If you have a question about 3D printing, 3D Printing Club will have an answer for it. What started as an interest group seven years ago, has now grown organically into a resource space for 3D printing enthusiasts. Al Shuryan created the club out of his interest in making items during the early computer industry. 3D Printing Club provides opportunities to everyone with conversation threads about the best budget printers or the best place to buy filaments. But their ultimate goal is to become a content reservoir to further the education of 3D printing.
I’ve got an interview with someone who has created the 3D Printing Club which is an online virtual club. His name is Al Shuryan. He is a retired veteran and he created this 3DPrinting Club out of his interest in making things which starts back decades ago in the early computer industry. He was an expert in IT and that’s how he got into 3D printing, We meet different people in the 3DPrinting community, people that are in education in a formal way, actual teachers getting paid to teach 3D printing as a part of the curriculum, to the students in their schools, to people that are in business using 3D printing. We’ve had people making the autonomous vehicles where it’s a whole business where 3D printing is a fundamental part of what their business does to make their products, to the manufacturers in the desktop and commercial 3D printing space.
Al is very different. He just is interested in it and he is a connector, and he’s taking the initiative to create a resource website that really is a community of people. It’s another good resource that many of you may be interested to participate in, to not just learn from the material that he’s providing there but to communicate with other people, like a virtual tech support. If any of you are looking for more communities to be involved in and more resources to help you in your 3D printing journey, then you should be very interested with this episode.
Listen to the podcast here:
3D Printing Club, A Resource Community For Enthusiasts with Al Shuryan
Al, thank you so much for joining me on WTFFF. It’s good to have you here.
It’s my pleasure.
I’d love for you to give a little bit of a background on your interest in 3D printing and what brought you to really start your 3D Club.
Back eight, nine years ago, I was into modding custom computers for PCs for vets for charity. Each mod that I would do, I had five or six of them, I wanted to learn some new technique. I started a 3D Printing Club about seven years ago just as an interest group. I wanted to learn from the community and it took off from there. I’ve gone from modding computers to hosting and helping the 3D printing community.
Were you always into modding computers back in the early days of computing?
I’m old. I go all the way back to the Commodores. We were hacking and modding just about all my life, my son and I, and it just continued. I’m an IT engineer, a database specialist. That’s what I used to do. I’m retired now.
I was around during the Commodore days. I had a Commodore VIC-20 myself back in those days. My mom actually was a computer science engineer. She’s a baby boomer and that was very unusual with her generation, especially for a woman at the time to be a computer science engineer. She was the only person in her class. I always had those old computers, coming home and working with them. I got exposure to that at a very early age.
I used to work in the mainframes, the big giant databases, the largest in the world. Those were the database I tuned and tweaked and things like that. Now I have the club and it’s a wonderful thing. It just grew organically. It became one of the most pleasures that a 3D enthusiast would enjoy hanging out with. It’s a great club. We’re celebrating seven years with a big giveaway and we’re growing from there. We just built our new website.
I’ve been checking out the website and you have quite a bit of resources on there. Is the club more of a virtual online club or do you have a physical club location like makerspace or anything like that?
I don’t. You just interviewed one of our crew, Christopher William Kaminsky of Mi3D in Michigan. We’re all a nice clique, our partnership. He’s one of my admins and he’s got a makerspace. I don’t yet. I’m right at that decision making threshold where do I go 501(c)(7) nonprofit, because we’ll have probably $5,000 or more donated to the Vocational Educational Center here in Michigan, or if I continue as a membership club type of thing, we’re not sure yet, but it’s a great group of enthusiasts, and some of them are even more than enthusiasts. We’ve got professionals and doctors and engineers and guys who can really dig down and get deep with our understanding of 3D printing.
Are the members contributing to some of the written content on the site? How do your members participate in this community?
Since the site is new, we started out with the crew that we have. I’m starting with the first five. They’ve been with the 3D Printing Club and 3D Print Laser and Milling. That’s another group of ours on Facebook. They’ve been with us for six or seven years, right from the start was Bob McGrath, Jim Weist. These are all guys like CNC experts and milling experts and 3D printing experts. Patrick McKenna, Robert Griffith from AskGriff, he’s our education guy. Thomas Harrell, he’s from the world of modding and I brought him along with me over to the 3D printing and he’s a laser and CNC guy.
