Today we are bringing you a follow-up interview that was mentioned in our episode with Brandon Davis where we talked about his mission with the new Blue Dragon and end user 3D printing, of FFF 3D printing. I think this is really interesting that we’re focusing on people who are really choosing FFF printers for end use production. This has happened multiple times now.
I really liked doing that because I think that 3D printing, the obvious use of it has been prototyping, rapid prototyping. There are a lot of companies focused on just specifically that. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, and we believe in that and are very happy with that, I think that we’re really finding more and more, especially with recent interviews and recent companies that we’re coming in contact within the industry, that more and more companies are finding that FFF 3D printing is not just the cheapest solution or the easiest solution to get in into, but it’s actually, after researching and trying and testing all different options for manufacturing their product, that they’re finding FFF 3D printing is the right choice for their manufacturing needs.
I think maybe because it’s more flexible. That’s really just such an interesting thing and that’s what they’re discovering here. Because here partnering with Blue Dragon to make the printer accommodate the materials and do the things that they need. The company we’re talking to is Jumpstart CSR, Corporate Social Responsibility is what the CSR stands for. They’re looking at how you can improve the human condition and health wellness, that kind of thing, through sensor technology, software enabled systems and others things like that, wearables. They’re focusing on all of that. We have George Gosieski of JumpStart. I’m really interested to hear how they got started and where they’re going with this. Let’s go to the interview and we’ll talk about it more after.
Listen to the podcast here:
End User 3D Printing
George, thanks so much for joining us. I’m so glad Brandon Davis hooked us up.
Thank you very much. It’s a pleasure to be here and I’m looking forward to chatting about JumpStart and what we do.
Why don’t we start a little bit with the description of what JumpStart is for our audience and everything?
We can think of ourselves as a hardware enabled SaaS, Software as a Service, with a focus on predicting and preventing musculoskeletal disorders, in layman’s terms would be overuse and repetitive stress injuries.
I can totally relate to that. I had one of those. It was pregnancy caused actually. When you get pregnant, you swell, and it basically closed up my entire carpal tunnel area. It wasn’t like it was from doing something repetitive, but pretty much anything I did felt repetitive. It was the same effect.
There you go. We’re thinking that just about one in two Americans are suffering from some type of overstressed or overused and repetitive stress injury, musculoskeletal disorder. We figured there’s a need to address that issue.
How are you addressing it?
We actually use three different technologies. We have wearable sensors that, at this point, will fit in your shoe. A cognitive expert system, not like an expert system, but one that thinks for itself, and then we use additive manufacturing in the form of 3D printing to create a distributed manufacturing or what we like to think of as a point of fabrication versus point of sale solution.
Go into that 3D printing one. The point of fabrication versus sale solution is pretty cool. I want to know what that means.
We’re able to, in the case of a footbeds, print a set of footbeds for you that are personal ergonomic products in about twenty minutes through a networked chain of printers which will reside in different locations, such as physical occupational therapist offices, your local drug store, like Walgreens or CVS. You would just pick the most convenient printer to you and twenty minutes later you’d have a set of footbeds.
Theoretically, it’s like the mattress that you dial in your setting. If your repetitive stress got worst, you might need a different version which you could go quickly printed at Walgreens and adjust your weight distribution?
There’s actually one step further than that. There is a dial in your number type aspect to this but it’s all performed by the cognitive expert system that’s collecting all this data about your bio mechanical profile and your gait. It uses that information then to assess what your risks are for different types of musculoskeletal disorders or injuries. Also, it looks at how it will optimize your form to what we like to think of as preferred motion, or the way your body would like to move when it’s not in heels or in some type of gear for sports, so that you can actually function in a low risk optimal way.
This is so detailed. You said footbeds. The wearable biosensors are collecting information, but the footbed, is that essentially an insole that goes in a shoe that supports you properly? Is that the idea?
That’s the idea. We have a set of proprietary sensors that will be extensible to other parts of the body, but we’re starting with the feet. It’s a skin that attaches to the footbed. It’s removable and transferable to your new footbeds when you replace them, and an electronics module that fits into the footbed. It’s all self-contained, fits in your shoe, replaces your existing footbed or insole, and is significantly cheaper than prescription orthotics or footbeds.
Wow. You’re not attaching it in the process of 3D printing. You’re 3d printing the footbed itself, but the skin goes on top of it afterwards?
