What inspired you to get involved with 3DCrowd?
I have a 3D printer and I wanted to try to make a difference in the lives of people who were (and still are) making a difference. My 3D Printer was sitting idle for about 3 months prior to me joining 3D Crowd. About a week before I decided to start using it again with some filament I’d been given for my birthday. Then my wife showed a news report about the call for 3D Printer owners to produce PPE for NHS staff. For me, it was kind of a no brainer.
Was there a personal reason to get involved?
To begin with, not really. I just thought about trying to help because I was able to.
I’ve always felt that people in public-facing roles get less support than they should and this was another instance of people on the front line not being provided for. I just wanted to help.
What has been the best thing about being a part of the 3DCrowd?
Connecting with like-minded individuals who I could ask for help with 3d printing issues, and also being able to help people who have issues I’m familiar with.
What’s been the hardest thing?
Watching my printer take in excess of 5 hours to produce a halfway decent frame
What 3D printer do you use?
Original Tevo Tornado
What’s your preferred material and why?
SUNLU PLA+. I’ve tried various brands of PLA and PETG and I’ve found PLA+ to be the least problematic.
How many do you make in a week?
It’s actually quite embarrassing and disappointing that I’ve only managed to successfully print a maximum of about 12 in any one week
How many have you made so far?
I think I’ve only managed about 50 in total that weren’t complete disasters
What got you interested in 3DPrinting?
The idea of imagining some kind of object to have what, in a sense (to me at least), is a very basic precursor to a Star Trek replicator turn it into real reality, is simply amazing. I have lot’s of inventions in my head and I decided to buy a 3D printer so that I could make prototypes. I’ve only been able to make a small part of one idea so far though.
What keeps you going when the printers playing up?
Hope! Sometimes, when things aren’t going well and I can’t easily see why, I feel like I just want to throw the thing against the wall. But then somehow, one way or another whether by accident or design the answer is revealed and I get back to a place of being able to print again. This is why I now keep hopeful when things aren’t going as I would like. It doesn’t mean everything works out well quickly, but hope keeps me going.
What has been a highlight so far?
It might seem a little silly, but seeing my picture for 3 whole seconds in the ‘Holding out for a hero’ video (01:59 – 02:02)
And a low point/toughest bit?
Not having enough money to help as much as I wanted.
How do you see the future for 3D printing? What areas would you like to get involved in?
I see multi-material, multi-technology machines in homes everywhere in much the same way as telephones or microwaves. These machines would produce items at high quality and high speed and mean that people would be 3D printing many items instead of buying them. In the same way that people print a flyer on their home inkjet now instead of going to a print service, people will be 3D printing items with moving parts in hours or even minutes.
Until that happens though, I would really like to get a high-end maker space up and running that brings 3D printing (and other technologies) under the noses of the general public even more than the PPE shortage has.
How have you used the community connections?
Not much at the moment, but I’m planning to tap into the collective brain to bring a few projects to life. I have a few ideas that could potentially make money and there’s a lot of talent in this community.
How has Slack worked for you?
I’ve appreciated the way Slack is good for quickly getting feedback on questions/ideas.
What are your other interests and hobbies, what do you do to wind down? Usually, and how is that different in the lockdown?
I write poetry and create imagery in photoshop. Sometimes I can write a long poem in 10-20 minutes, on other occasions a poem of the same length can take days. I post some of my poetry and artwork to my website (Psalms:GARMS https://psalmsgarms.weebly.com/) which is a constant work in progress. I have a few inventions floating about my brain, so I spend quite a bit of time trying to develop these ideas. I’ve been working from home for a while before lockdown so there hasn’t been any noticeable difference.
How have you been coping with your mental wellbeing during the new normal?
Keeping busy trying to get my business up and running. Because of the creative nature of what I do, I usually do things I find quite therapeutic. I had just started a garment printing business a few months prior to lockdown. I often spend time trying to come up with ideas for new T-shirt designs. Even if I don’t come up with a design that I end up using, the process is where the therapeutic element exists. Coupled with my poetry writing, I have good outlets and constructive ways to manage my thoughts and emotions. Though, it has been really nice to see my t-shirts popup on webinars and talks by 3D Crowd members.
Have your relationships with your friends and family changed? Have you got closer or more isolated?
I was already using things like WhatsApp and Zoom to communicate with groups, family, and friends before lockdown, so relationships haven’t been affected much one way or another. Obviously, there’s been physical isolation, but technological connections have increased a bit.
What’s your favourite thing about lockdown?
The Idea the planet has had a bit of a chance to repair itself a little in the last few months.
What is the worst?
People disregarding social distancing measures and being completely selfish.
How do you think society will be different when we return to old life?
I think returning to old life will be part of the problem. I think it won’t take long for people to forget the problems we were in and revert to the same old practices, and attitudes. I know not everyone is guilty, but thousands of people have already shown disregard for their fellow human beings even during lockdown, so, unfortunately, I don’t have much faith in society in the long run. I genuinely hope I’m wrong and we move forward to new life.
What is your opinion on how the UK has handled the PPE crisis?
The volunteers and general population for the most part have handled it pretty well under the circumstances (obviously there are some exceptions to this). The UK government, on the other hand, has, in my opinion, handled things quite badly. They decided to make £330B available for perfectly able-bodied, healthy people to stay at home and do nothing. Of course, on the surface, this seems fine. I think it might have been better to instead, put £320B towards furlough and £10B towards converting appropriate businesses (factories/workshops maybe) into PPE making facilities. The staff that work at those places could then be working (having been provided with the proper PPE of course) instead of staying home. Then the government could have saved the money spent on (wrong) PPE from other countries. That’s just one area I think things haven’t been handled very well by the UK powers that be.
In what way do you feel valued, useful, motivated by the crisis?
I feel valued and supported by the few people that contributed financially to my efforts by paying for filament, gloves, and even tape. And to people that shared my request for such things in their different social circles.
What one thing would you like to see change after this pandemic subsides?
I’d like to see front line staff across all sectors of life receive better treatment than they have done previously. I know of soldiers who have inadequate equipment. I know of nurses who have to pushchairs together so they can have a nap in the middle of a 13-hour shift because they don’t have an actual staff room. Lots of other people in different roles have similar obstacles. In most industries, I find the people that face the public the most are the most undervalued by their management. Not just wages, but in other resources/facilities that make work more enjoyable.
Who are your heroes in life?
People that do jobs that should be paying them £100s ph but they do them for maybe £10-15 ph and get little or no thanks. People that do these kinds of job, not because they pay well (because they don’t), but because they have the heart of a hero (which they probably don’t even see in themselves) and they just want to help people.
You can visit Andrew’s T-shirt shop here and 30% of all profits go to 3D Crowd.