Inventor Stephen Chininis also teaches Industrial Design at Georgia Tech.

I’m an industrial designer and so I basically design products that are going to be in some sort of retail environment. What I’m using the MakerBot for mostly is to test out those designs right before I spend a lot of money to have them tooled. It’s working really well for that.

My partners and I invent products and then we pitch them to companies that we know. If they manufacture them they pay us a royalty, so it’s a bit of a different business model than the normal design firm. So with a 3D printer and Xenon™ we’re able to show them the actual concept in a working prototype. Before we were sort of cobbling up things out of whatever we could make them out of. If it had a moving part in it, it was a hard thing to model, but with something like a MakerBot you can do it pretty fast.

A lot of times when doing student work they’ll show me a concept and say, ‘It’ll work like this and it’ll look really good.’ And I say, ‘No, no, no. How it’s going to work and how it’s going to look is what we do. You can’t just say that. This is a situation where you’ve got to print the part and you’ve got to make the part good enough so that I can use it for what you say it’s going to be used for.’

Stephen Chininis

Steven Reiss is a freelance industrial designer with over 35 years of experience mostly in the toy and pet industries.

Right now we’re mostly prototyping. I’ve done a couple of the products on what you’d call a ‘limited run’ where I can put eight of them on a platform and run them all at the same time. For the larger items they’re prototypes. And they’re good enough to bolt together, test them, and take a certain amount of abuse. If it’s a dog item it’s something that can fall without shattering, but from there they’ll take my 3D files that I’ve done on Xenon and probably send them overseas to China where they’ll have tooling done.

Steven Reiss

Designer Walter Arnold is a native of Switzerland where he just finished a project for Montana International using Cobalt™, Graphite™ and 3D printing.

It’s working out very well because you can use Cobalt, you can design all the things that you want. And sometimes when you’ve made two or three different prototype parts you think, well, now it’s perhaps time to print it out, to have it in your hands, to check dimensions, the feeling and how it looks. It’s a good combination with Cobalt and a 3D printer. You can model, remodel and sometimes you print a part and then you think about it, you sleep a night, and then another day you copy paste some part, then remodel it and print it again until you have the perfect part that fits.

For modeling purposes I use Cobalt, of course, especially if I’m doing 3D printing because I need to make the STL files and I only can do it in Cobalt. When it comes to detailing then I still prefer Graphite for 2D. I’m an old Vellum® user. So I copy the geometry from Cobalt to Graphite and them make my technical drawings there. I have for example 10 or 15 different parts modeled in Cobalt and I choose the best part and make the 2D drawings in Graphite. And if there is a little something to modify on the part I do it in 2D mostly and send it to production. The flexibility is the best part for me.

Walter Arnold