While it might seem intimidating and even out of reach for most, STAX3D is turning this detailed process into an accessible medium that anyone can use in their daily lives.
Located at SanTan Village in Gilbert, the new business had its ribbon-cutting ceremony in the middle of June and is already becoming a go-to place to visit to have your ideas printed — or, pick up a printer for your home.
The initial idea of STAX3D began when the husband and wife team of Jason and Alisa Yocum met. He came from an engineering background, and she was an artist. The couple decided to invest in a 3D printer to help with a sculpture that Alisa was making. They never looked back.
“This is a marriage of our two disciplines,” Alisa said. “He’s very mathematical, and I’m an artist and very organic. This is the one place where those two can come together seamlessly.”
All the walls of the store are lined with everything from 3D printed toys to tools and even a dress. Its standout feature is a human modeling program that can take an image of a person and turn it into their very own “mini-me.”
STAX3D has already created models of seniors in their cap and gowns, high school mascots and business card holders.
“You start with 40 or 50 images,” Jason explained. “It takes pixels and colors and merges them together to make it one look.”
The ultimate goal of STAX3D is to sell printers, but the store is filling in the role as a starting point for getting an idea off the ground.
“There’s a young gentleman that has been working on a line of toys for himself, and he finally got it to come to fruition by printing it here,” Alisa said. “It’s really fun to be able to bring things to life for people who never thought that they could because they aren’t engineers or graphic designers.”
A website called thingiverse.com allows anyone to upload a model for 3D printing that can then be taken to STAX3D for printing. Jason said this has allowed the technology to become more accessible to a much larger group of people.
“In the past, you’ve had to have these very expensive software programs,” he said. “Now, it’s cheaper, easier, smaller and more compact so that everyone can use it.”
Alisa echoed that, adding that 3D printing has opened up a new world of technology to an audience that otherwise would have never bothered to show an interest.
“You have the older generation who because you can just twist these dials and click and drag these files over, there’s no fear,” she said. “They’re better at the printer than they are at their phones, because it’s just that simple.
The majority of their employees are from Arizona and many come from local high schools. Alisa said this was intentional.
“This is such a great tech industry, and we want to promote and showcase what Arizona has to offer in the tech world,” she said. “We have a lot of talent from Arizona. We don’t need to bring in outsiders. Our goal was to hire people that had a tech fear (and) who didn’t know this industry at all. They are the most proficient users now. It took them a week to figure it all out.”
While 3D printing seems perfect for inventors and artists, the technology is also providing solutions for real-world problems like architectural design, aerospace-engineering, and medical purposes such as making prosthetic limbs.
“Just about every industry you can think of, there is an application for 3D printing,” Alisa said.
STAX3D has already started using its printers for these types of real-world applications. The business has made models for a local town hall meeting and helped a company called Cranial Technologies with making helmets for babies with misshapen heads.
However, Jason stressed that while 3D printing can be applied to academic fields, the technology shouldn’t be limited to just math and science areas.
“It’s at the point now where it really can be useful to everyone,” he said. “You can’t say no. Anybody asks the question, ‘can we do this?’ The answer is yes you can.”
A printer can cost anywhere from about $1,000 to $10,000. For 3D printing novices, coming into the store to have your ideas printed might be the way to go at first. The cost of printing out your design varies depending on the size, complexity, and how may copies of your project you want, but it can be less than $50. Bringing in your own designs can help you save money. If you want to get a “mini-me” which involves getting scanned in store the price starts around $79.
Learn more about printing your ideas and the costs involved by stopping by the store located at 2270 E. Williams Field Road, Suite 110 in Gilbert. Alternatively you can call at 602-595-3155 or go online at stax3d.com.
• Jacob Goldstein, a senior at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, is an intern for GetOut. Contact him at (480) 898-6514 or email@example.com.