Entrepreneurs will tell you it takes money to make money, especially for a start-up.
But what if there was a way to create a nearly self-sustaining business?
That’s the vision of Brandon Lemos, a junior studying Computer Science and Information Technology at Florida Polytechnic University. Brandon, of Fort Lauderdale, carries a reputation on campus as the go-to guy for 3D printing. He became fascinated with the process after reading an article about 3D-printing cartilage in high school. When it came time to pick a university, Brandon naturally gravitated toward the school with one of the largest 3D printing labs in the country.
“It’s an open field,” Brandon says of 3D printing. “It’s only limited by the imagination of the modeler and the machine’s specifications.”
Brandon took advantage of Florida Poly’s curriculum and Rapid Application Development Makerspace Lab to hone his skills. Then he had an epiphany. What if he started 3D printing 3D printers?
Brandon began developing the idea as a class project at the beginning of the Fall 2016 semester, along with fellow students Kat Newell, Kristen “Phoenix” Metzger, Quentin Goss and Chandler Holland. He purchased a Prusa i3 open-source 3D printer, then set to printing all the parts to reproduce a new one. The only parts that couldn’t be printed were the motherboard, power supply and other electronics. They are now the owners of a working prototype.
Brandon envisions taking this first model as the foundation for a custom 3D printing business that would accept orders through a website. Because the printers are not limited to printing the proprietary plastic an off-the-shelf printer requires, Brandon would be able to use materials such as fiberglass and carbon, and plastic infused with wood, nylon, and copper.
“I’ll be able to handle all sorts of requests thrown at me” in many materials, he says.