3D Printing: How to Empower Through Design, Technology & Entrepreneurism
Ron Rose

Two years ago, I knew almost nothing about 3D printing. My interest in this exciting industry grew out of some chance events.

In August of 2013, I read the NY Times article "When Complexity is Free" by Thomas Friedman. The article was about innovation in America, and focused on the impact of 3D printing on engineering and product development.

A couple of days afterwards, I got a visit from David from my son Jake's school. Jake was a freshmen at Drew University and this was a courtesy visit from one of the directors of Drew. During that meeting, I suggested to David that Drew University should consider building a 3D printing lab for their students. This was just a casual suggestion, but the next day I received a call from David. He discussed my suggestion with the Dean of the Liberal Arts College and wanted me to present to them about 3D Printing. As I knew almost nothing about 3D Printing, I asked for six weeks and scheduled a meeting for mid November.

I started to take Fridays off and spent them and my weekends researching about 3D Printing. It was fascinating, but also challenging getting information at that time. So, I contacted 3D printing manufacturers, visited the 3D Printing exhibition at MAD Museum and met with people from Shapeways (the largest 3D printing company) as well as 3D printing labs here in NYC. I did this all to educate myself on the 3D Printing & Digital Fabrication space.

In November, I met with the Dean along with three directors of Drew. When asked by the Dean about how Drew can start using 3D Printing, everyone was surprised by my response. I told them that if they spent a lot of money on 3D printing equipment it would probably be wasted. I told them that if they were an architectural or engineering college, they would be able to easily integrate the technology into their curriculum, but being that they are a Liberal Arts College, it would be very challenging. Instead, I presented them with a broader vision – to build what I called a Technology Design Studio. The mission of this studio would be to empower the students through design, technology and entrepreneurism. This studio would be a high tech, collaborative learning environment where students, faculty and outside innovators would come together to meet and would include a small digital fabrication lab.

During my presentation, I had an "AHA" moment. I realized that I had become passionate about the subject of 3D Printing & Digital Fabrication and the opportunity that this new technology could provide to students. I decided to follow that passion.

I had recently sold my business of 28 years and was committed to work though the end of 2013. On January 1, 2014 I started my new company, 3DP4E LLC, which stands for "3D Printing 4 Everyone".

3DP4E's mission is to empower through design, technology and entrepreneurism. We strive to bring 3D printing to schools, libraries and museums. Our site, 3DP4E.com, acts as a hub for data and tools that people can use in the discovery, learning, and exploration of the Digital Fabrication & 3D Printing landscape.

Our newest product, Kid's Creation Station presents a new way to engage children with 3D Printing. We take the wildly imaginative drawings that children create and transform them into full color, 3-dimensional sculptures with 3D printing.

Our most recent collaboration was an art exhibit with F.I.T. (Fashion Institute of Technology). The exhibit features 3D printed sculptures of Aliens and Dancing Rats, based on the 2D-art of FIT's 2015 Senior Illustration Class. This exhibit is open to the public and free for all. Pictures of this exhibit can be viewed at AliensUnderground.com. In addition, the 3D printed sculptures from the exhibit can be purchased on Amazon at 3DArtistGallery.com.

I hope to build this business into something of value. However, it is the experience that I value most. It is wonderful to be part of the New York's vibrant startup community in New York.