Those are the primary crew that started with us long ago, but now, we’ve got guys like Chris Garrett of Rainmaker and Maker Hacks. Jim Carter, printer extraordinaire. He’s got some nice prints out there. William Donald, David Medina, Harlan Baker. I want to give a real special shout out to Chris Garrett. He’s hosted on his servers our clubs so that saved us so much and he gave us that organic ability to get kicked off and started, and Håkan Fägnell of 3D Printer Chat. He’s been a friend and a side-by-side for quite a few years now. He’s joined us and sharing some insight with me. He’s our webmaster. That’s the crew.
You have a lot of different information. You’ve got news and you’ve got reviews. Tell me about the reviews of the products that you have there. Are those products you’ve actually personally tested? How are doing those reviews?
The way that we’re working right now is our staff, our review techs, most of them are independent. They have their own site like Maker Hacks and Makers Workbench and Matthew Snow from Inside the Mind of Matt. We just added him as an affiliated independent review tech. I can get product and get it for reviews myself, any one of our review techs are professionals. We’ve been in the hardware, review, authorship, and writing for years. I come from the hardware side. I used to review computer hardware. I’m just picking up where we left off there and bringing it into 3D printing.
Have you built a 3D printer yourself then if you’re a hardware guy?
Yes, I have.
Tell me about that experience.
If you get a kit, you can actually start out with the 50% of the equity. The value of that printer is your sweat and work. You learn so much from building a kit. Don’t get a cheap one. Get a decent kit and learn from that and it’ll be a lot of fun. I’ve built a couple of kits that were just failures and a couple of kits that were just a lot of fun building. The Hacker H2 from SeeMeCNC was a blast. You built everything. You built the hot end, the board, everything. Wired it all up yourself, soldered it, and that was a really great experience. I appreciate that from the SeeMeCNC guys.
That’s an experience that not enough people have who are into desktop 3D printing. Some people don’t have time for it. I really don’t have time for it, although I would really enjoy it and I’m sure I’d learn a whole lot more by doing it. I’ve never done it myself, but I was always into kits and different projects growing up. For me as an adult, I use 3D printing as a part of my business and I don’t have time for a big project like that. Like I said, I would learn a lot. I certainly appreciate it. A lot of people who are more on the engineering side of their interest in 3D printing would benefit tremendously by doing that.
We have so many of our members also modding these 3D printers, making them even better and better. My next review project is a Creality CR-10S, the upgraded version. I’ll compare it to what the old version was, and then a series of mods to that to make it even better, nozzles, hot ends, pulleys, drives, gears, things like that. What can make it even better? I can’t build anymore. I can’t put together a 3D printer now with these hands but I had a lot of fun. You learn a lot from doing a kit and that sweat equity is worth 50% of its value. What’s cool though is we’re starting to see these upgrade editions and they’re an easy put-together, fifteen minutes, and they’ve got some nice features like auxiliary plugs, the aviation-type plugs. Safety is starting to play a roll lately.
Safety is really important, especially with all the 3D printers going into the education space.
I like to think that the Club played a role in the 3D industry in the 3D educational technology growth. We’ve been here hosting many teachers over and over. We started a 3D printing club for teachers in schools, whatever content that we can zero in on for education, STEM, any type of that type of content, we’re going to channel there. We’ve got lots of friends getting ready to publish some good content through there. Hopefully, we can develop that into some classes and some streams and educational content that the schools can use. I’d love to host 3D printing clubs all over the world for the schools and teachers side of it.
Certainly there’s a big community of people out there looking for resources. I don’t think there can be too many resources to help people with this.
That’s exactly what the club for teachers in schools is funneling in. We’re funneling and keeping it filtered to just that genre of 3D printing. It’s a great little club. There are 9,000 or 10,000 followers in there now and I’m always looking for more. It’s a great place to hang out for a teacher.
Tell me about how a teacher would engage within your club and “hang out there.” Tell me about a typical teacher’s experience or what would be the opportunities that they could experience?
They have conversation threads in there. One teacher who might be just setting up their makerspace and wants to know what’s the current price line budget school printer-type thing or set up, or where’s the best place to buy some filament, or how to set this certain printer up. They even have lot of helps in there where somebody is having a problem with one of the common educational printers. There’s always another teacher there to help them. The tech support is very fast., It’s cool what happens with these clubs. We can help people out sometimes sooner than if they called it in and less hassle. That’s one thing the club can do and the teachers can engage with. Another is content. They’re sharing content right now. One of our goals or projects is to build a content reservoir of our own and hopefully get some content creators and things like that and do more of our own content creation. At the same time we share the communities. A lot of our members are doing things like this.
