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Matterform 3D Scanner
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L-R: Adam Brandejs, Drew Cox, Trevor Townsend
Fresh faces and new businesses: the biggest advantage of TCT Magazine's partnership with International CES 2014 as sponsor of the 3D Printing TechZone. In this series, TCT Magazine + Personalize will be introducing a slew of emerging 3D technology companies, who will be nestled among the biggest names in the business at the Las Vegas event.
The first of these new businesses TCT has had the pleasure of talking to is Toronto-based 3D scanner developer Matterform, a fledgling business that has already found its feet and is making serious waves in the increasingly busy 3D tech marketplace. It is the three partners' attitude towards 3D scanning being not only a versatile technology, but one that is totally accessible and can stand alone, rather than be considered a 3D printing accessory, that makes Matterform's enthusiasm for their gadget so infectious.
Introducing the brains behind Matterform: partners Drew Cox, Adam Brandejs and Trevor Townsend.
"Me and Adam both went to university together in Toronto, but we didn't actually know each other," Drew explained.
"Drew was doing advertising and I was in the basement doing sculpture," Adam said. "We met a few years later at an advertising agency where Drew was an art director and I was a programmer. We started messing with 3D stuff digitally back then and slowly over time we started playing with 3D printing more and more."
"Keen to know everything about the community"
This tinkering with 3D technology culminated in the two creatives building their own 3D printer in 2010.
"It really started as a hobby," Drew said. "Adam was really keen on knowing everything about the community and the hobbyists who were starting the revolution and Adam ended up suggesting we make a 3D scanner together."
Work commenced on the scanner in late summer 2012 without any greater motive than the pair's desire to create their own hardware and see what happens. Little did they know what their germ of an idea would rapidly evolve in such a short space of time.
Adam said: "It was just something we wanted to do and we didn't know if it would turn into something like this from the beginning. It was just an idea. There were all these 3D printers coming out - even now there's a new 3D printer every week - but then there's all those people out there who don't really know how to use them apart from downloading a pre-made file from someone else, so it seemed like something that could be really useful for everybody else to actually start building unique things."
"We decided we were going to do this for ourselves," Drew added, stating that when he and Adam saw the first prototype their ambitions grew a little bolder and the pair considered crowd sourcing campaigns. They worked in earnest to make the 3D scanner the best it could be for the consumer marketplace and started setting the Matterform 3D scanner up as the flagship product for a start-up company.
He explained: "We decided this in December or January and by February of this year we had a studio and we launched on indiegogo. In March we were the highest crowd source campaign outside of the US and it was only a couple of weeks ago that somebody broke our record, so we really did well in the crowd sourcing campaign. Anyway, that's when we brought Trevor in."
Trevor joined the team in April 2013 and brought with him his experience as a business analysts and programmer. Trevor has known Adam and Drew for 18 months and four years respectively and had been aware of their 3D technology projects for a while.
"I expressed an interest in the 3D printer they had been working on previously, but never really got too involved. Then the scanner came along and I thought I could really make a good contribution towards the software for that, so I joined them and rewrote some of the software over the summer and did a whole lot of logistics work for setting up a company that manufactures and distributes internationally. You might be surprised to learn that's fairly complicated," Trevor said.
More uses than 3D printing?
The Matterform team could be considered an something of a personification of the growing consumer 3D technology market - a comparatively young industry, with ambition, a compulsion to tinker both with the software and hardware side of things and a healthy mix of both the creative and technical. When asked if the partners feel their attitude as a team places them well within the industry, Drew agreed, but was reluctant to pigeonhole what they do.
"We're finding there are a lot more uses for 3D scanners. Really, there are a lot more uses for 3D scanning than for 3D printers and there are a lot of people who want to use our product with no intention of ever printing anything with it."
He added that the seemingly inexhaustible range of applications is hard to fathom, listing education and hobby project work at one end and science, research and dentistry at the other off the top of his head. Indeed, one customer - an archaeologist - wants to take a Matterform 3D scanner with him to Kenya where he will use the 3D scanning technology to scan artefacts without risking damaging them.
"We like doing this stuff because it interests us," Drew said. "Also, [3D scanning] is a bridge for a fairly large gap [in 3D technology]. Most people don’t know CAD, for example."
Trevor added: "And for a lot of people there's no point in learning CAD. If you just want a 3D model of something and you don't want to change it in any way then it's perfect."
"Organic shapes are very difficult to create as well, so it's perfect for that," Drew said.
"What we think," said Trevor, "is this is an enabling technology for a whole bunch of different things that we never even considered when we started this."
"This is just so massive for us"
International CES 2014 is set to be the stage for Matterform's big 3D scanner launch - an exciting prospect for this Toronto-headquartered start-up.
"International CES will be the official launch for the scanner and we'll be demo-ing units and showing off everything it can do," Adam revealed. "All of us will be there - a whole lot of us actually. It's pretty big for us. I mean, we've done trade shows before and maker fairs, but this is just so massive for us. We're figuring everything out as we go. We'll have the scanner there and we assume that because we're in a dedicated 3D printing area that the right people who are already interested in that technology will be there."
Trevor said: "I've always wanted to go to CES. I've watched it [on television] before and always thought 'I wish I could be there' and now we get to go, so it's exciting to just be there in addition to showing off our own product."
Matterform will be in South Hall 3 of the Las Vegas Convention Center for the duration of International CES 2014 (January 7th-10th 2014) on stand 31929 in the 3D Printing TechZone.