HENDERSON, Nev. – Not too long ago, inventors had to pay tens of thousands of dollars to create a prototype. So, too, did lovers with an idea for a one-of-a-kind jewelry design. Those needing to replace a small, discontinued part were out of luck and might have to purchase a whole new piece of expensive equipment.
With the advent of 3-D printing, things only dreamed about became possible. And affordable. The turnaround time – days instead of months. Even still, a 3-D printer is just a tool that can only take a user as far as his or her own capabilities allow.
That’s where Moment 3D – celebrating its one-year anniversary Oct. 21 – comes in. Founder and sculptor Alex Gao combines the capabilities of 3-D printing with his own sculpting background and knowledge of – and experience with – 3-D printing materials to bring his customers’ visions to life.
As a sculptor, Gao has worked in 3-D animation and toy manufacturing.
“To this day, I remember the first time I held the 3-D print of a toy I’d been working on for months,” he said.
It’s that experience Gao wants to bring to the masses, many of whom may still think that 3-D printing is as out of reach as a replicator from Star Trek. In fact, that’s why he named his company Moment 3D.
“I want to help people capture their moment in time – capture the moment of memory using 3-D printing,” he said, adding that he loves to see that moment of awe when a client sees the project they’ve been thinking about for months or even years. “I love our job right now.”
But 3-D isn’t just a fun outlet for one-off projects for individuals; there are many real business applications as well.
“It can potentially help a lot of industries,” said Gao, who’s already done a run of 150 discontinued parts, printed teeth for a dentist without anyone even touching the patient’s mouth, created drone housing, and more. Most recently, the company has begun integrating electronics and sensors within their prototypes. Even car parts are possible, although not currently cost-effective.
“I don’t think it will revolutionize the manufacturing industry, but it can enhance its capabilities,” he said. “People are shocked at what digital printing is able to produce as well as where our industry is going in a short amount of time.”
A big advantage of 3-D printing is the production cost. Moment 3D offers fused deposition modeling (low resolution, single color, slow); color jet printing (high resolution, full color, fast); and stereolithography (high resolution, single color, mid-speed — used for high detail projects and uses a resin material). Materials can range from castable wax and plastic; to nylon; to stainless steel, titanium, silver and gold. Soon the company will be acquiring a 3-D printer that can produce materials made from Kevlar and carbon fiber.
Moment 3D’s services are broken down into two parts: design and protyping. Cost is determined by the level of complexity, materials used and size.
The largest item Gao’s created thus far is 13 by 9 by 5 inches. In plastic, 8 by 10 by 6 inches. He can create larger items, but in separate parts that will then be assembled.
To create a learning environment, Gao hosts free workshops every month for anyone to attend, ask questions and share knowledge. They take place every third Saturday of the month from 4-6 p.m. at Moment 3D, 145 N. Gibson Rd. Suite B. Topics vary. Gao also hosts private classes for clients who have purchased their own 3-D printer and don’t know how to use it.
“We try to be a bridge,” Gao said. “This is an emerging technology. We have the capability. Educating our clients is a big part of what we do.”
Located at 145 N. Gibson Rd. Suite B, Moment 3D is open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call 702-826-4022, visit moment3d.space or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The company is also on Instagram at @moment3dspace.