Innovating in The Time of Corona(virus)

The exponential spread of the novel coronavirus across the globe led to overwhelming demand on supply chains and disruptions to traditional manufacturing and distribution systems. Because of societal lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, a dire need quickly arose for locally fabricated, specifically focused and creatively sourced solutions to equipment shortages and emergency supplies. At home and across the globe, designers and engineers quickly mobilized into online, open-source prototyping groups to solve the challenge of a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators and medical device accessories. 3D printing and additive manufacturing was an obvious go-to, with the ability to rapidly prototype and iterate on the fly, teams could utilize 3D printers to supply healthcare providers with equipment now, as soon as there were designs to print. The intention and needs were obvious and clear – to aid humanity and fill the gaps in supply chains – however, organizing volunteers and streamlining the process to avoid duplicate efforts was a daunting task.

As a company with a wealth of R&D project experience and long used to working as a distributed team, re:3D put out the call that we would prototype – for free – any life-saving devices or PPE in order to expedite review by medical professionals. We are conscientious contributors to the open source design community for COVID-19 response. We take a First, Do No Harm approach to any design work we do for this effort, meaning that it needs to be designed with input from, and in partnership with, the individuals who will utilize any equipment we prototype. We will not create anything that gives a false sense of security, but is ineffective or harmful. Our medical providers on the front lines are in need, and we are honored to take on the challenge.

Face Shields

In two overlapping efforts, we prototyped a design for a 3D printed face shield with full visor coverage and an adjustable zip tie style latching mechanism. The inquiry started in Puerto Rico. Vicente Gascó, our friend and colleague from Tredé and Engine-4 shared he had a supply of 4000 clear plastic lenses for face shields, but no visor to which they would attach to the head. Armed with only the measurements of the lenses and aided by an idea from assembly guru and NASA technician Andrew Jica in Houston, Brian Duhaime, our mechanical engineer in Austin, and Alessandra Montano, our graphics designer in Puerto Rico, pumped out five different iterations of a face shield in only 48 hours.

Vicente and Luis Torres, co-founder of Engine-4, pulled our Puerto Rico Gigabot out of Parallel-18 and added it to the existing Gigabot at Engine-4. Gigabots in Austin and in Puerto Rico printed out iterations of the designs for testing.

In Houston at the same time, CTO Matthew Fiedler, mechanical engineer Helen Little and community liaison Charlotte Craff were meeting with doctors from a local hospital to discuss their needs for a face shield. Knowing that vetted, open source face shield designs were already available, the group reviewed designs by Prusa, Lazarus3D, Budmen and Professional Plastics. The Houston team 3D printed existing options for the doctors to test, but the designs didn’t meet all of the doctors’ needs:

  • Lightweight, fully closed top
  • Reducing the air gap between lens and chin
  • 180 degree lens coverage
  • Limit number of parts to reduce need to source materials in short supply

Knowing that supply chains were disrupted and very little raw materials were available in a timely manner, re:3D conferred with Professional Plastics and determined that plastic sheeting supplies were well behind schedule, but that there were excess pre-cut face shield lenses available. Again, re:3D opted to prototype to existing, local supplies, keeping stress off of traditional supply chains and getting creative with what was available.

Over the next week, Helen built on the work done for the Puerto Rico design, integrated the needs of the doctors and iterated ten different versions of the face shield while working from home and rarely getting to hold a print in her hands. The result is a single print, face shield with an adjustable latching mechanism. It’s designed for 180 degrees of protection and comfort without the addition of foam padding.  It has the approval of the hospital’s Infection Control and  is currently available at the National Institutes of Health 3D Print exchange for COVID-19 Response. https://3dprint.nih.gov/discover/3dpx-013504

Hands-Free Door Pulls

Eliminating unnecessary shared contact surfaces is imperative, especially in buildings where essential workers are operating to continue necessary services. Our team includes multiple military service members. One of our reservists was activated when she sent out a call back to our team to make some hands-free door pulls to use on the base. Aided by Matthew Fiedler, Mike Battaglia, our designer in Austin, and Brian Duhaime went to work prototyping hands-free door pulls for lever-style and bar-style door handles.

These designs were drafted before we had dimensions for either of the door styles, so had to be modeled in such a way to enable incremental dimensional adjustments while preserving the models’ shapes. During her free time, the service member sent feedback on the first versions via pictures and notes, and Brian and Mike iterated the changes remotely, melding organic shaped and attachment options into single print solutions.

