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The 3D printer technology has only been accessible to the masses quite recently. Deezmaker, a 3D printer manufacturer based in San Dimas, California, is one of the foremost leaders in this sphere. Led by its Founder and President, Diego Porqueras, the company manufactures 3D printer kits, which are sold online and at its retail store, the first one of its kind on the West Coast. Diego joins Tom Hazzard and Tracy Hazzard to talk about some hackable printers that his company has produced. He sees these technologies as a perfect fit for a diverse range of users, especially for educators.
Listen to the podcast here:
Hackable 3D Printers With Diego Porqueras
We’re here at SoCal Maker Con with Diego from Deezmaker, which is a cool company name. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your company?
My name is Diego. I founded Deezmaker. I started back in the day. I was in Hollywood doing camera tech work on movies and commercials. I found that DIY 3D printing movement thing going on the rip-rap and eventually got one. I thought I could make a better machine because I’m a little bit of a perfectionist. I created the Bukobot box. I put it on Kickstarter from some recommendations of other people and it did well. I ended up changing careers and opened up the first 3D printers here in the country.
How long has the store been open?
It’s been years. We opened in September 2012.
Part of your thing is a hackable 3D printer, is that right? What does that mean?
When we first started, I wanted to make a machine that people can grab and change it a bit. If they want, they could expand it. They can modify it. It’s minimalistic. It wasn’t in a box. It was pure raw frames and the grails. We started with that and we started refining things. We still have the Bukobot, which is still hackable. It’s still open source as far as doing our base and the boards. You could reprogram them, change them, and you could use a bunch of different software. We made the Bukito with open builds. You could always try to extend and modify that one too.
Who are you finding are your customers? I don’t want to say that the rip-rap movement has lost steam or whatever, but that they’re not as strong as they were at the beginning when the patents first opened up.
A lot of people ask me that question and they’re like, “What kind of people use this 3D printing?” I’m like, “There is no typical person that uses 3D printing.” All ranges, everything from thirteen-year-olds that put together our kits and are smart and they make little things for school with that. We’re in Pasadena, so people from JPL bought our machines and things like that. There are engineers that like it because it’s open. They could tweak it. We’ve had an aerospace company get them. They were asking for specific things and they said, “We want to use it because we could run these special materials through them.” I asked what materials and they’re like, “We’re not going to tell you.”Failure is okay as long as it helps you progress to your final goal. Click To Tweet
“It’s a secret. We can’t tell you.”
It’s a huge range. We’re focused a little more on educators and teachers. We realized after talking more and more about it with teachers that this is the most amazing tool that you could bring to a classroom for science and math and everything. When I grew up in high school, we had metal shop electronics, drafting, and woodshop. I started talking to teachers. They’re like, “We don’t have woodshop anymore. We don’t have this anymore.” They’re missing the whole, “Making with your hands,” thing. That’s why I even pushed even more into 3D printing because of the fact that it’s an amazing tool to get kids and teachers. It’s a good tool to learn amazing things.
We like to talk about it all the time. We talk about it as the thing that it teaches more so than math, science, art, and all of that. It teaches successful failure, which you cannot get in today’s world of everybody getting an award, which is how it is nowadays in most sports, school systems, and everything. When you can teach someone that it’s okay to fail, you scrape it off the plate and you start again, that’s good.
We started our Makerspace. In addition, we had our shop. I wanted it to be a Makerspace, but we got busy with production and building machines. We eventually a couple of doors down opened up. We took that as a Makerspace. One of the first things people put behind the door as you leave was, “Make sure you fail beautifully.”
That’s a great message.
It’s something that we always talk about in the shop. It’s okay to fail because it’s one of the best ways to learn things, as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody. The failure is okay as long as it helps you progress and get to that final goal that you’re looking for.
I completely believe and experienced that. Too much that is misunderstood is that failure is not a good thing. Failure can be a good thing. It’s how you respond to that. 3D printing being iterative, it makes so much sense.
It conditions you to respond properly to it. It’s like, “Okay, do it again.” “Do it again and do it differently,” instead of doing the same thing again and again. That’s also another thing that it pushes.
I don’t know if you’ve heard the story on JPL about failure and their parachute for the Mars Lander, the Curiosity Rover.
I don’t remember.
