IMPACT 0438: JUMPING INTO THE WORLD OF 3D PRINTING
Hello! I am Matt Chiu. I am 30 years old and I am passionate about 3D printing. I graduated from the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), which is where I picked up 3D printing. I now run a startup called Imagene Creative, where I advocate and share my passion for 3D printing with many.
This is me with my favourite 3D print, a T-Rex skull. It has always been my dream to be able to own a dinosaur fossil, and now with 3D printing, it is no longer just a dream as it has become a reality.
3D printing has brought many benefits to our everyday lives as we no longer have to be reliant on industrial manufacturers. With the ease of access to free 3D modelling software and a free 3D STL (3D printing compatible file) database like “Thingiverse”, the customisation of products to meet individual needs is no longer a luxury. It is in fact, very easily achievable for people like you and me.
With the possibility of decentralised manufacturing in homes, making products can be done much more conveniently. During the initial phase when COVID-19 first struck Singapore in 2020, a group of makers in Singapore, including myself, formed a non-profit group called MakersAgainstCovid19.
During my time in the group, we 3D printed over 50,000 ear savers to be distributed to many frontline workers across Singapore. The distribution of ear savers helped to bring additional comfort in such difficult times. The campaign ended up gathering over 100 makers around Singapore to chip in and produce ear savers within a short span of time.
Another example of a creative use of 3D printing was the construction of the SUTD 10X Time Capsule. As a 3D printing enthusiast, I was thrilled to be contacted to assist in the project by Professor Carlos Banon and Professor Felix Raspall, which consisted of a 3D printed pavilion that is one-of-a-kind. For the Time Capsule, the façade of the pavilion was to be covered with over 3,000 uniquely designed 3D printed pieces.
Traditional manufacturing would require creating moulds to cast the wanted pieces. However, since all 3,000 tiles were unique, the only viable solution was to 3D print them. Although the task was difficult given the quantity involved, this engagement allowed me to see the opportunity of commercial 3D printing using commonly available 3D printers.
At the end of 2021, it was an honour to be engaged by the National Heritage Board (NHB) to be an artist to support the conservation effort through the Preservation of Site and Monument 50 (PSM50) event that was held in the National Museum of Singapore.
Due to my backgrounds in both architecture and 3D printing, I was contacted by the NHB to see if I could recreate 3D virtual models of 11 precious heritage monuments in Singapore and eventually produce tiny miniature models of them through 3D printing.
Despite the excitement to undertake this task, it was not simple as the monuments were constructed a long time ago and the building documentations were incomplete. To work around such constraints, I had to rely on available resources, such as the assistance of Google Maps, to observe inaccessible street views and capture façade details. I also utilised Google Earth to capture the roofing details as these details were impossible to be found on the Internet.
The fruit of my labour was very rewarding when I saw the smiles of the visitors appreciating the local monuments through the details reflected on the 3D printed models. With 3D printing, all 11 monuments across the island could now be brought under one roof for the public to appreciate the multicultural and rich history of Singapore.
I constantly share my passion for 3D printing with others as I believe that 3D printing can benefit our everyday lives. I would say that 3D printing is a way of not having to rely on available solutions that are in the market. The ability to 3D print has tuned my mind to look beyond just what is available and to think of what is the best possible solution in every situation. It also helps to expand my creativity in coming up with these solutions.
I have taught design and 3D printing classes to many, ranging from primary school students to the elderly. Through my experience, I have observed that everyone contains the seed to be creative. However, whether such seeds can be nurtured into fine trees is up to each individual.
I’m dedicated to the advocacy and sharing the benefits of 3D printing to those who have yet to come across such a wonderful tool. I hope to create a better world through 3D printing!
This article was published on Mar 17, 2022