The hands-free door pulls are now successfully in use on base, protecting our military personnel as they work to respond and aid COVID-19 efforts. These models are available for download here https://3dprint.nih.gov/discover/3dpx-013825 and here: https://3dprint.nih.gov/discover/3dpx-013822

From Intubation Box to Drape Stands

As a 3D printer manufacturer, we are understandably advocates of 3D printing use in manufacturing. However, we recognize that not all innovations require, or are best served by, an exclusively 3D printed solution. As we do much of our manufacturing in-house, including machining parts on our CNCs, we can apply rapid prototyping principals to traditional manufacturing methods. Take the example of an aerosol or intubation box:

We were contacted by an anesthesiologist based in Austin about modifying such a box, used to protect doctors and nurses from aerosols released when intubating a patient. The doctor’s main concerns were ability to clean and the need for a “helper” hole. This equipment needed a curved, clear surface rather than sharp corners where germs could hide. We offered to prototype using polycarbonate sheeting and an aluminum framework available in our machine shop.  In this case, the request for aid evolved before we produced a prototype. The anesthesiologist reported that the existing boxes were unwieldy and took up too much space, so instead requested a solution for supporting clear plastic drapes to achieve the same purpose and be easy to store. Matthew Fiedler proposed a combined 3d printed base and a bent aluminum frame for the project. Design work is ongoing and we will update this post as the prototype develops.

Are you a healthcare professional needing a COVID-19 related equipment solution? Please reach out to us at info@re3d.org to begin coordination. Should you wish to purchase any of our COVID-19 designs. They’re available in our online store: https://shop.re3d.org/collections/covid-19

Interested in supporting existing efforts to fight COVID-19? See below for how to help in Austin, Houston and Puerto Rico.

There is a huge maker community that has sprung to action to support the 3D printing of PPE here in Austin and the surrounding areas.  One of the largest efforts is being run by Masks for Docs (masksfordocs.com), who are actively soliciting donated face shield prints, assembling the shield, and distributing them to hospitals, health clinics, nursing homes, etc – all around the Austin area.  To help with this effort, re:3D will be collecting donated 3D printed face shields in drop-boxes at two locations, Brew & Brew and the Draught House Pub.
 
If you have a 3D printer at home or work & want to help out in the Austin area, you can access the Face Shield Design here.
 
Recommended Print Settings:
  • PETG is preferred, but PLA is completely acceptable if you don’t have PETG or are not able to print with it.
  • 3-4 solid top/bottom layers
  • .3mm layer height
  • 5 Perimeters (AKA Shells or walls)
  • 0% Infill
 
Drop off boxes can be found at:
 
Brew & Brew
500 San Marcos St #105, Austin, TX 78702
 
The Draught House
4112 Medical Pkwy, Austin, TX 78756
TXRX and the amazing maker-community continue to organize face shield collection around Houston.  We are donating 3D printed face shields as well as hosting a community donation box for makers in the Clear Lake area who are printing the face shields at home.  At our factory, the batches are consolidated and sent to TXRX for assembly and distribution to hospitals and first responders in the Houston area.  To date, over 1600 face shields have been donated from the Clear Lake area –  keep it up!
More information and the design file is available here.
 
The Clear Lake drop off box can be found at:
re:3D, Inc.
1100 Hercules
STE 220
Houston, TX 77058
The maker community, including a few Gigabots have done a fantastic job collaborating in San Juan & beyond. We are currently collecting requests for those in need of PPE and sharing opportunities to connect with Engine-4 and Trede’s efforts in Bayamon and additional efforts. If you live in Mayaguez and would like create face shields to be assembled with sheets that have been donated to Engine-4, a drop off box has been established. A UPRM student has also initiated a Slack channel to share other needs. Email info@re3d.org for access.
 
The Mayaguez drop off box can be found at:

Maker Chris’ house at:
76 Calle Santiago R Palmer E, Mayaguez PR 00680


If you live outside of these areas and/or are seeking ways to contribute, A Form to Volunteer is Available Here. We will be responding to inquiries this weekend and doing our best to facilitate introductions:)

COVID-19 Update: Operations, Serving Educators & Joining the Fight

Update May 29, 2020

It’s been a month since our last update, and our COVID-19 response is still going strong! On May 12, we were honored to receive an honorable mention in the America Makes Fit to Face – Mask Design Challenge.  Designer Mike Battaglia and Engineer Samantha Reeve submitted a mask in two sizes designed to be printed with NinjaTek Cheetah. We continue to collaborate with projects for supplying PPE and consulting on new solutions for face shields to ventilators because we understand that effective face protections is essential for keeping our employees and the general public happy and healthy.

