Local firm Arc sees potential in 3D-printing tech

As the white, cube-shaped machine begins to whir at the front of the room, a metal arm can be seen jerking back and forth through the box’s transparent front-facing panel. The robotic mechanism whirs as it works, and onlookers watch as the 3D printer creates a small figurine of a dinosaur out of melted plastic.

“I want to know how to design and print something like this,” said one student, hoisting a different 3D-printed figure of a skeleton mask in the air.

At the first class offered by 3D-printing company Arc Hub Pnh in Phnom Penh on Tuesday, five students learned the basics of the technology and how to incorporate it into their own businesses.

Arch Hub founder KiHow Tran, who is also the director of operations at the co-working space Trybe which hosted the class, began the presentation by giving a brief overview of the software and mechanics involved in the 3D-printing process.

Arc Hub began operating in the Kingdom in 2013, originally setting up shop at a local university with the intention of catering to local businesses that required printed materials.

It soon became clear that 3D printing was not as prolific in Cambodia as Tran had originally hoped, however, and the business soon turned most of its efforts toward teaching young entrepreneurs and tech enthusiasts about the applications of 3D printing.

One of the students at Tuesday’s class, Chanpiseth Ly, said that he decided to attend because he was interested in using the technology to help him at his marketing job – although he admitted he wasn’t sure exactly how it could be used yet.

After the class, Ly said he would come back to talk more with Tran about how to best utilise the machine.

For others, like Lyhor Mom, there was a more obvious application. Mom’s sister is launching a new jewellery business, and he said the printer could help speed up the process of making models for new creations.

“For jewellery, we can sometimes use the 3D wax to [model] rings,” he said. “It would be good to learn how to use these machines to do that.”

Tran noted that 3D printing was often used in jewellery making, and could help speed the process of making wax models.

“3D printing is used a huge amount for jewellery making,” he said. “A jeweller used to have to chip away at these wax designs for over a week – but if you 3D print it, it takes just a few hours.”

Arc Hub Pnh’s 3D printer has already helped at least two startups create products in Cambodia so far.

Em Chanrithykol, the founder of Doy Doy, a toy company that uses 3D printing to create connectors to help make plastic straw models, attributed his success to a class taken at Trybe last year.

The firm also helped teach 3D-printing techniques to four young entrepreneurs who began 3D printing their award-winning rat traps following their victory in the Southeast Asia Makerthon in late 2016.

For Tran, the technology represents a chance to revolutionise a variety of businesses and sectors.

“Today, people are 3D-printing houses, 3D-printing gadgets and even trying to 3D-print jewellery straight onto people’s wrists,” he said. “We’ll all be dead by the time they make that happen, but it’s still cool.”

Local firm donates 3D printer to NHS

Students and staff are ecstatic that local real estate firm, Estate Professionals, recently donated a 3D printer to Niwot High School (NHS). Computer science teacher Teresa Ewing, who was also integral in bringing this wish list equipment to the school, said this donation has been a great way to help build up the school’s technical program.

“Programming the 3D printer is a carrot,” Ewing said. “When students complete an assigned project, like their latest one of designing a playground, they are given the opportunity to use the printer.”

This is Ewing’s first year in a NHS classroom after three years teaching at Flagstaff Academy. She spent 30 years in the corporate electrical and optical engineering world before she completed her teaching certification. Her 10-plus years of volunteering with high school students at Up-A-Creek Robotics in Longmont clinched her desire to work with kids as a profession.

When Logan Schlutz, an associate broker at Estate Professionals, reached out to NHS inquiring what the company could do for the high school, Ewing and her students’ hopes to one day have a 3D printer in school became a reality.

Schlutz is a 2010 Niwot High graduate, his father, Ivan Schlutz, graduated from NHS in 1980, and other family members, including Schlutz’s sister are also graduates of the school.

“NHS gave me my first opportunity to practice leadership,” Schlutz said. “I just feel incredibly fortunate to have had the experiences I did there. There are a ton of really motivated people there and the experiences I had really built on themselves. “

Quietly whirring away on a project programmed by sophomore Clay Kleespies during an AP computer science principles class, the printer is creating a unique cup he designed. It will take 56 minutes to be completed through the layer-by-layer process.

The elegant printer is connected to a monitor that displays an image of the end product. Bright green plastic filament is slowly being fed from a roll reminiscent of an oversized spool of thread and is then extruded in sweeping motions onto a tray, building the cup, slice-by-minute-slice from the bottom up.

The gradual progression of the creation is mesmerizing. But the best part is that students are being inspired by the technology with its ability to start out making simple items and advance to more complicated undertakings.

“I would like to do something bigger now,” sophomore Keith Hemenway said. “My first project was a cool introduction, a good gateway. This is weird futuristic technology that’s here now.”

In addition to the AP class using it, the printer will be available to a 3D Printing Club, as well as an introductory programming and an engineering class.

Aleph Objects, Inc., out of Loveland, manufactured the printer. The model is the Lulzbot Taz. Ewing was familiar with this particular device. Her fondness for this machine, and knowing that the company was conveniently located if there‘s ever a need for support or maintenance, made the purchase decision an easy one. The cost of the printer, initial supplies, and a cart came to approximately $2,500.