Yes. Then we insert the electronics just like you would with any type of SD card. It’s a removable form factor that you can transfer between footbeds. Because we’re thinking that if you have casual shoes, you may want to check how those shoes are performing and how your footbeds are performing on some periodic basis, like once a quarter. You really want to be collecting data around your activities, through your running shoes or soccer shoes or whatever other type of shoes you’re wearing.
Can you now imagine if you collected all this data that JumpStart has and then created your custom shoes with Feetz, you would just have the ultimate comfort and safety for you. Safety and sustainability too.
It’s interesting you mentioned custom shoes, because we’re actually in the early stages of working with a national retailer around creating a custom fitted off-the-shelf shoe system.
You would actually do this point of fabrication at the retail store?
That would be a very feasible, easy thing to do.
Like a kiosk or something, or would it be something managed by the retail store?
It could be either. Initially, we were thinking it would be managed by the retail store but as we get a more sophisticated generations of 3D printers it would be more self-service. It’s a point of fabrication but we actually term the technology as intelligent digital materialization.
Big language here. As you have this point of fabrication going on at these places, what kind of challenges have you found with the printers and the materials and all of those things?
When we started this out, you’d spend 60% of your time fiddling with the printer, trying to get a decent print and then you’d watch it to make sure it didn’t fail somewhere in the printing process. We decided that just wasn’t going to work. We came up with this idea of a photo copier experience for your 3D printer. When you’re thinking of a photocopier, you might put your paper in the feed, you press the button, and out comes the expected result, a copy. You might have to add paper, you might have to change the toner cartridge, but that’s the extent of your engagement with that photocopier. That’s what we’re moving towards with Blue Dragon and the printer we’re developing with them.
You’re customizing this printer particularly for your purposes?
I wouldn’t say that it’s going to be specific to footbeds, but it’s going to be specific to our point of fabrication concept. We can actually print out other products, whether it’s orthopaedic devices or sports equipment, things like that, but our initial focus is around the health and wellness market and footbeds. Because as our medical advisory board puts it, it all starts with the feet.
I can understand that. That makes a lot of sense. What types of material are you making these footbeds out of then? Is it standard material or have you had to develop something unique?
We started out with standard material, TPU. We’re actually working with a group called Covestro to develop specific line of materials for us.
Perfect. TPU would seem to make sense as a more flexible type of material to put in into your shoe. I like that, that makes sense.
It also depends on the application because as an athlete, if you’re wearing soccer shoes, you got less real estate to work with. We’re going to have to use different materials to achieve properties for them that you wouldn’t necessarily have to consider in a casual shoe.
Thinner densities, all of those things you have to consider as you’re developing the material?
Right. What’s really interesting about our software is that it will take all this data and it will then size the footbed to your shoe. It will look at the types of materials it has available and select which materials are more suited for a particular region in the footbed that it’s designing for you. We’ll then look at the structural design and alter that throughout the footbed to optimize its performance. Then, it will look at infill density. Once it’s finished, it will show you what the footbed is, provide you a report around the rationale for the design of the footbed. If you choose to purchase it or your doctor decides to print it out for you, twenty minutes later, you’ll have that footbed available to you.
This process starts with the wearable biosensors. Is that a generic insole that’s not made specific to you, it’s just general sizes? You’re collecting data and then deciding how to make your custom footbed, is that how I understand it?
Actually, it’s more of a semi-custom because when you go in to order your first footbed, you’re going to create an account. You’ll be able to fill out a profile. As you fill out the profile, the application will let you know when it has sufficient information to create you a basic footbed. The more information you provide, the more customized that footbed can become, short of the live data coming in from the sensor system. You’ll end up with a semi-custom footbed that’s fit to your shoe, say a Nike Air Jordan size 10 wide. We have that shoe in our database. If we don’t, we’ll ultimately add it. You can manually input the data on your shoe if it’s not on the database. It gives you what we would consider a semi-custom footbed in our terms, but would be equivalent to a custom footbed for over-the-counter, like Dr. Scholl’s or Superfeets or something like that.
That’s why the partnership with the shoe companies make so much sense, because if you’ve got already their shoe design data, which is usually in the computer to begin with, you’ve already got shape, form, and all of those things, making it easier for you to dial in the remainder of it.