I’ll tell you quickly. It could be a long story but it’s not. They were testing the parachutes. They deployed three giant parachutes when it landed. They went to their first test to the wind tunnel and everything. They put the parachute in the wind tunnel. They fired it up and it ripped apart. They’re like, “Oh, shoot. It failed. Let’s find out.” They’re like, “Nobody had the high-speed cameras on it.” They’re like, “We can’t figure out how it failed. Let’s reset. Let’s do it again.” They did it twelve more times and it worked perfectly. They were like, “We need it to fail. We want to know why it failed.” Eventually, 12 or 13 times, it finally failed again. They had it perfectly in high-speed cameras and they figured out the exact flaw that was happening. The whole crew was like, “We need this to fail.” It’s like, “JPL says that a lot.” It was weird.
It’s not a good thing to be successful.
That’s a cool story I like to tell. It’s a good example of how failure does help you develop better things.
That’s a fantastic story. Thank you for sharing. It’s a good thing they did it in the lab and not in the field.
You don’t want that to fail on Mars. There’s no repair guy over there.
What’s on top for you with the teachers and everything? What’s your plan for going forward with helping them?You can’t just grab a 3D printer, push a button, and expect it to work. It requires some work. Click To Tweet
One of the ideas to promote 3D printing was to make the Bukito 3D printer. It’s the little one that we carry. We made it so it will be robust and more reliable. It’s simpler to use and affordable too, so teachers could grab them and stuff like that. We’re trying to make that as a tool that teachers feel comfortable using and they know it’s not going to break down randomly all the time. They have to readjust things or it’s not going to print. They only print 1 out of every 10 tries. We want a robust machine and that’s what that focus was. We’ve already had a lot of schools get the Bukito because of that.
We hear a lot of teachers are struggling with the curriculum side of that and getting trained themselves. Do you have something to help them with that? Do you have resources?
We do offer staff training. We do have classes that are Makerspace every couple of months for 3D printing. It’s called zero to plastic. You come in with not knowing anything and you walk out with the 3D printed keychain that you created. We can’t hit all the points but we hit the major parts. We try to make it so it’s open-ended. It’s not specific to our machine. It will help them no matter where they go with 3D printing.
It’s important what you’re doing. You’re making machines. You’re selling machines, but you’re also providing an environment with Makerspace for people to learn, train, and giving them support, which is what we have told people on our show. People ask us about reliability, “How reliable is a 3D printer?” It’s hard to answer that question, but we recommend going with either a company that you know you have a service plan or buy from a local dealer that’s going to give you support and you’re both. You’re a company selling printers but you’re also almost like a long pole in a sense. You’re providing support at your Makerspace. That’s a powerful combination.
We have a lot of schools, even Caltech has our printers. They’re down the street from us obviously. We try to use the Makerspace for a place people could come. Sometimes it’s one detail that they need to pass over a hump that they’re stuck on. If we’re there, they could answer that one question. When I first started 3D printing, I saw it on the news for a second. I’m like, “What is this?” I researched and it’s all over the place, but there was nowhere to see an actual 3D printer at that time. I saw a meetup at Crash Space, which is another Makerspace. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it in Culver City. They had a meet up there so I went there and it was mind-opening. People brought their printers. They answered all the questions that I had. That got the ball rolling on 3D printing on my side. It’s that one thing. You build a 3D printer and you’re like, “Why doesn’t this work?” You ask somebody and they’re like, “It’s this one option on that software that will fix it.”
The purpose and the reason why we started the show is because it’s hard when you’re out there not to give up. It’s trying. It tests all of your patience on all sorts of levels. We have years of design experience and it still took us nine months to make something I was proud of. You don’t want someone to buy it and then say, “This isn’t worth it.” It’s the printer that’s the problem. You can help them through that with some information, question and answer, or hands-on help.
Because of the Makerspace and people come in and talk to us, we want to make sure they don’t have the misconception that a 3D printer, “You grab it, push a button, and it works.” Unless you have the $40,000 ones and the service contracts, then that will happen. For the smaller little printers that you get, that doesn’t happen.
It requires work.
We explain that it’s like cooking. If you know your ingredients and stuff, you’ll make amazing food. If you throw stuff in the microwave and expect this amazing dish to come out, it’s not going to happen.
I can’t agree more. That’s a great analogy.
Diego, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy booth to talk to us.
I can 3D print, but I can’t cook. 3D printing is much easier than cooking.
We’re going to get some more images of your machine to go along with this so everybody will know where they can find you. Thank you very much.
Thank you, guys. This was awesome.
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