where he left off.”

The Pylon Printing Process

The piece that Creative Commons decided to bring to life for the Summit was the impressive Tetrapylon, one of four massive quad-column structures which mark the route of a road or central place in the city. These large structures were destroyed by ISIS in January of this year, as reported by The New York Times.

Creative Commons was looking for a machine capable of producing a version of one Tetrapylon which did testament to its immense real-life scale, which is how Gigabot entered the equation. We reconstructed a scaled-down Tetrapylon standing seven and a half feet tall and weighing in at over 200 pounds (90+ kg).

Using digital 3D models of the Tetrapylon provided by the #NEWPALMYRA team, Mike created printable files from the models. As he explained, “3D printing requires error-free ‘watertight’ models to create clean prints.” To accomplish this, he “ran the columns through several repair algorithms until they were good to go, redesigned the base to be better fit for 3D printing, and chopped up the model into smaller pieces that would fit [Gigabot’s] build volume.”

We broke the Tetrapylon into 25 separate pieces, clocking in around 800 hours of print time total. The biggest challenge for re:3D – as many of our bot owners can likely relate to – was working with this massive number of print hours. “The parts were so large that the print time estimates were through the roof,” said Jeric Bautista, Product Engineer at re:3D. Mike added, “This was the largest print that re:3D has taken on to date.”

As for the sheer size of the print, Mike remarked that, “The fact that we had to design in safety measures because of the weight of the object was new to me. If one of those columns were pushed out, whoever was standing next to it could have had a very bad day.” For safety purposes, Mike designed channels into the print to run rods down each column, locked into place with 4×4 wooden blocks.

Coupled with the challenge of the overall size of the object was the detail variation within the print. While some parts of the structure are large and uniform – like the columns – other parts are so fine to the point that dual extrusion printing was required. The print resolution throughout the Tetrapylon ranges between ultra-detailed 200 microns and very large layers of 600 microns.

Jeric explained, “The completion of this project hinged on our R&D efforts to enable high-flow printing on Gigabot that drastically reduced printing times, as well as reliable dual extrusion printing to create highly detailed parts.”

Steve Johnson, lead Machinist and Programmer at re:3D, was in charge of creating a new hot end for the job. He explained his task of manufacturing one with a “longer heating area that would allow us to extrude faster because of the size of the print and the short time frame we had to complete it in.” He designed and machined four hot ends to be used for the project.

The tackling and subsequent success of this challenge reverberated throughout our engineering team.

Gigabot owners will be happy to hear Jeric’s take on things. “I want to go bigger and faster,” he said. “Going back to R&D – we were able to multiply our material output 5-10x for this project, but of course we won’t stop there.” He added, “I’d like to see how our ‘big printing’ R&D initiatives will put us in an even better place to tackle projects at larger scales.”

Crossing these technical challenges was one aspect of what made this project so rewarding. “Not only did we jump over multiple technical hurdles to get the printing done, but it was awesome to see everything literally come together before our eyes,” Jeric said. “And that was just on the 3D printing side, which was the last piece of an already long-running initiative.”

Lasting Impact

The initiative was over a decade in the making and required the cooperation of many different parties, making the success even sweeter. Working in conjunction with #NEWPALMYRA and Creative Commons on this project was an incredible honor for us.

“My favorite part of this project was how collaborative it was,” Jeric commented. “It required folks contributing from so many different spheres to make it all come together at Creative Commons Global Summit.” He went on, “There’s also something to be said about the power of open information and distributed manufacturing to preserve history and culture.”

The final reveal in Toronto was a culmination of countless hours of work by multiple different parties – the print’s completion hinged on a truly collaborative effort.

“It was so moving to see the New Palmyra unveiling at CC Summit and seeing everyone’s reactions, knowing the weight of what the project meant to all of them,” said Jeric. “It really brought things full circle, and was a great example of what is possible with open source projects.”

Of his experience, Mike said, “I was honored to have the opportunity to contribute to this project! I think this is one of the first of hopefully many preservation efforts for other cultural landmarks.”

The #NEWPALMYRA undertaking sets the stage – and the bar – for similar projects. As Mike remarked, “Museums like the MET and Smithsonian have already recognized the value of preserving their own collections of cultural artifacts via 3D scanning and 3D printing. Now let’s continue the same in large-scale.”

One can’t help but see the impact this project will have on future cultural preservation efforts from both intended destruction and natural degradation over time.

“My hope is that cultural heritage sites are preserved with 3D scanning as quickly as possible,” said Mike. “Having a digital back-up may even help to deter ISIS’ demolition in the future, since the symbolic value is lessened once a backup exists. We can even preserve the feeling of being at these sites with VR, and I hope this happens as well.”