That’s correct. In fact, what this does for a company like a shoe company is that they can now get research and development data around the use of the shoe, not just the qualitative data that they normally collect. When they send a shoe to what I think of as a lab rat. The other aspects of this is that the typical cycle for product development would be you go through design, manufacturing, assembly, packaging, and distribution before it gets to the customer. We’re actually moving the manufacturing to the point where the customer picks up the products. It gets rid of the centralize manufacturing. The assembly doesn’t actually exist anymore, nor does the packaging or the distribution in traditional sense.
Because pretty much, you walk out with it.
That’s right. It’s more like a software model where you’re ordering a piece of software online and you download it to your computer. Now, we’re doing the same thing with 3D printed product. That material then is recyclable, or I should say, it’s a closed loop system because that material can be reused for printing new footbeds. You’d never have to actually throw it away in the landfill, we’d pick it up at one of our centers, whether it’s at Walgreens or your clinician’s office, and recycle that material into new footbeds.
Let’s step back all the way, because now I’m very curious. How did you get started doing this?
To be honest with you, I didn’t. My son at seventeen was working on 3D printed custom bike saddles through a pressured data he would collect off the bike saddle as you would ride around town. I’m an avid cyclist. I do ultra distance unsupported cycling. I was really keen on that idea. I went out and purchased some pedals that collect a bunch of data, for a lot of money, and my son turns to me and says, “I could have put that in your shoe for about $500.” I’m going, “Now, you tell me.” That’s when I asked him about, “Can you extend this out to just casual shoes or street shoes?” He said, “Yes.”
I had an injury on a 400k that led to knee and foot surgery, and through that process, I’m talking to the podiatrist about what my son is doing. He goes, “Could they do prescription orthotics?” The answer turned out to be yes. While he was going through a math and science specialty school in high school, studying remotely at Johns Hopkins, he was working on all these stuff. After a year of tinkering with that, I decided, “If you’re that serious about it, I’ll be your first investor. But I get to put my management team in place.”
At seventeen, you don’t have a lot of business experience or connections, so you really need somebody that has a network that they can reach out to and start promoting and developing the business. I said, “I’ll do that and fund you through Beta. After that, you should be able to take off and run this thing on your own.”
Fantastic. What stage are you guys at right now?
We’re getting ready to do trials with the US army this quarter. We’ve had inquiries from FIFA, the international football league, to demo the product here in February. We’re moving along. We’re in discussions with some global healthcare wellness product distributors and working with clinicians on the occupational physical therapy side of things.
Wonderful. It’s so exciting and exciting for your son too though, to be able to concentrate. This is the thing that we see so often in these businesses, is that all of a sudden this inventor, this founder, is thrown into, “I got to manage the company” and they get out of being able to handle the research side of things and stay in the area at which they contribute the most to the business. You’ve been able to do that, that’s fantastic.
Now, we have a team of six people, a medical advisory board, business advisory board, and we’re clicking along at a fairly good click. We’re thinking that this will be retailing for around $200, which would include the footbed, the sensors, electronics and induction charging plate. If you were to buy something that would be relatively equivalent to what we offer, you’d be spending closer to $1,000 for a $600 wearable and $400 prescription orthotics, and you still wouldn’t know whether they’re performing or not.
We think there’s a pretty good value proposition for that initial purchase. Another aspect of this when we talk about performance, because we’ve talked about the healthcare side, we can actually do what we call perishable points. We can understand what your baseline physiology is, and if you decide you want to run a 10K in 30 minutes, we also have a pretty good idea of what’s involved in that.
How much damage you’re going to do to your body in the process.
Or how fit you have to be to do that damage. We can assign you a set of points that represent your improved fitness as you move towards being able to run that 10K. If you stop working out for a week, those points will perish based on a set of variables that could include your age, your level of fitness and things like that. You’ll always understand what you have to do to get to that ability to run that 10K. When you’re actually running that 10K, we can help you understand when your form is deteriorating, when you might have to push a little harder or ease back in order to be able to accomplish that 10K in 30 minutes. That’s the performance side of things.
How are things going with the dialling in and the printer side of things? You’re talking about your partnership with Blue Dragon on this. Do you really think that, at the end of the day, it’s best to have a specialized printer that’s just for this particular purpose? Or do you think that a printer that can do more than just footbeds, for instance, do any kind of orthotics at some point?
