KENTVILLE – Going bust is a good thing for Gabriel Baker, a young entrepreneur with a 3D vision.
Gabriel, 16, has started up a business that scans and produces a 3D likeness of a person and then uses that to print a bust of the person’s likeness. 3dMEnow, the business he founded with his father, Rob, launched just over one week ago and is already creating waves in Kings County.
And, with a spot at the upcoming Kentville Home Show from April 20-22, Gabriel is bringing the technology to people so they can see it for themselves.
“We’re one of the only 3D printing services across the province that produces our own designs. It’s pretty cool knowing I’m part of the start of this,” he said.
A self-taught approach to technology
Gabriel is a Grade 10 student at West Kings District High School, where he runs the tech operations for the school’s video morning announcements.
A self-professed technology junkie, everything he knows is self-taught. After years spent learning how to build computers, fiddle with settings and change how things work, Gabriel began wondering more about 3D printing.
By the age of 12, he knew he had to get one. By the age of 16, that’s just what he did.
He and his father went to Sackville, purchased a printer and scanning gear to create 3D design images, and then wondered just what they’d do with their new technology.
“I assembled the printer myself and spent so many hours reading up and watching videos on how to use this properly. And now, we’re able to create 3D reproductions of someone’s likeness,” said Gabriel.
The objects are printed layer by layer, with small, delicate layers visible when holding a 3D-printed product up close. Gabriel prints using a polylactic acid based on corn starch, which breaks down more easily than plastic - a fact he and his father are both proud of.
Gabriel is able to describe how his 3D printer works as if it’s the simplest of concepts.
“It prints on three axis – the Y axis, X axis, and Z axis, so it’s taking basic geometry we learn in high school and employing that,” he said.
An entrepreneur first
This business is not the first time Gabriel’s entrepreneurial side has come forward. He once bought 180 candles in bulk for $1 each, painted them, and traveled to various craft shows selling them for $5, all to fund his high school band trip. He had his trip paid for months before its start date.
Gabriel has so far produced busts of his father, mother, brother, and Beagle dog, along with a few for a client who is bringing her family back for Mother’s Day portrait busts.
He will be featured at Kentville’s upcoming Home Show and is looking forward to scanning people and showing them what the technology can do.
“It’s such an interesting concept – this is a full picture of what you looked like in 2018. That’s pretty unique, and it hasn’t been commercialized yet,” said Rob Baker.
“It’s going to be pretty amazing to see where Gabriel takes this.”
Original designs and access to others
Now, Gabriel has designed his own items with his printer, including a prototype for the casing for a miniature computer called a raspberry pi – which he assembled himself – that West Kings will now use in their lobby and cafeteria, along with other cases and devices for his iPad and toolkit box.
“This is what I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, so to get it going this fast is amazing,” said Gabriel.
His father is feeling proud as he watches his son succeed with his start up project that is looking so promising after so little time.
He’s also excited since the 3D-printing community has a unique approach to patenting their original designs – they don’t seem to use any. With Thingiverse, a website where designers upload their designs, printers are free to download the 3D design files and change them how they see fit.
It’s a drastic change from secretive patent practices of the past, and one that has both Gabriel and Rob Baker excited to see where their 3D-printing future may take them.
“He’s ahead of the curve. I’m a big fan – quite a big fan, and he’s only getting better from here,” said Rob.
Visit the start-up business on it's Facebook page for 3dMEnow.