Behind the magic of 3D printing



Tom Van Bragt’s experience in a research hatchery

Not really knowing what to expect from the research and development subject, I started the project in late September 2015. In that time I got more used to my new life in Turku and people around me. The R&D project meant to me: discussing a total new subject and getting to know a different method of working around a subject in group.

The subject we worked on was 3D printing. The only thing I knew about this new technology was its existence. When we started the project and the research, I was stunned. Also my questions got answered. It was first hard to believe that a machine can print 3D objects. How does that work without magic? Are there science fiction elements involved you see in a Space odyssey or Star Wars?

The importance of our work was to find alternatives for the damaging 3D materials and discovering some cutting edge innovations that can help companies reducing waste and pollution. Luckily we were not the first people on earth that started these research and questions. We found tons of information on the internet and we used books, information by companies and we even contacted some youtube bloggers.

My group included 5 persons and there was an interesting variety of nationalities. I was surrounded by France, Spain, Germany and Czech Republic. To have people from different countries, it is only a great advantage for the research. The list of resources got bigger and all the stories and articles were worldwide. My feeling with the people I worked with was very positive. They were all very passionate about what they were doing in life. I learned a lot from their interests and studies. They weren’t afraid of working around 3D printing. The opposite, we all saw it as a chance; knowledge that was very useful for our future. As a normal workgroup we had our discussions and opinion differences but it was healthy and necessary in a project like this.

During 3 months there were meetings, visit to a company and a few training presentations. Facebook was the group’s communication medium for further meetings, dates and the found information.

I liked the training presentation. It’s something I’m going to use in future presentations and projects. We did the training presentation in front of a group of students who were way much informed about the things we were telling. I got questions I couldn’t answer, forgot my text a few times and sometimes I was clueless about the things I was presenting. It was nerve wracking and I felt embarrassed about my bad preparation. All this negative elements were working points for me. I thought it was extremely useful and it made my part of the work much better in the end.

My feelings with our subject are mixed. 3D printing is amazing but I think there are still some serious issues that need to change. I will be a 100% fan when 3D printing goes totally green.

I was happy with the end results and the reactions we got from our audience. I also had the same feeling as ending a long night of studying; a head full of information and proud of the knowledge I gained.
Text: Tom Van Bragt


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