This printer will do that. We’re starting with the footbeds but it’s being tuned for the types of materials that we feel we’re going to be able to mix and match in order to meet the broader needs of the population. Whether we’re doing footbeds or walking boots or casts or some other type of products, handheld sporting good, we’ll be able to do that within the technology that’s being developed. It will be just maybe resizing the print bed to be able to accommodate the larger product or creating a larger volume.
It’s really being a lot more material sensitive and less end-product sensitive?
That’s correct. It’s also looking at controlling the environment at which is being printed, because having an exposed print bed to the environment just wreaks havoc with both the materials and with the printing process.
George, would you think that this business would work using another manufacturing method? Or is 3D printing really enabling it to happen? Was that the killer part of it that made it, “Okay, this is real”?
We started out as a software company. Our real focus has been around this cognitive expert system. As we moved forward, we realized that there weren’t wearable sensors out there that could get us the consistent, high quality data that we needed, so we moved to that area. As we were exploring and developing that, we realized that the system could actually take this data and generate personalized ergonomic products, and then we go, “How will you do that?” You’d have subtractive manufacturing like CNC machines and molding and a bunch of other types of more traditional methods. Then you have this thing called additive manufacturing in 3D printing, with a number of different types of technologies associated with that.
As we explored which one was most appropriate, we felt that probably the technology easiest to disseminate across the marketplace, particularly to clinics and hospitals, would be 3D printing. As we began to explore that, we found that there were a lot of limitations to the existing printers. I’d almost called it as a hacker’s experience. We go, “This ain’t going to work if we’re going to try to roll this out to non-hackers.”
We looked across the spectrum. We looked at very high-end machines at $250,000 and we looked at less expensive machines in $1,000 to $3,000 range. Just through a serendipitous encounter, we ended up getting introduced to Brandon over at Blue Dragon. It turned out that they were working on some very cool technologies with respect to 3D printing that could meet our needs. We’ve decided to form this strategic relationship to push the technology even further.
Fantastic. We really like to see 3D printing being used for end-use product application, especially the distributed manufacturing or the point of fabrication. We like that name. I’m glad to see this happening. We’ll look forward to seeing and watching how your company does with this over the coming years, hearing how the trials go and everything like that. Please keep us posted.
Absolutely, we would be glad to.
Thank you so much, George. We really appreciate your time today. I’m sure our audience is going to find this quite interesting. We’re always amazed what different businesses we find that are using 3D printing in new ways.
I appreciate your time and interest. I really look forward to engaging with you more in the future.
End User 3D Printing – Final Thoughts
I think that that was really interesting to hear, the combination that they’re building within the company. Their end-use of 3D printing that they’re doing there, he calls it the point of fabrication. I love that name and I love the idea of that, that point of fabrication really becoming simpler and one single component within it, because their sensors are extremely important. The sensors that they’re building in are informing better point of fabrication and the point of fabrication is informing the sensors. There’s a whole bunch of collaboration going just in the parts that they’re combining and the information that they’re combining.
It’s fascinating when you really hear about the level of detail that they’re getting into with their product and the service they’re providing. But then also, Like we said before, they’re working with Blue Dragon to make the machine what they needed to be to meet their needs. I like that flexibility that Blue Dragon is giving a customer like this.
I think the case that’s going on, we’re seeing that common thread going on. We’ve been talking about that now, a few episodes in a row, Feetz and Lucy Beard, with Brandon and Blue Dragon’s machine and now with George. You’re talking about that tie thread through that the machines have to be more flexible to be able to accommodate whatever end-use 3D printing needs you have to be able to be the point of fabrication that you need.
Great for them. I know they’re a new company. They’re definitely a work in progress. I would still classify them as a startup. But an exciting one and certainly we hope they do well. We’ll have to check back in on them six months down the road and see where they’ve gotten. I would love to hear how the army and the FIFA trials come out. That will definitely be something worth checking on them with, and then seeing how actually their use of those printers, because I haven’t received them yet. We’ll hear how the Blue Dragon has been installed for them and working for them. I’m still dying to get my Blue Dragon in here to do the review. It’s supposed to be coming. We’re hanging in for that, definitely in the first half of 2017. Brandon, I hope you’re listening.
Anyway, if you are interested in getting in touch with JumpStart CSR or finding more about their US army and FIFA trials, you can go to the blog post at 3DStartPoint.com and of course, you can always reach us on Facebook and Pinterest, @3DStartPoint. Thanks so much for listening, everybody. We’ll talk to you next time. This has been Tom and Tracy, on the WTFFF 3D Printing podcast.
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