Building a Better 3d Printer

“These are game-changing technologies…with the potential to change medicine, agriculture, and other critical industries. One goal, for example, is to 3D print an organ one day—using your own cells.”

 

The artist as entrepreneur? It may not be intuitive for many connections but once you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Two MICA graduates, both of whom earned their BFAs in interdisciplinary sculpture, have built a business around developing a better 3D printer. Harrison Tyler ’14 (Interdisciplinary Sculpture BFA) and Evan Roche ’14 (Interdisciplinary Sculpture BFA) became interested in digital fabrication while students at MICA and created the first prototype as part of their thesis project.

Today, Tyler and Roche are serving as MICA’s first Entrepreneurs-In-Residence. As part of their residency, they have created a two-day Buildclass and are teaching MICA community members how to build, program, and repair their own 3D printers. Participants tell Tyler and Roche what they want to print, and the sculptors-turned-engineering experts help customize the printers to create the desired end result.

The duo plans to offer workshops around Baltimore, eventually creating a core group of 3D makers. Tyler and Roche’s company, Jimmi Research, also works with early stage researchers at institutions such as the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine to produce customized 3D printers capable of printing objects using biomaterials.

“These are game-changing technologies,” says Tyler, “with the potential to change medicine, agriculture, and other critical industries. One goal, for example, is to 3D print an organ one day—using your own cells.”

Tyler, who spent his childhood years playing with Legos, Tinker Toys, and K’NEX, channeled his spatial abilities not into science but into sculpting. Making the leap from sculptor to 3D printing expert was simple.

“I don’t come from an engineering or science background,” says Tyler. “But there are so many crossovers between art and design and 3D printing, it felt like a natural transition. As an artist, you have to be thinking entrepreneurially if you want to sustain yourself and continue your practice.”

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