They’re actually creating educational content and have a series of tutorials and a software tutorials and things like that, and we promote them. I don’t shy away from them advertising in the club or anything like that. This is where you get that kind of information. We’re really proud to see these members who’ve become entrepreneurs themselves and creating content. It’s good to see the members grow up type thing. We’ve got some really special people for teachers in schools. If you ask a question, you’re going to get an answer, you’re going to get a couple of answers. It’s not a lonely place to be. It’s always moving. It’s always flowing. It’s a good place to be. Sometimes I can work out a really good deal if we’re reviewing a certain type of printer that’s just for a class or schools or just right for education. We can get a special going on with the publishing of that review and we get some good prices.
That’s something I also noticed on your site. There is actually a store and the people can shop through your site. You’re actually reselling 3D printers and materials it seems, is that right?
Yes. We just came up with a new site within the last five days. I don’t have the 3D PC Sales page up yet. One of my friends sells Ultimaker over in Germany and he’s got that up. We’ll have the 3D PC sales on the specials that we get, we’ll have some 3D printers there from Gearbest, Light in the Box, and then some of the others we’re talking to right now. I don’t want to name names. We’re not working together yet. We try to help those that are homegrown from the community. Those are the special ones. I wouldn’t mind putting them in our store and not taking any commissions at all. This is a club. We shouldn’t look for every opportunity to charge people for every little thing. There’s a lot of members from the club who’ve actually grown up and become the head of these little businesses, whether they’re 3D bed mats or goo spray or other solutions, modeling and things like that too. They’re all within the club and they’ve grown up here and they’re special people.
I want to get them on site too. That’ll be something that’s coming on site. A lot of the member blogging and things like that, that’s another thing we have planned for this new site. The sales is not up yet and it will be zeroed or shaped down to the products that we find that we feel are promotionable, that are good printer in the community and it’s performing well and it reviewed well. I don’t want to put any printers in the sales that we haven’t reviewed. Most of it will be printers that we’ve reviewed and accepted. I have an idea for a 3D PC Choice Award. If it’s something that we really like, we really love or think it’s a great community printer, we’ll give it a 3D PC Choice Award. That will definitely be hopefully in the store. I’ll make some arrangement with the manufacturer or one of the resellers to sell that in the store, and they give us some really good prices.
It seems like members of your club might get access to some opportunities and discounts, if they would be interested to purchase through your site. They’re purchasing through your site but I would imagine it’s going to be drop-shipped by the manufacturer.
Yes. I look for those who have dealerships or distributorships here in the US so the shipping isn’t an issue or isn’t too bad of an issue. I watch out for those gotchas, any of them that sell a printer real cheap but then you’ve got to pay a fortune for shipping. I don’t do that. It’s going to be decent deals and legit stuff. I don’t have time to mess around with any problem, so it’ll be good stuff.
You’re a veteran, correct?
Is there any part of that that you are making a part or your club? Are you trying to attract veterans who are looking to perhaps learn more about this industry or maybe a second career? We hear a lot about veterans that are trying to get training in different areas. We’ve had a couple reach out to us directly on our show who have served and not maybe gone to full retirement age, but had been in for a period of time and got out, and they’re looking for what they’re going to do in civilian life. Can you tell us a little bit about what you’re doing with veterans?
Yes. It’s a sad story. PCs for Vets out of San Diego, I was on the Board of Directors there. We were just getting into teaching disabled veterans 3D printing and a bigger charity came along and ate up our grant. PCs for Vets had to fold. I was part of that two years ago and that was a sad loss. I have a real close association with Strategic Staffing Solutions out of Detroit, a worldwide, consulting company. If there’s anything I can help with, I try to help there too. All veterans are fully invited, 100%. I wish I could do more with veterans projects but the club has got my attention now. Up until now, I had been involved in lots of veterans projects. As a matter of fact, the Presidential Service Award for over 4,000 hours of Community Service, most of that was for veterans.
I understand your focus, as it should be with most veterans. They are retired from the service and then they have to make it one way or another in the civilian world. If everybody just tried to help veterans, there are probably too many businesses or nonprofits trying to do that. I understand you’re focusing on 3D printing, but it certainly seems like veterans would have a great home and be very comfortable in your 3D Printing Club.
