Bilby 3D has just officially opened its store and service center in Sydney. Brent Balinski spoke to co-owner Lee Bilby about the joys of being a part of the 3D printing geek community, the democratization of manufacturing offered by it, and some new printing materials.
“And it took us on a path for a long time, where we were determined to change the world for others who were walking the same path as us.”
It was a willingness to try that saw the Bilbys start importing their own 3D printer filament, both because there was no one else to do it and because they saw an opportunity. to provide other “geeks”.
It’s the same attitude that led them to tinker around and compete with each other over who could build the best machine, only to eventually import that as well.
“Like everyone was doing back then, we had been importing all of our plastic filament for a long time,” said Lee Bilby.
“And you had to get it through customs, and nobody at customs knew what it was either, and it was pretty tedious. And we thought “that’s pretty silly; we own a distribution house, buy it wholesale and other geeks like us can buy it from us and we’ll ship it. ”
Makers before there was really a word for the Maker subculture, their ‘tryout’ saw their 3D printing business grow too big for their old Bega headquarters and move to Alexandria, right outside. from the Sydney CBD.
Noting with pride that they have supplied Ford, Boeing, the Department of Defense and nearly every university in Australia, the couple have just officially opened their store, training and service center in Sydney, with plans to meet the needs of businesses and city enthusiasts.
The couple sell machines including MakerBot, Roland and Printrbot (with whom they partnered up last October), maintain and upgrade machines, run classes, and sell consumables (some of which are made by themselves) in Alexandria. .
“In part, we’ve written custom profiles that work, for example, with MakerBot software to get resolutions outside of what they say out of the box,” said Lee Bilby. Manufacturers’ monthly courses, which also cover things like CAD design and face milling techniques.
“For example, 50 micron prints that you couldn’t do without custom software: we teach people about that.”
Among the filaments sold are new offerings from the company (which opened a factory to manufacture them in China about two and a half years ago).
These include filaments that change color when exposed to UV or heat, a composite wood (Laywoo brand, manufactured by CC Products in Germany) and new metal-based products.
There was a definite demand for newer materials, as seen at this month’s Consumer Electronics Show event in Las Vegas, Bilby agreed.
“And there is so much demand for the metal,” she said.
“In November of last year we released the bronze filament, we have copper coming out next month and even gold filament coming out. And it’s awesome [laughs]. “
Also new – unveiled at the event – two new products from Printrbot: the Printrbot Plus under $ 2,000 prosumer level and an upgrade for Printrbot Simple 2.
Regarding the partnership with Printrbot, Bilby said it was a natural match as the companies shared a similar philosophy. This involved embracing the DIY spirit of Maker culture, making the technology as accessible as possible, and accommodating users’ desire to tweak things accordingly (Printrbot founder Brook Drumm designed his machines as “perhaps the easiest 3D printer to customize and modify“).
The ability to get things done on your own and the highly advertised “democratization of manufacturing“Deals through 3D printing are great things,” she said. And that was great news for local small businesses.
“People who have an idea and who in the past could never have brought it to market,” she said.
“But through 3D printing, they can get that idea, they can play around with iterations and designs, and in some cases, can 3D print the end product and bring it to market.”