Our Houston factory is still closed to the public, but our team remains committed to building your Gigabots and filling your supply orders and service needs.

Gigabot customers around the world are tirelessly supporting their communities and we are honored to share their stories. If you have been doing COVID-19 work, we’d love to hear from you!

AUSTIN UPDATE
Thanks to the efforts of so many groups in the city, the PPE needs for healthcare workers there have been met and we have wound down our collection boxes for 3D printed PPE.

HOUSTON UPDATE
As the city begins to open back up we have teamed up with Impact Hub Houston on PPE for the People, an effort to provide PPE to workers in minority and under-served communities who are at greater risk of critical illness from COVID-19. Please support this project by sharing, donating and letting local businesses know about the opportunity.

PUERTO RICO UPDATE
The PPE support work in Puerto Rico continues and the Gigabot collaboration at Engine-4 keeps churning out supplies for the island.

If you’d like to be connected to any local effort we would be happy to make introductions and provide resources. Please reach out to us at info@re3d.org.

Update: April 25, 2020

It’s hard to believe that two more weeks have past since our last post! We continue to aggregate and collect your PPE donations in Austin, Houston and PR. We also (just met the deadline for the America Makes Mask Fit Challenge). The final design will be posted to our NIH 3D print exchange tomorrow:)

We continue to be inspired by YOU, and welcome your pics and videos for future stories!

For those of you looking to help with PPE shortages near Austin, Houston and Puerto Rico, details can be found below:

AUSTIN
There is a huge maker community that has sprung to action to support the 3D printing of PPE here in Austin and the surrounding areas.  One of the largest efforts is being run by Masks for Docs (masksfordocs.com), who are actively soliciting donated face shield prints, assembling the shield, and distributing them to hospitals, health clinics, nursing homes, etc – all around the Austin area.  To help with this effort, re:3D will be collecting donated 3D printed face shields in drop-boxes at two locations, Brew & Brew, Capital Factory and the Draught House Pub.
 
If you have a 3D printer at home or work & want to help out in the Austin area, you can access the Face Shield Design here. Recommended Print Settings:
  • PETG is preferred, but PLA is completely acceptable if you don’t have PETG or are not able to print with it.
  • 3-4 solid top/bottom layers
  • .3mm layer height
  • 5 Perimeters (AKA Shells or walls)
  • 0% Infill
 

Drop off boxes can be found at:
Brew & Brew
500 San Marcos St #105, Austin, TX 78702
The Draught House
4112 Medical Pkwy, Austin, TX 78756
Capital Factory
 701 Brazos St, Austin, TX 78701
(located in the parking garage, next to the loading dock:)
 
HOUSTON
TXRX is winding down its collection of its 3d printed face shield as they have been able to move to injection molding; a move we fully support! We are keeping our drop box open for community PPE donations and will make sure they get donated to those in need. Currently we can accept: assembled face shields, ear savers and Montana Masks. As we get more requests we will post opportunities here.

The Clear Lake drop off box can be found at:
re:3D Inc
1100 Hercules STE 220 Houston TX 77058
 
PUERTO RICO
The maker community, including a few Gigabots, have done a fantastic job collaborating in San Juan & beyond. We are currently collecting requests for those in need of PPE and sharing opportunties to connect with Engine-4 and Trede’s efforts in Bayamon, or other groups mobilizing. If you live in Mayaguez and would like create face shield to be assembled with sheets that have been donated to Engine-4, a drop off box has been established. A UPRM student has also initiated a Slack channel to share other needs. Email info@re3d.org for access.
 
 
San Juan face shield coordination:
Engine 4 Co-working Space: donation3dprinting@outlook.com
 
Mayaguez Drop-off: 
UPRM Transit and Security, Tránsito y Vigilancia:
Enter UPRM Campus through main gate, and guard will direct you

Update: April 10, 2020

What a week! You all have done an amazing job helping our neighbors & the community at large!

While we continue to iterate this face shield design for the Texas Children’s Hospital (you can view the design on the NIH 3D Print Exchange), as well as hands-free door pulls, we have been blown away by the many Gigabots around the world who are helping with the fight. We’ve started collecting some stories. If you would like to be added, please feel free to share your pictures, details and video with info@re3d.org!