They would be. Now that you bring up the subject, the vocational and technical schools, we need more of those. It needs to be a vocational and technical opportunity-type of a thing, 3D printing and scanning and lasers and things like that. It shouldn’t have to be a full two-year course. You should be able to get some vocational training on it now. That’s something that we’re lacking. Like ITT Tech, they closed down and they had so many veterans go into it. What else is there now? There’s not much.
That’s something that we have been keeping a close eye on over the history of this podcast, which is now several years old and over 500 episodes. There’s a company we’ve done a couple of episodes on that’s here in Southern California. We give more exposure to them. They’re called Vocademy. There’s a couple good episodes on Vocademy that you might want to go back and check out. Anybody who isn’t aware of that should definitely go check them out. They should still be on iTunes and if they’re not, they’re on our website at 3DStartPoint.com, you can always get them there. Vocademy is a modern tech vocational education organization, also a nonprofit that is seeking funding from different places. They’re really doing a pretty good job here in Riverside, California. Their vision is to create more locations. They have the one location in Riverside, California, but they want to put Vocademies everywhere they can.
The way they’ve approached it, all of the things they’re teaching, there is a big need to teach a skilled worker base in a lot of these areas. They cover everything from the traditional industrial, whether you want to call it arts or even just traditional vocational trainings, like they teach welding, for instance. It’s a real important one that I know they’ve been very successful with. They have a whole sewing studio and they teach about sewing. Then they have all the different kinds of shops and they have CNC machines. They have 3D printers. They’re teaching CAD skills. I saw a class that I was interested to take there, Fusion 360, which is a really good program looking forward in this industry. There are some that are happening, but I agree with you, in too many areas of the country and certainly between the time that I was educated in the high school and college level to now, a lot of those trainings, tech schools, vocational schools have gone away and industrial arts education in high schools had gone away. I do see that 3D printing is causing a resurgence in interest in this.
We have it here in my school district, the William D. Ford Vocational Center. During the day, it’s for the high school students, the last two years are technical training and building houses, construction, plumbing, welding, all of those types of things. Then at night, it has a night school for adults in most of the same classes that they offer. I have a commercial food 3D printer coming up next month that we’ll be doing a review on. I’m taking it over to the vocational center to the chefs who are going to learn how to do 3D printing. We’re going to join the chefs with a 3D printer, designer, modeler, CAD type of person, and they’re going to design the desert to print from the 3D printer as a team. Whoever wins that competition will be printing in the dining room floor with our 3D food printer to the retirement community that lives across the street. It will be able to juxtapose new technology with the old folks home dinner.
Is that a commercially available food 3D printer right now or is it something up and coming?
Yes, it is. It’s hard to find, but it’s a really serious and a well-built commercial 3D printer. I’m going to donate it to the chef school there at the community center and the tech center, after we do our classes. Then I’ve got a couple of other printers I’m going to give to the 3D printing class that we’ve got with kits that we built and don’t have room for them in the shop. That’s why I have a question about the 3D Printing Club could actually go serious as far as the 501(c)(7) type of a social club or whether I should just remain small business, a service disabled veteran-owned small business.
Just because it could become a nonprofit organization doesn’t mean it has to be a really big business either. It could still be a small one. There are some advantages of declaring yourself, to be a nonprofit from a tax perspective. It also opens up eligibility for a lot of other kinds of donations and grants. That might be a very good way to go. It sounds like you’re having a lot of fun with it. I love that you’re exploring with the food 3D printing. That’s an area of interest of ours as well. There’s a lot more development and things up and coming to happen in that segment of the industry. You mentioned desserts. What kind of foods does that printer print?
You can use cream cheese, chocolates. There is some type of meat, but I’m not sure I’m going to experiment with the meat. Maybe the chefs will. They sent me a hundred of these very large syringe tubes. I’m prepared to run through a demonstration in the class to be able to leave the printer there and let them experiment with it. They’ve got cheeses, meats, sauce. You can do things with anything that can get a little bit of solidity to it after cooling a bit. It’s mostly chocolates and there’s cookies. You can print cookie dough. You can get very fine detail. You can print an Eiffel tower out of chocolate with all the braces and rails and everything. It’s a very fine-detailed food printer.
I do think there’s a lot of great development going on there. I It’s great that you’re giving that to the culinary institutions when you’re done with it. I’m sure they could use that. There’s a big future for them. They’re the right generation too to be going after that.
It’s my community school. My son actually graduated from there. He went to the building trades and started his own plumbing business. It’s a successful school. It’s done a lot of good for the community. I helped save it back in the ‘80s when it was about ready to go under. We had special mileages and I got the political action committee to vote. We found out that just our subdivision alone saved it. Now it’s coming back and I like to see that, especially for vets, too, the kids need to be exposed to that technology.
