Think about how frustrating paper printers can be — there are jams, spills and alignment problems galore. Now add another dimension of complexity, and you begin to understand why 3-D printing isn't as simple as it may seem.
Two undergraduate students are learning this lesson firsthand while launching their company, Elevated Designs. They provide 3-D-printing services. The company was started by Adam Rosenberg, a student in the Entertainment Arts and Engineering program, and Mark Andrews, a double major in entrepreneurship and management.
"3-D printing seems like a plug-in-and-press-play process — it's not, it takes a lot of time," Rosenberg said.
They launched the company in 2014 with a $40,000 loan from their parents and office space from the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute. They used most of the money to buy three printers — the types are stereolithography, colorjet printing and fused-deposition model. Over time, they have slowly grown their clientele of mostly student and faculty inventors, printing everything from prototype ski equipment to medical devices.
One unexpected complexity is how "the companies that develop the printers vastly overstate the abilities of them," Andrews said. Another is how much more clients need than just 3-D printing; many want simple concepts, sometimes drawn on paper, turned into something ready for mass production.
The students have overcome these challenges and evolved their business to meet the demands. In addition to 3-D printing, they now provide a robust rapid-prototyping and 3-D-modeling service. Students and entrepreneurs alike can approach Elevated Designs with anything from an idea to a CAD file. The company can work with the product step-by-step until it is ready for distribution.
What does the future hold for Elevated Designs? That may be as promising and uncertain as the future of 3-D printers — "in 10 years, 3-D printers will look a lot different," Rosenberg said.
More at 3levateddesigns.com.