Interview with imade3d

Could you explain what IMADE3D is, with 3 words?

Educational 3d printers

What is the idea behind the JellyBox?

We started this with a focus on the educational experience; we wanted people to be able to build their own printer and actually understanding how it works and what’s inside. And in an easy and enjoyable way. That’s why it is transparent as well because we wanted it to be sort of anti blackbox, so that you can see how everything works.

We wanted to meet the needs of schools, libraries, and maker spaces. And that meant creating an all inclusive educational experience so that people would understand ALL the aspects of the 3D printer – from building it, to creating the design and seeing the final product.

This printer allows people to really understand what a 3d printer is, how it works, and what it can do – all by learning-by-doing and allowing people to experiment, build and print.

We really tried to make this as easy to use as possible, which is also why we designed and discarded 7 printers before this one!

Why did you think this was necessary?

Building your own 3D printer is pretty common in this industry, and there are a lot of companies offering these printers and then market them to educations and schools. The problem is, that they’re just too complicated and takes tens of hours to build. And most people probably can’t even finish. It’s just not meeting the needs.

As opposed to that, our printer you have to build from the ground up. And anyone can build it. We had a 10 year old build it in a few hours! So it’s really a very different approach to printing kits – the JellyBox you can build in 4-6 hours without any prior experience.

This is an important point to educate kids in 3d printing and keeping their interest with a printer that it is easier to wrap their heads around.

Who is the printer made for?

The printer is made mainly for schools, libraries and makerlabs. Currently, around 50 schools, across the US, have our printer as part of their curriculum. Some middle schools even have entire courses build around our 3D printer – which is exactly the purpose of it; to educate kids and teenagers on 3D printing and getting them interested in the subject.

What would you want it to look like in 5 years?

That all schools have it! We really want it to be part of their education and for it to be ingrained in their curriculum.

And how are you trying to reach this goal?

We are developing a partner network of organisations and individuals across the world, and training them to become print instructors, so that they can go out and sort of be the ambassadors and really help people to understand the printers. We also provide professional development and training for schools, so they are capable of incorporating the printer into the curriculum and fully teach.

Why is it necessary to include 3D printing in schools’ curriculum?

Almost every company out there uses 3D printing in some part of their production processes – and it’s not going away. 3D printing is here to stay.

By educating students from the outside, and at an early stage, they are going to understand 3d printers as well as they understand computers nowadays. This is crucial, as it is very likely that 3D printing will become a vital part of their future job.

How can we further educate people on 3d printing?

I think people also need to be educated on CAD design. That’s why our two day professional development course also includes a bit of design and slicing.

The reason why we have a focus on schools and education is that you can’t learn these core things from watching a YouTube video. You can’t get the feel of why it works nor break down the machine to build it up again.

Which challenges are you currently facing towards getting 3d printing incorporated as part of the school curriculum?

Well there are a lot of teachers out there who are very passionate about this and want to incorporate it, but the problem is getting funding for it. Schools currently don’t dedicate a lot of money for advanced technology – which is a shame, because that is what the future of the kids will be about; they will have to know 3d printers as well as they know computers.

What else could be done to ensure that millennials will get a bigger interest in additive manufacturing?

I think that a lot of this lies on the companies that are currently using 3d printing – they should try to involve and educate the millennials on the processes and how it works instead of just using it as a tool.

Where do you think the 3D printing industry is going?

I think the focus is increasingly going to be on end-users. There are so many 3D printing projects on Kickstarter at the moment – projects that are really taking speed. That just means that people are interested and want to invest!

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