It’s going to be incredibly critical. It’s going to be a requirement. At one point, a high school degree was all you needed, and then a lot of people would say, “You have to have a four-year college degree if you’re going to achieve a certain level of success in your career.” Now, regardless of what you do in terms of how high you go education, kids absolutely have to have some education in this technology because it’s just going to be more a part of everyday life. It’s going to be a huge part of most businesses going forward.
We need to spark the imagination of the kids. If they never see a 3D printer and never touched it and then they get to play with it and if they get to print with it, that and that spark will ignite something with them. They will possibly go into a professional career or a special interest the rest of their life, but they need to be sparked. They need to see it. They need to touch it. It needs to be there in case they want to try it. That’s why I like the Vo-Tech Centers. I learned a little bit there myself.
What you’re doing with the 3D Print Club plays a really important role in trying to share the knowledge and get exposure out there. You have a great resource there and I hope it continues to go really well for you.
Thank you. We’ve got a lot of reviews coming up next month. It’s going to be our busiest month for reviews that we publish and content creation. We’ve got a new YouTuber, Matt Snow on Inside the Mind of Matt. There’s a lot of exciting things happening next month during our big relaunch of the site and giveaway. I invite everybody out to the 3D Printing Club on Facebook, 3D Print Laser and Milling is also our sister site, 3D Printing Club for Teachers and Schools.
Al, thank you so much for being the guest now. I really do appreciate your coming out.
It was a lot of fun.
3D Printing Club, A Resource Community For Enthusiasts – Final Thoughts
I’m sure you could tell he’s just a really passionate guy about 3D printing and technology and vocational education in general. It’s his area of interest and what he’s decided spend his time and his retirement on. It’s just for the benefit of anyone that wants to participate. While it seems they are going to be selling 3D printers and things through their site, it’s really not motivated through profit and achieving certain sales. I don’t really know how many 3D printers they would sell over the site, but regardless, he’s a really genuine person with a great heart who wants to further education and help connect to people and help them learn and have a better experience in 3D printing.
We’ve got his websites and there are various YouTube channels with a lot of videos and also Facebook, social media groups, and channels that you may be interested to check out and perhaps become a participant in and all that information will be on 3DStartPoint.com. If you have anything you would like to share, you can also reach out to us on social media @3DStartPoint, especially on Facebook. We have most of our correspondence over social media there these days with our community. This has been Tom on the WTFFF 3D Printing Podcast.
- 3D Printing Club
- Al Shuryan
- Christopher William Kaminsky’s interview
- 3D Print Laser and Milling
- Bob McGrath
- Jim Weist
- Thomas Harrell
- Maker Hacks
- 3D Printer Chat
- Makers Workbench
- Inside the Mind of Matt
- Creality CR-10S
- Light in the Box
- Strategic Staffing Solutions
- Fusion 360
- William D. Ford Vocational Center
- 3D Printing Club’s Facebook
- 3D Print Laser and Milling
- 3D Printing Club for Teachers and Schools
- Al Shuryan’s Facebook
About Al Shuryan
Al Shuryan, a father of 2 and grandfather of 4 was a Service Disabled Veteran and Data Base Engineer. Now 62, Al lives in Michigan. Instead of just sitting around in retirement, he became a Mad Scientist and bought a Mad Science Franchise. He was suffering from pain so he had to give it up. Al has been a Social Media host since Bulleting Board Days and DJ RockCity on Solid Rock Radio. He founded more than 30 Facebook Groups and 10 pages, some he has given away that are still running strong. Al is a Social Media Consultant and Advisor to major Facebook entities, but his primary enjoyment is being the leader and manager of 3D Printing Club, 3D Printing Club for Teachers and Schools, 3D Print Laser and Milling and the www.3DPC.tech site. 3D Printing Club is the second largest 3D Printing related Facebook group in the world, while 3DPC.tech is a Serviced Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB). Always wanting to do business differently than the others, Al assembled a crew of independent product review technicians and content producers, with every member having their own channel, portal and social media associations. Their social following combined can easily match 3D Printing News Media. As a side hobby, Al donates to PCs4VETS Charity from building custom gaming computers that he auctions off, which gave him the opportunity to fund over 700 refurbished laptops for disabled veterans and repair local disabled veterans computers for free.
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