As Jeric put it – “Full scale New Palmyra exhibits, anyone?”

Morgan Hamel

Blog Post Author

The GSA Advantage: Part 1

As a self-identified “knower of totally random facts” I pride myself on the amount of odd pieces of information that happen to be floating around in my brain.  And while I did have some idea about what GSA was; going through the process of getting awarded a GSA Contract for re:3D was one heck of a learning experience.

So lets start simple, what is the GSA?

The General Services Administration (GSA) is an agency within the federal government that helps the government to function.  That is their job in the most basic and simple terms I could come up with.  Government real estate (leasing and management), government acquisition services (procurement and contracting), plus best practices and policy guidance, all of these things fall under the GSA, and I am sure there are loads of other functions that I don’t even know about.

I was most familiar with the GSA through their GSA Auction website.  Do you ever wonder where you can buy an airplane, old refrigerators, and 5 barrels of spent brass shell casings? 

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Why the answer is simple – bid on it, the GSA is selling!!  GSAAuction.gov sells anything and everything that the federal government and it’s agencies no longer want.  I personally enjoy the listings for old lighthouses, I mean – who doesn’t want to own a lighthouse? My favorite listing by far was the lighthouse for sale (which had multiple bidders!) that had a Coast Guard maintained fog horn which operated a decibels “higher then recommended for the human body” – It would be like music to my ears as I sipped margaritas in my lighthouse cupola.

Why was it important for re:3D to get onto a GSA Contract?

Selling to the federal government is difficult.  We recognized that we had more and more interest from different federal agencies who wanted to purchase Gigabot.  These purchases took a long time, because the government buyer would have to get through a lot of red tape and a lot of different hoops in order to purchase our products.  So in the interest of saving our buyers time, we took on the task of becoming a government contractor and getting on a Multiple Award Schedule.

What is a Multiple Award Schedule?

A Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) is basically a category that government contractors apply to sell in.  For instance, re:3D is in Schedule 36. Schedule 36 is The Office, Imaging, and Document Solutions category, and within each schedule are sub-categories or Special Item Numbers (SIN), in our case SIN: 51.400 – 3D Printing Solutions. So to put it all together, and really test our acronyms – re:3D is a MAS 36 SIN 51.400 GSA Contract Holder – hooray!

What does that mean for me?

The answer to that, as always, is: it depends.

Are you just a person, with no government connections? Then this post is really just informative, and won’t have any real bearing in your day-to-day life, but stay tuned because I will follow-up with an even more in-depth meat and potatoes post about getting a government contract -real edge of your seat reading.

Are you part of a government agency or subcontractor who is allowed to purchase products through GSA? Do you need a Gigabot 3D Printer? Then you’re in luck!

The reason companies are required to go through the GSA contract procedures are numerous, but the most important one for the government is the guarantee that the government buyers are getting the best price possible.  Which means that all pricing of all products is pre-negotiated with your assigned GSA Contracting Officer (Hi, John!).

Contract awardees (that’s us!) are then able to upload their products onto the GSA Advantage website (gsaadvantage.gov), think of it as Amazon for the federal government.  Government buyers can then search for products to purchase, everything from pens, to desks, to 3D Printers can be purchased through the GSA Advantage website.

Through the GSA Advantage we have created Federal Packages, available only through GSA.  These packages include Gigabot (Standard, XL, XLT), the wheeled cart, PrintinZ, Simplify3D, 3 Year Warranty, and CONUS shipping.  Printing HUGE has never been easier to attain for government buyers!

Over the next year we are going to be putting a lot of effort to marketing our products to government buyers.  It isn’t enough just to get onto a Schedule Contract, you actually have to sell if you want to keep your contract.  Our goal is to look for opportunities to speak and exhibit at government-centric events this year, with the hopes of talking to the right people to make some sales!

To see what our GSA Advantage products look like, or to purchase our Gigabot, Terabot, or Exabot Federal Packages – click here.

Happy Printing!

Mike Strong

Blog Post Author

Catch Us at SXSW 2017!

SXSW prep is in full swing and we can’t wait to see you!

You can connect with re:3D and Gigabot at the events below:

Do you have a request for another event Gigabot should visit?

~Email info@re3d.org with your tips!

Show Us Your Print!

Customer Badge Campaign

Receive cool swag & recognition for your print milestones!

We’re awarding digital & physical patches to commemorate your 3D printing milestones on Gigabot in 2017! Simply email info@re3d.org with a link to your YouTube and/or Vimeo timelapse or a picture of your Viki & final print!

Winners will be announced on our forum (including the current record holder:)

Happy Printing!