Some of you have also asked how you can use Gigabot and/or other printers to support the local movements near our offices. For those of you looking to help with PPE shortages near Austin, Houston and Puerto Rico, details can be found below:

AUSTIN
There is a huge maker community that has sprung to action to support the 3D printing of PPE here in Austin and the surrounding areas.  One of the largest efforts is being run by Masks for Docs (masksfordocs.com), who are actively soliciting donated face shield prints, assembling the shield, and distributing them to hospitals, health clinics, nursing homes, etc – all around the Austin area.  To help with this effort, re:3D will be collecting donated 3D printed face shields in drop-boxes at two locations, Brew & Brew and the Draught House Pub.
 
If you have a 3D printer at home or work & want to help out in the Austin area, you can access the Face Shield Design here. Recommended Print Settings:
  • PETG is preferred, but PLA is completely acceptable if you don’t have PETG or are not able to print with it.
  • 3-4 solid top/bottom layers
  • .3mm layer height
  • 5 Perimeters (AKA Shells or walls)
  • 0% Infill
 

Drop off boxes can be found at:
Brew & Brew
500 San Marcos St #105, Austin, TX 78702
The Draught House
4112 Medical Pkwy, Austin, TX 78756
 
 
 
HOUSTON
TXRX and the amazing maker-community continue to organize face shield collection around Houston.  We are donating 3D printed face shields as well as hosting a community donation box for makers in the Clear Lake area who are printing the face shields at home.  At our factory, the batches are consolidated and sent to TXRX for assembly and distribution to hospitals and first responders in the Houston area.  We’ve received up to 300 donations in 6 hours- keep it up!
More information and the design file is available here.
 

The Clear Lake drop off box can be found at:
re:3D Inc
1100 Hercules STE 220 Houston TX 77058
 
 
 
PUERTO RICO
The maker community, including a few Gigabots, have done a fantastic job collaborating in San Juan & beyond. We are currently collecting requests for those in need of PPE and sharing opportunties to connect with Engine-4 and Trede’s efforts in Bayamon, or other groups mobilizing. If you live in Mayaguez and would like create face shield to be assembled with sheets that have been donated to Engine-4, a drop off box has been established. A UPRM student has also initiated a Slack channel to share other needs. Email info@re3d.org for access.
 
 
San Juan face shield coordination:
Engine 4 Co-working Space: donation3dprinting@outlook.com
 
Mayaguez Drop-off: 
UPRM Transit and Security, Tránsito y Vigilancia:
Enter UPRM Campus through main gate, and guard will direct you

 

If you live outside of these areas and/or are seeking ways to contribute:

A Form to Volunteer is Available Here. We will be responding to inquiries this weekend and doing our best to facilitate introductions:)

Update: April 3, 2020

re:3D is working on a number of different projects related to 3D printing and COVID response.  Our Houston factory is helping to support two efforts.  The first is supporting the efforts of TXRX and the amazing maker-community organizing taking place around Houston.  re:3D is donating 3D printed face shields as well as hosting a community donation box for makers in the Clear Lake area who are printing the face shields at home.  At our factory, the batches are consolidated and sent to TXRX for assembly and distribution to hospitals and first responders in the Houston area.  Second, the re:3D design team is prototyping a custom face shield design, in conjunction with doctors from Texas Children’s Hospital.  The new design incorporates a pre-cut clear plastic face shield with a 3D printed holder/headband.

In Austin, re:3D is rallying the local maker community.  While there are a number of people working on the 3D printed PPE issue in the Austin area, re:3D is hoping to help organize these efforts.  The Austin team is designing hands-free door pulls and intubation boxes, and we will be releasing all of the 3D printable open-source designs that we have created, including face shields, door pulls and anything else we develop, free of charge. We are opening Austin community drop boxes at multiple locations where anyone who 3D prints can donate their COVID-19 parts. location information will be released as soon as it’s finalized.

In Puerto Rico, re:3D is supporting efforts led by Engine-4 on 3d printing face masks and ventilator splitters. Thanks to efforts by Parallel18, our Gigabot has been relocated to Engine-4 to print for this effort and we are hosting weekly calls for healthcare professionals, designers and makers to organize the community to support creating PPE unique to the needs on the island. We are connecting with every available Gigabot owner on the island to help them join the cause.

For anyone who wants to volunteer to help, please fill out this form.