The generosity extended by Estate Professionals to the high school is owing to their philosophy of giving. The firm of six licensed agents has begun a program they’re calling “Operation Pay It Forward.” The goal is to assist other businesses with community giving.

During Longmont Chamber of Commerce’s annual Unity in the Community event last week, Estate Professionals hosted one of the 25 business, non-profit and community booths. The focus was to allow others to be exposed to the gratification and importance of giving.

Ewing and the 3D printer were featured at the booth and Schlutz was pleased to let other businesses know they too can help to check off wish list items with their kindness.

“It’s easy for us to write a check, but that would miss the personal touch we feel is important,” Schlutz said. “We’ve got a list of other needed donations, so we hope businesses will contact us and we can help them to give too. We are also open to hearing from teachers and organizations with other ideas for what they need.”

Schlutz said, “We put the needs of people first because of the industry we’re in and we’re a hyper-local company. We’re very fortunate to work in such a great market and economy. Education is important to us. I never thought of computer science or engineering as a career, but I would have it explored it if I had been exposed to it. We’re happy to be planting that seed for students to see what the future holds for them. It’s such a tangible way to know how valuable their skills can be. We have a responsibility to give back to our community and hope other businesses do it too.”

Ewing mentioned that she would like to provide her classes with another item – Arduino circuitry – which costs about $900.

There’s clearly a great deal of mutual admiration between Ewing and Estate Professionals, with each praising the other for their support and dedication to the community and education.

“Our classes are about diversity and inclusivity. We want to give all students the opportunity to be excited about engineering and computer science,” Ewing said. “Estate Professionals’ support is so greatly appreciated!”

“After meeting Teresa in person, we felt she was fantastic and it was very clear, once they had the printer in place, they’d be able to use it a lot,” Schlutz said.

To find out more about Estate Professionals’ Operation Pay It Forward Program, call Logan Schlutz at 303-815-3922 or email logan@pros.realtor.

Local health-care officials seeking solutions through 3D printing

The old-fashioned concept of putting those with a problem together with those with the tech skills to potentially solve it is the basis of the new competition Printing for Healthcare.

Andre Khayat, a mechanical engineering student at the University of Windsor, is shown at Print for Healthcare on Oct. 20, 2017 at the Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare’s Tayfour Campus. Dan Janisse / Windsor Star

The old-fashioned concept of putting those with a problem together with those with the tech skills to potentially solve it is the basis of the new competition Printing for Healthcare.

After listening to a series of speakers on how tech and innovation are being used in new ways, students were handed a series of challenges to solve using 3D printing from local health-care organizations.

“We’re a little bit behind other areas in using 3D printing in health care,” said Michelle Nevett, health and social innovation research associate at the EPICentre.

“The Windsor area has people who are greatly skilled to do these things. This is really a test pilot project.”

Nevett added the idea, if the competition proves successful, is to expand the concept of paring industry leaders and their needs with the tech community.

“They have challenges that perhaps can be solved by people with the right tech skills,” said Nevett, who confirmed 60 students had registered for the competition so far.

“It’s getting us out of our silos and bringing people together.”

Michelle Nevett

The competition is a collaboration between the University of Windsor, St. Clair College and TechTown Detroit.

There are at least two teams already registered from the Detroit area and Nevett expects there’ll be more once the program is presented across the river.

Teams or individuals can register for the competition on the EPICentre website until Nov. 6.

The groups of mostly college and university students will work in teams to produce a product or solution addressing an issue for the Jan. 11 showcase at the EPICentre.

There their work will be judged and three prizes will be awarded. The prizes are a mix of cash, mentorship, incubator space and connections to area health-care officials on both sides of the border.

“Connections is what the students really told us they wanted,” Nevett said.

University of Windsor engineering students Besim Kalajdzc and Andre Khayat believe the concept can a be game changer.

“It’s immensely valuable developing relationships with people you’re not normally exposed to,” said Khayat, who is working on his master’s degree in mechanical engineering.

“It’s encouraging mingling with people of different disciplines.”

Besim Kalajdzic

Khayat said he’s long been leaning toward the bio-medical side of engineering, which makes the competition a perfect venue for him.

He’s working on developing a product to train nurses on chest drainage.

“It must be nerve-wracking sticking a needle in someone’s chest,” Khayat said. “We’re trying to use 3D printing to develop something for nurses and residents to train on doing the procedure.

Kalajdzc, who is working on his master’s in industrial engineering, has found himself migrating toward bio-med as well.

“3D printing is an emerging technology,” he said.“This gives us an extra opportunity to work to commercialize our project. There’s a tremendous opportunity to innovative with 3D printing in health care.”

Anna Modestino, an occupational therapist for the John McGivney Children’s Centre, focused her requests on assistive devices for her clients.

Two of her requests were for equipment to augment clients’ communicative devices and for something to help young children sit up better during feeding.

“We’re looking for anything that makes our clients more independent and their lives easier for themselves, caregivers and families,” Modestino said. “I think there’s great potential here. It’s hard to get customized equipment and it’s costly. This could be financially less expensive.”

Modestino said the event will also help the students think about different products form different perspectives.

“This is an opportunity to expand young minds to things they may never have thought about,” Modestino said. “It could be something they can easily design in a short period.”