Print3D Matter store in Amsterdam, Henry Stock: “We have a wide range of people that come in to get things made, even just simple everyday things”
Located in Amsterdam since mid-2014, Print3D Matter can be defined as a 3D design and manufacturing store. Its business strategy is to exploit the possibilities of 3D printing in order to meet peoples’ everyday needs.
Main focus of Print3d Matter’s activity is developing and prototyping but, beyond all that one would expect from a store, it is also a small lab where children get introduced to the tools of digital fabrication and the DIY concept.
We spoke with Henry Stock, manager of the store, to understand how Print3D Matter combines commercial and social aspects, and what its impact on the local community is.
Bit by bit, new business activities related to the digital fabrication are appearing. What does Print3D Matter offer and why is it a resource for the local community?
“We are a 3D printing specialized store and run several areas of business: we sell printers, and we also offer printing and designing services together with a colleague specialized in 3D design. Beyond all that, we run a small lab for children up to the age of 16 together with some business partners.
The print-on-demand service is pretty explanatory: people that don’t have a 3D printer at home, but that would like to print something they have designed or downloaded, can send us the model to print it off in a range of several materials.
We also offer design services for people that have just a rough idea or want a little thing for their house, but that don’t know how to bring it into an actual product.
So we arrange a meeting with both the designer and the clients to go through the design and to print the object eventually. The clients try it out, they do a few alterations on the design and then come back to print another piece.
We try to be quite quick at developing and prototyping.
There is a guy, working on a USB electronic stick, who used to send his prototype to China. Every time he changed the design, it took one month for the product to come back while, now, he can send it to us, and we give it back to him within a day or two. So, instead of taking a year, we can bring the product to the market within a month.
We have a wide range of people that come in to get things made, even just simple everyday things: something is broken, and they don’t want to spend 200 euro, or even more, to replace the whole system because of just one little part. So we can redesign or scan an object to print it off. This extends the life of that product, so that you don’t throw away anything that is broken.”
As you said, Print3D Matter is also a small lab for children. What is its concept and scope?
“The lab downstairs has a really cool concept. The two Dutch people managing it really want to get the making spirit into the hands of kids. They feel that they’ve been left out of schools.
There is not so much wood work or metal work in classes, so they are trying to bring children here in the lab and to teach them how to use a 3D printer, a t-shirt press, or a laser cutter.
Children learn these steps along the way and get involved in building things that they end up using.
We got a simple, but really cool, design for children: a painting robot. They build the little robot themselves and make it look fun by adding little eyes or other nice things on it. It has a little motor that makes it spin. You dip the robot in the paint, turn it on, and use it to paint on a canvas. This way, children walk out the store with a robot and a painting made by themselves.
So that is part of the average day-to-day business that we do here… It’s a very exciting industry to be in.”
According to your personal and professional experience, how is 3D printing going to evolve?
“Since we opened in mid-2014, the progress and the new products that have come into the market are just amazing.
Products were really expensive and, now that the patents are starting to drop off, everyone is coming in and designing really cool machines, products, and materials all across the borders.
There is so much space for development, and it’s a cool community too: everyone is happy to share knowledge; no one wants to keep it closed up. People want to keep it open source so that anyone can get their product and develop it.
I think that, within the next 2 years, the print quality of a 1,000 euro printer is going to be amazing.
I like because it is additive manufacturing, so your only output is what you want to obtain. Traditional manufacturing is usually subtractive: you have wood and you carve it. That makes a lot of waste while, with additive manufacturing like 3d printing, you create only the structure that you actually need.
Plus, thanks to the way it works, it allows you to make more intricate designs than you could make using the traditional systems… It is going to be an amazing industry to see develop.”