ProtoPlant, located in Vancouver, Washington, manufactures high performance filament for the desktop 3D printer consumer market. In late 2013, ProtoPlant launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund development of a brand of 3D printer filament called ProtoPasta. Over the course of a year, the company has released six materials including Carbon Fiber PLA, High Temperature PLA, PC-ABS, Stainless Steel PLA, Magnetic Iron PLA and Conductive PLA.
We caught up with Dustin Cram, P.E and ProtoPlant founder, and Alex Dick, ProtoPlant’s mechanical engineer to learn more about the company and ProtoPasta in an exclusive AMazing® Q&A session.
AMazing®: Gentlemen thank you for your participation. As we understand ProtoPlant manufactures high performance filament called ProtoPasta for use in consumer 3D printers. What market niche does ProtoPasta fill and what distinguishes ProtoPasta from other 3D printer filament on the market?
Dustin: We specialize in the development and production of exotic 3D printer filaments. Protopasta products blend exotic materials – like chopped carbon fiber or powered iron – with a plastic base to create specialty filaments that are useable by affordable desktop printers.
AMazing®: We understand the company launched a Kickstarter campaign in 2013 to establish a brand of filament. How important was the Kickstarter campaign to the development of the ProtoPasta brand?
Dustin: The Kickstarter was critical to the founding of Proto-pasta. Not only did it provide the start up capitol, it also gave us a base of loyal customers and introduced us to a worldwide community of 3D printing enthusiasts.
AMazing®: As a material manufacturer for the desktop consumer market, what trends are shaping up this year?
Alex: There’s definitely a lot happening on the material side; people are getting tired of printing trinkets in colored plastic – they want to be able to make more and DO more with their 3D printers. We’ve been leading the way when it comes to proving what is possible with 3D printing. There are many more possibilities for materials which are both functional and beautiful; and we’ll be seeing many of them this year.
Dustin: And new materials encourage more people to get into 3D printing. During CES we had plenty of people come up to our booth, see heavy, polished prints made of our stainless steel filament and exclaim, “I never wanted a 3D printer… until now.” Exotic materials open up a new world of applications for this technology.
AMazing®: The company has released six materials including Carbon Fiber PLA, High Temperature PLA, PC-ABS, Stainless Steel PLA, Magnetic Iron PLA and Conductive PLA. What are some applications for Conductive PLA? Are there any new products on the horizon?
Dustin: Our Conductive PLA offers 15 ohm-cm resistivity, which is enough for low voltage and touch capacitive sensors. Really anything that uses touch, like controllers, sensors, or a stylus for your touch screen, are great applications, as well as simple circuitry projects like lighting up LEDs.
Alex: As far as new products are concerned, we have a long list of filaments we’d love to develop. You’ll have to wait and see what we are working on.
AMazing®: Shifting gears to education, what advice would you have for anyone interested in becoming involved in the 3D Printing industry?
Dustin – 3D printing is changing every day and there are many ways to become involved. The easiest is to simply start using the technology, whether at home or through your business, and it will soon lead to many opportunities in your local community.
AMazing®: Finally, how will ProtoPlant evolve over the next few years? What do you hope to see?
Dustin: We hope to continue supplying users with the most advanced and interesting 3D printing materials on the market. Our plan is to do this by reinvesting our resources into R&D and continuing to create new materials and applications.
This concludes our interview. Gentlemen, thank you very much for your participation. We are very grateful for the opportunity to learn about ProtoPlant and ProtoPasta products.
About Dustin Cram, Founder:
Dustin Cram is the founder of ProtoPlant and a licensed Professional Engineer. He is co-inventor on several patents, has hardware he designed and built for the Solar Dynamics Observatory, currently flying in space, created and built the Proto-pasta extrusion machinery and is passionate about design and manufacturing.
About Alex Dick, 3D Engineer:
Alex Dick has been working in 3D printing for over 10 years and brings industry-specific experience to the Proto-pasta team. A mechanical engineer specializing in laser sintering technology, Alex has a deep technical understanding of additive techniques and the individuals, communities, and businesses that can use them.
Proto-pasta is manufactured at ProtoPlant, a small mechanical engineering firm founded in 2008 and located in Vancouver, Washington, USA. The company specializes in 3D printing innovation and mechanical design for aerospace, scientific, and manufacturing Industries.
5601 E. 18th St.
Vancouver, WA 98661 USA
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