Updated: March 25, 2020

To our Global Gigabot Family and Supporters,

We hope this message finds you and your loved ones safe and healthy. The 3D printing community is a talented, diverse and compassionate arm of the creative tech ecosystem. We are energized and inspired by the mass mobilization of 3D printing to tackle COVID-19 head-on by providing protective gear to medical personnel, medical equipment to aid victims and filling gaps in supply chains. Every day, you are proving that this technology changes the world for the better. Keep at it!

re:3D IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS!

We have been closely following COVID-19 developments in our areas and listening to the recommendations from local and federal authorities. The small yet mighty re:3D team has always been mobile and adaptable, and we are continuing our regular operations while keeping the health and safety of our team at the forefront of all considerations. Here’s how:

    • Your Gigabots® are being built and shipped on their regular schedule.
    • Your supply orders are being fulfilled with minimal delay.
    • Your 3D printing, design and 3D scanning services are moving forward as planned.
    • As an essential business, the Houston factory is open and fully operational. In-person visits are restricted to deliveries and pickups only to respect guidance on social distancing.
    • Meetups, walk-in tours and in-person classes are suspended until further notice.
    • Classes will move to online-only as format and demand allows.

$100 SERVICE CREDITS FOR EDUCATORSThe education landscape has dramatically changed in the last few weeks and as many educators gamely adapt to new methods of teaching, you have awed us with your adaptability, tenacity, and positivity. In recognition of your herculean efforts, now through April 10th we are offering to educators a $100 credit, with no minimum purchase required, for re:3D printing, designing and scanning services.

For all those schooling from home, we are extending a 20% off discount on all services (scanning, design, printing, materials testing) for any effort supporting distance learning.

Service quotes can be requested at re3d.org/services

HELPING THE EFFORT TO FIGHT COVID-19

re:3D’s Houston factory is equipped with a printer farm of large-format industrial Gigabot® 3D FFF and FGF printers, a metrology-grade 3D scanner, a full machine shop that includes two CNCs, manual lathe, drill press and cutting tools. This equipment and our team of 25 engineers, designers and technicians is available to fabricate equipment for healthcare providers that has been reviewed for viability and safety by medical professionals. Please reach out to us at info@re3d.org to begin coordination. We are happy to prototype any life-savings device for free in order to expedite review by medical professionals.

For those looking for ways to put your 3D printing know-how to work in the effort to fight COVID-19, we are collecting contact information to share further developments and opportunities to 3D print for those in need.

 A Form to Volunteer is Available Here 

Additionally, a great list of other projects has been curated by our friends at the non-profit Women In 3D Printing.

Stay Healthy and Keep Printing!

  ~Gigabot & The re:3D Team

Hurricane Maria forces Parknet to Pivot, Gigabot Lowers Risk

Antonio Ramos takes a deep breath. “It was really depressing.”

A native Puerto Rican, he was living in San Juan when Hurricane Maria hit. He described the sentiment on the island when the storm was forecasted: Irma had just passed by with little effect, and the general feeling was that Maria would also spare them. The island is used to storms, he explains, and they usually bounced back after big ones in a couple weeks.

But this one turned out to be different.

He remembers seeing the radar images of the vastness of the tempest bearing down on them, their island dwarfed next to it. The dire situation quickly became apparent. Antonio recalls his reaction: “Okay, we’re screwed.”

It wasn’t just Antonio that had to weather the storm – he had a company to tend to as well.

From Capstone Project to Company

Antonio and his cofounder, Alan Lopez, started Parknet when they were still engineering students in university. They used the idea for their Capstone Project, building a controller that could connect to the Internet using Wi-Fi or SIM cards and control a boom barrier or electromagnetic gate – “really anything that could be activated,” Antonio explains.

They approached a local company with their idea, proposing to them that they could reprogram their controller in real time.

“They actually challenged us,” recounts Antonio. “They told us, ‘Hey, that can’t be done.’” The company said the only way to reprogram it was to go into a computer, use their software, and reprogram the whole controller.

Antonio didn’t balk. “I told them, ‘No, we can actually hack your controller.’” The company didn’t budge.

“So, it was a challenge,” says Antonio. “And challenge accepted. Something that we’ve learned is that you never challenge an engineer and say that they can’t do something, because they will do it.”

Six months later, Antonio and Alan demoed for the company their “unhackable” controller working as they had originally pitched. Parknet was born.

