RECAP: 3D Printer Gurus San Francisco Hangout – July 2017

FullSizeRender 11
From left to right: Chris McCoy from You3Dit, Jason Reynolds from Jinxbot and Thomas Campbell from Gantri all talking about the future of digital manufacturing at the Ferry Building in San Francisco, CA, U.S.A.  Unfortunately not photographed are the big dog, laser-cutting guru Weldon Hall from Oaklabs and the jack-of-all-trades Gideon Lee.  

In this second meeting, lots was discussed about 3D printing, advanced manufacturing, design, etc.  at Gotts Roadhouse in San Francisco’s Ferry Building yesterday, but here are the highlights:

Design your own lamp at

Think your 3D CAD skills could generate a hot lamp product?  Check out Gantri‘s designer program and get your lamp into their marketplace.  If you don’t have the CAD modeling skills but you have a sketch?  Our You3Dit designers can help get you going.    They were also recently featured on Product Hunt and Ultimaker‘s blog so kudos to this bright and shiny new 3D printing company out of San Francisco.

Buildtak…get some!

Many of these 3D printing gurus agreed, that BuildTak drastically improves their 3D printer part adhesion to the build plate; improving part surface quality and minimizing failed prints.  We’ve worked with the folks at BuildTak quite a bit and we’ve always been happy with their products and customer service.  They even sponsored our fun SFmototype competition last year, providing us with branded BuildTak that makes for awesome photos of your 3D printers and 3D printed parts!

The hot topic 3D printers

Chris’s favorite low-cost, high-value Printrbot 3D printers always get praise but also lots of positive vibes for the Ultimaker and surprisingly…Makerbot and their new generation machines.  As Jason (aka Jinxbot) said, “they went from good, to bad and now great” with their hot-swappable, gen 5 smart extruders, allowing the 3D printer guru to fix problems mid print with ease.

Laser cutting vs. 3D Printing

Obviously very different machines that manufacture parts in very different ways, but some designs are better suited for one machine over the other and the clients these experts work with don’t always know that another way exists.  Thus it’s up to the fabricators and designers (sometimes these people are one in the same) to help guide the client to the best solution that meets their project goals.

Here’s a quick table that compares the two manufacturing processes in a useful framework as provided from Prof. John Hart’s EdX course from MIT:

Screen Shot 2017-07-13 at 11.06.10 AM
An informal comparison between two very common digital manufacturing processes: Laser Cutting and 3D Printing (aka Additive Manufacturing)


Favorite Filaments

As anyone who has done a ton of Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) will tell you, a good print always starts with great filament & building materials.  Matterhackers was discussed and was mentioned as a “great vendor” and a “bunch of good people”.  Same was said about the folks from ColorFabb; specifically about their fast service.  We’ve always been thankful to the folks at Cubicity for providing us great filament from Voltivo.

The topic of ABS filament also came up and it was echoed that “PLA+ pretty much takes the place of ABS.”  We’d like to hear your thoughts on when you use ABS or PLA+ and if you agree.

Repkord–although wasn’t specifically mentioned in our discussion yesterday–deserves recognition because he was the inspiration to spend some more time with our community (we’ve been heads down working on our brand-new, fully-functional You3Dit Beta platform.  Check it out and let us know what you think.).   On that note…

The all-new You3Dit: a 3D Design & Rapid Prototyping Marketplace

We’ve been hard at work building and testing this brand-new, fully-functional You3Dit beta platform and we can’t be more excited about the feedback we’ve been receiving.

Fundamentally, we are different from any of these other 3D printing services because we took on one of the hardest challenges–helping clients transform their napkin sketches into a usable 3D CAD model.

Sketch > Design > Solid

It’s “easy” to upload an STL file to a website, get an automated quote and then have it 3D printed locally, but it is HARD to transform a customer napkin sketch into a physical part at scale.  And just because the client designed the part, that doesn’t mean it will 3D print well, or is ready for laser cutting.  The design needs to be generated with manufacturing in mind.

We believe we’ve taken a major step forward here thanks to our team’s dedication, focus and determination to keep design fundamentally coupled to manufacturing.  See the screenshot of our new “project workshop” below:

Screen Shot 2017-07-13 at 11.23.20 AM
In this sample case, Chris M. works with a designer & fabricator Steve F. to confirm an iteration on a 3D model that was generated based on the sketches and photos uploaded in the “project files”.  Steve is able to use the chat interface to clarify design features and submit “iterations” which better ensure that the client will actually get the part they wanted after it’s fabricated using any number of digital fabrication machines in the You3Dit network.  

One of our expert fabricators mentioned, “I always need to get the client to put their request in writing…otherwise it can lead to a mismatch in expectations…” and this is so true.  The new beta platform addresses these issues in three fundamental ways:

  1. You3Dit holds the client’s money in escrow until the designer & fabricator deliver the promised services.  This way everyone works together and has the incentives to be cooperative in all cases.
  2. We have a detailed project description, chat record and iteration submissions that keep things clear for everyone involved.  If too many iterations are requested, the You3Dit support staff can jump in and help course correct.
  3. We also we’ve created a TurboTax-like submission process.  Yes…it’s nine steps long and yes that sounds cumbersome, but it is what helps guarantee the client <> designer <> fabricator success.  We only want clients who are willing to put in–at the very least–their time to submit a well-structured project description if our designers and fabricators.

The Beta site is invite only and if you’re in need of 3D Design and Rapid Prototyping for your next IoT or Hardware product, reach out to Chris to help you kickstart your next project (

Digital Manufacturing Education

3D Printing education is a common topic and it’s inspiring how many of those in our group are committed to education in this industry.  Jinxbot regularly hosts 3D printing learning events at local libraries in the Bay Area and Chris teaches part-time at U.C. Berkeley in the Haas School of Business and also in the Mechanical Engineering Department topics such as: Precision Manufacturing, Sustainable Manufacturing and Hands-on Rapid Prototyping.

Shout outs were going to commending their efforts helping people get started with 3D Design and 3D Printing.

You3Dit since its inception has always been committed to education and is part of it’s core values.  You can find a number of other educational talks in the archives of this blog, the You3Dit Website and many other reputable sources online:

Autodesk – always a lot of great design & manufacturing content coming from HQ and their Fusion360 team

Dragon Innovation – well-known for their development of the Roomba, the folks at Dragon have a ton of text-based & video content on hardware production overseas and design for manufacturing considerations Blog – resources on how to do hardware product development.  One of our favorites is the “Illustrated Guide to Product Development” series.

Fictiv Blog – resources on digital manufacturing

Many thanks to everyone who showed up yesterday and contributed their knowledge to this discussion: Jason, Thomas, Weldon, Gideon, and Chris.

2 thoughts on “RECAP: 3D Printer Gurus San Francisco Hangout – July 2017

    • Can’t wait to have you & Repkord at the next one Alan. Tentatively slated for August 23rd, 2017. Until otherwise noted, we’ll go for Gott’s Roadside Grill at the San Francisco Ferry Building…but we are discussing other suitable venues as well.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.