~Samantha

THE GIGAPRIZE: 2016

I’m going to be forthcoming in this introduction and tell you that I have no background in 3D printing. In fact, working with the community during this year’s Gigabot Giveaway was my initiation into this world and network, and it has been nothing short of inspiring. My name is Beth Eanelli. You may know me as the community manager of the New Year’s Gigaprize: 2016 and I possibly sent you an email or asked to use one of your photos in a social media post.

As I mentioned, this was my introduction into 3D Printing, and I have been simultaneously humbled and overwhelmed by the innovation in the field. I had heard of 3D printing, read about it in magazines and articles, but as I was graduating University, I remember the first 3D printer coming to the Engineering Department, but I never had a chance to see the machine, or to watch it come to life.

My background is in public health and international development and I have dabbled in social impact, though never in the tech realm. I returned just in time for the holidays in 2015 after spending two years living and working as a health volunteer with the Peace Corps in a little country called The Gambia. The village I lived had no electricity and no running water, and health issues like Malaria and diarrhea still run rampant. In short, there were minimal resources and with the capital being across the country and transit towns having sporadic electricity and no consistency with products sold, managing projects and creating programs required constant rescheduling and a lesson in being a true MacGyver.

The first time I met Samantha was at Unreasonable Impact, a program created with Barclays, which brings together entrepreneurs working towards social impact and change to build community, create jobs and help the entrepreneurs maximize their influence (blog to follow). In her introduction to re:3D, Samantha described the printers as having the ability to be mini factories in countries with little to no resources. Having seen the possibilities of what 3D printers could bring to communities such as the one I lived in, I was hooked, and Samantha and I spoke at length about what re:3D had and continues to accomplish. I imagined my community with a 3D printer, the nearest town with continuous access to a makerspace, and couldn’t believe this was a reality in some places because of re:3D. I learned of re:3D’s 1 Gigabot 3D printer donation for 100 sales during one of many conversations with Samantha and we connected right after the program. Shortly afterwards, I was asked to be the 2016 Community Manager for what was formally called The Great Big Gigabot Giveaway, renamed the Gigaprize due to Unreasonable mentor feedback that the opportunity should not be framed as a handout, rather recognition for global citizens doing extraordinary things to improve society.

I’m going to be honest and tell you that I watched each Giveaway entry video with an open jaw. And while many of you know that 3D printers can be used to print prostheses and create Makerspaces, I was learning along the way, consumed by the novelty. Some of our Gigaprize: 2016 applicants are impacting their communities by printing prostheses for low income families, using plastic waste to create clean energy, using makerspaces as a learning tool in schools and libraries and to keep students in school. There are entrepreneurs among us using plastic bottle tops as filament and creating jobs for those who are unemployed in the industry. Each applicant is a catalyst, an innovator and an inspiration and I am looking forward to the chance to see what everyone continues to do.

The most difficult part of the Giveaway was choosing just one winner to receive a Gigabot 3+ kit. Each person and group is contributing to their community in a profound way, so choosing just one entry isn’t easy. Emergency Floor, the winner this year, has an amazing story. They’re using the Gigabot to prototype flooring to be placed in refugee camps, providing refugees living in these camps warmer, safer and more hygienic. Amazing, right?

I also want to express my gratitude to the judges who helped us make this difficult decision, and brought their vast knowledge and range of expertise to the table. We could not have made this Gigabot giveaway possible without each of these individuals.

Lastly, I want to express my gratitude to the applicants and the 3D printing community for your ideas and innovation, your drive and passion, and for allowing me insight into this world. I also want to that the thousands that voted to share their support for such phenomenal idea. If you didn’t have a chance to watch the entries as they were live, you can still do so here. Want be introduced to one the amazing applicants? Feel free to send me a request!

Happy Printing!

~Beth

  • beth@re3d.org

PS- you can be the first to hear about Gigaprize : 2017 by signing up for the re:3D newsletter. Simply enter your email at the bottom of re3d.org 🙂

Beth Eanelli

Blog Post Author

Pitching for a Circular Economy: Why We Went to Hello Tomorrow in Paris

With the momentum of the Bunker Austin win behind us, Matthew & I flew to Paris and grudgingly paid the shipping for Gigabot to meet us in the gamble that either we would either 1) Get a selfie with Mr. Bloomberg (and much needed press) 2) meet someone willing to cover the bond & buy the ‘bot in France, or 3) we’d win our pitching track & return net positive.

It was a huge risk that our company really couldn’t afford in addition to our discounted flights and a shared hotel room (thankfully Matthew has a very supportive girlfriend with access to deals!). But as Matthew & I firmly believe printing from reclaimed plastics takes an ecosystem of problem solvers, which frankly needs more support, we felt that we had to attend once we were notified that we were pitching finalists.