Maria's Arrival

Parknet makes cloud-based controlled access systems which provide facility administrators the ability to control access points – think entry doors or parking gates – in real-time, through the use of a web-based app accessible from any device with an internet connection.

Antonio and Alan explored different routes for how to market their system in Puerto Rico.

“At first, we wanted to use it for a parking lot payment system. But we found a bit of resistance here from the parking administrators,” Alan explains. They shifted their focus to gated communities and apartment complexes.

They joined the Generation Four cohort of Puerto Rican incubator program Parallel18 in August. And then, in September, Maria arrived.

“After the hurricane, we had no cell phone communication, we had no Internet, no power. It was really depressing,” Antonio recounts. “Our business needs Internet. It’s an Internet of Things device, so it needs Internet to operate and it needs power. So we were kind of stuck there.”

They pivoted yet again, strategizing how to stay afloat and retain their employees.

“We had to survive,” Antonio says. “The sales cycle for gated communities and apartment complexes can be from four to six months. It takes a lot of time and a lot of meetings and convincing.” But they found that with commercial spaces, the process was faster. “We started selling to co-working places and offices.” One such customer is Parallel18 itself.

Antonio stopped paying himself in order to keep his team on payroll. “We were in survival mode,” he explains. He began working in generator repairs, a service in high demand on the island following Maria.

They weathered the monster storm and its lingering aftermath, and several months later the company was back on its feet. As Parknet started demanding more from Antonio, he wrapped up his generator repair work and went back to it full time.

3D Printing Before Moving to Manufacturing

In the Parallel18 program, Parknet crossed paths with re:3D.

They began using Gigabot to 3D print enclosures for their printed circuit boards, or PCBs. “We can build a box in like, two hours, and we can test it before we send it to the manufacturer,” Antonio explains. “The manufacturer had a minimum of 10 boxes, and if it didn’t work correctly, we were going to waste 10 boxes.”

Once they finalized the enclosure design, they moved to a sheet metal forming process, but they continued to turn back to Gigabot for custom requests. “One of the advantages is that we can offer a customer a custom design,” Antonio says. “If they want a diamond shaped scanner, we can build it for them. If they want it embedded into a gypsum board, we can also do that.”

One Parknet customer in San Juan who has requested a diamond-shaped scanner is El Almacén, a speakeasy-style bar tucked away just off the buzzing square of La Placita.

They’re using Parknet’s technology to text message patrons digital keys and grant them entry to the bar with the swipe of a phone. The door unlocks and the e-key-holder descends into an old-timey themed lounge.

It also gives the bar the marketing opportunity to track and quantify their marketing. They can compare how many people the text message key was sent to and how many people used it, rather than their old method, which was a post on their Facebook page with the password for the night. There is also the location-based aspect of it – if a patron gets within a certain radius of the bar, their phone will remind them that they have a key to the nearby locale.

Moving Forward Post-Maria

It’s just past the one year anniversary of Hurricane Maria’s landfall.

Puerto Rico has recovered fairly well given the incredible destruction of the storm. The land itself looks lush and green, and the people I spoke with are propelled by a resilient spirit and a desire to rebuild and strengthen their island for the future.

Antonio is one of those very people. Parknet came out the other side of Maria arguably a stronger company, with more applications and a wider customer base than he and Alan had originally imagined. It’s been a big cycle for them that has taken them through multiple major pivots in the company’s lifespan.

After the trials of Maria, Parknet is now focused back on gated communities and apartment complexes and is ready to tackle their original vision of parking lots.

Learn more about Parknet: https://site.xubo.io/

Learn more about Parallel18: https://www.parallel18.com/

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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Why 3D Printing is Such a Game-Changer for Syracuse University

In this final installment of the Syracuse University ITS Makerspace video series, John nails down exactly what makes 3D printing so powerful.

This is a technology that enables.

From businesses to schools, established corporations to garage entrepreneurs, 3D printing allows a mere idea to become something physical. A hazy vision becomes a tangible item that can be held, touched, poked, prodded, and ultimately, sent back to the drawing board and printed again.

All this without ever having to contract out to a third party to tool up a prototype. The entire design and iteration process can be done in-house, affordably and rapidly.

John encompasses the entire spectrum in one – he’s the at-home handyman and tinkerer, while at the same time an educator managing a university makerspace that serves a student body of around 20,000. He sees the potential for this technology through both of these lenses, making his point of view a particularly interesting one.

And from his point of view, 3D printing is a game-changer.