We also were also intrigued by the premise of Hello Tomorrow, which unites technologists, academics, and corporations to solve the grand challenges facing humanity. 3D printing from trash appeared to be a perfect fit, and Gigabot had to be there. With the promise that we would print a kickass logo during the event, the incredibly kind Hello Tomorrow staff agreed to find space for Gigabot.

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Matthew arrived in Paris first from Houston, and greeted the oversized crate while I gave a talk on the social potential of 3D printing at Singularity University in effort to be considered as a speaker and then flew out from San Francisco.

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As we had witnessed at other events this winter, Gigabot arrived in perfect condition & was up & printing without any calibration. Jet lagged but determined to give it our all, we stayed up late practicing for the pitch competition the next day.

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The day kicked off with an outstanding keynote by Imogen Heap, who demoed her novel gloves to give more dimension to sound. Afterwards, we were humbled when she visited Gigabot and mused with us re: the intersections of community, technology & creativity. We (err….I) shamelessly asked to take a pic in return for a print.

Matthew unfortunately had caught a terrible cold from the travel & lost his voice, but powered through the day, ensuring Gigabot was tended to, I ate some food and we were set up for success at the competition.  We weren’t the only team committed to (or perhaps delusional about) our cause. The other startups were just as hungry to further their passion by building connections with other attendees, and meet corporations in order to foster partnerships. Even the Hello Tomorrow staff exemplified commitment to curating an ecosystem of problem solvers & pioneers, with a teammate receiving a Hello Tomorrow tattoo on stage live!

After witnessing one of the other finalists, Tridom, bring their impressively large robot to the stage, we seized the opportunity to roll Gigabot over as well, leaving the poor Hello Tomorrow staff with little space, and lengthy power chords to manage. However it was worth the inconvenience as our respective machines found love at first print & the selfies of Gigabot & Madeline were adorable.

Tensions mounted as each co-founder took the stage and presented the benefits our ideas offer society. The competition was fierce. Each company had significant traction, an impressive technology, and solid teams. Further adding to my nervousness was the realization that not only was this strongest cohort we had ever pitched against, but the judges were tough!  With Matthew manning Gigabot, I stumbled through slides & questioning. The judges challenged the market for 3D printing as whole as well as the profitability of printing from waste & thus eliminating the feedstock from what largely is a blade & razor model today. While I could certainly have done better, I did my best to build upon lessons learned from Atech in Aruba. I shared the promise of the growing industrial 3D printer segment, the opportunities to increase the market by enabling more people to fabricate onsite, and upside that direct drive pellet extrusion expands the library of printable materials while decreasing print times. Stepping off the stage I was sweaty, shaky, and confident we had lost. I apologized to Matthew, congratulated the team I thought had won and set our sights on the meetings we had arranged with L’Oreal, Michelin, and Airbus.

The afternoon flew by. We gave out all of the flyers we brought, and pitched several blue chip companies to give us access to their post-manufacturing waste. Gigabot had a blast 3D printing Hello Tomorrow logos for the staff & we found that while we likely hadn’t won our track, an unexpected gain from the event was that we had found our tribe.

The attendees were just like us: problem solvers spanning hard science, technology & impact. We met nonprofits such Claire from MSF (Doctors Without Borders) and academics from around the world that challenged us with their questions & feedback. Aside from the criticism we fielded from the pitch judges, we found the Hello Tomorrow community truly understood our vision & was incredibly supportive. Our only regret from the event was not having more time & resources to stay in Europe with Gigabot to follow-up on the multiple insightful conversations we had (or in Matthew’s case had pantomimed).

Tired, but encouraged & full of great French cuisine we caught a few more hours of sleep and dug out any remaining flyers we could scrounge up for a possible meeting with Mr. Bloomberg the following morning. We also stole an hour to sample French food- my taste buds were blown away!

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Meeting the former mayor of NY turned out to be a challenge as he was a popular man, and despite our best efforts we were unable to wrangle a selfie. We did however manage to meet a number of amazing people and took the time to visit the other exhibit booths. Before we knew it, the time had come to join the audience at the big stage and learn who had won the event.

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Coincidentally Matthew & I ended up sitting next to the team from Haelexia, which I was convinced had won. We argued about who was about to take home 15K euros until the programming began, and our track was announced first. To my utter surprise our name was called, and I wished I had taken the time to touch up my makeup, & brush my exhibit – day hair & coffee stained teeth while stumbling over legs and the sea of people between us & the stage.

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I arrived on stage with watery eyes and speechless as we received a hug & trophy from Airbus. You can imagine my consternation when I was then handed a microphone and told we had the next two minutes to pitch two rows of judges for 100K. Feeling ill prepared, I gave everything I had left in an enthusiastic and emotional appeal. While 15K would fund our prototype within a year, 100K could bring what we see as inherently right to commercialization. I did my best and knew that while willing the Grand Prize was a long shot, I was humbled to share our passion with such an amazing group. I also secretly hoped that Michael Bloomberg was watching from the sidelines and would offer our much sought after selfie.

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The best part of the night however, was backstage. As each other track winner joined us, we were blown away by their technologies and the awesomeness of each team. We also noted a curious fact: half of the track winners were pitched by females and/or also came from gender co-lead teams like us. We quickly assembled a cheering squad to celebrate the other winners as they joined us backstage and sponsor Chivas ensured there were plenty of drinks for the multiple toasts that ensued.

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After all had joined, we headed out to join a big band for the announcement of the Grand Prize winner, Lilium. Although the money would have provided what we desperately need to scale our vision to 3D print from waste globally, we were thrilled for their team!

We joined Gigabot & all for the after party and then rushed to pack up Gigabot before security threw us out.

The next day we caught a train and headed outside of Paris to meet a local Gigabot owner. At re:3D we try to visit customers when on the road as it not only provides valuable business intelligence but also is an incredibly rewarding opportunity to connect with the customers personally. We had a blast, and were super honored when they blessed us with a guided tour of the city on the way home and drove us to the Eiffel Tower. We couldn’t go up the monument due to the tools in our backpack, but we were fortunate to walk around the legs and stare into the impressive infrastructure for several minutes.

After pausing to reflect on the engineering & creativity above us, we grabbed dinner & prepped to leave.

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On the flight home my mind was filled with lights, relationships, and next steps. To all who made Hello Tomorrow and my first trip to France a success: thank you. Thank you for believing in bootstrapped underdogs, and for giving us a platform & resources to make the impossible slightly more tangible!

Happy Printing!

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Samantha snabes

Blog Post Author

@samanthasnabes

samantha@re3d.org

Pitching for a Circular Economy: Part 2- Why We Presented our Big Idea to Bunker Labs Austin

Sharing our Vision to 3D Print from Reclaimed Plastic in Texas

After reflecting on Aruba at Atech2016, Matthew and  I were convinced that our vision to 3D print from reclaimed plastic, albeit premature, was a passion we were compelled to continue sharing. We also felt it was imperative that in addition to casting our vision overseas, it was just as important that we pitch the opportunity to join our cause to our colleagues in Texas.  For this reason, I took a break from travel to join Mike Strong, Gigabot and Todd at the 2016 Austin Bunker Muster, a short walk…err roll….down the street from our Austin office.

We arrived a little sweaty, but stoked to assist our friends at Austin Bunker Labs in setting up for their annual fundraising event. Mike & Todd volunteered to help with setup & lighting while I paced around the block, practicing for the pitch competition that evening. The Muster in Austin was a unique event that brought together participants and partners for a day-long event of veteran entrepreneurs pitching their businesses, an Idea Lab for speakers, and a marketplace to buy products from veteran-owned small businesses. As a veteran employer & owned company, our entire team was humbled to support the festivities.

The day flew by as we listened to talks, demoed Gigabot, and chatted with old friends such as Marcus from Vthreat.  We also made new relationships, including JP Morgan Chase, re:3D’s new banker!

As the evening drew a close, I found myself incredibly nervous as we prepared to pitch against 20 peers. Unlike past competitions, this time we took the stage in front of friends, not strangers. These contestants were heroes we revered, who had sacrificed time & limbs for opportunity. Taking the stage with them was perhaps the greatest honored of my life. Normalized with stage-fright and determined to support our buddies, we celebrated each other and our companies’ successes to date.

During the event, I struggled to convey our strategy for repurposing post-manufacturing waste into 3D printers in less than 90 seconds. Further adding to the anxiety was the realization that without winning, we would not have the resources to begin explore 3D printing from recyclables in Q1 2017.  It was only by leveraging the encouragement from friends like Travis from Stump Armour we presented our desire to 3D print from trash. With so many outstanding competitors, we were stunned to learned the community had honored us with $5K to make our idea a reality!

Where do we go next?

With $5K in hand we re:3D received much-needed affirmation that 3D printing from recyclables was not only something inherently right, but offered benefit for our neighbors. Taking a selfie with Austin Mayor Steve Adler gave us certainty that Austin & the Bunker community could incubate our audacious idea!

~Happy Printing!

Samantha snabes

Blog Post Author