Thursday, July 14, 2016

A Different View of M3D

For most people, M3D is a highly successful 3D printer manufacturer.  And, they stop there.

My own view is that M3D is a great deal more than that..

But, before I reveal my take on M3D as a company, we need to go back to 1981 in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, the home of Hasbro.  Back then I worked for a video game company called Astrocade and we marketed the Bally Professional Arcade.

That was a time when many large companies were interested in exploring investing in video games and part of my job was being what we jokingly called. "The Chief Galaxian Killer", which meant that it was my task to show off the capabilities of the game system to prospective investors.  I was summoned to an apartment in New York to meet a prospective investor.  The apartment turned out to be the home of the mother of the Hassenfeld brothers, Stephen and Alan, who were top executives of Hasbro.  That afternoon and evening we sat on the floor in front of a TV playing video games and having a great time.

Now, THAT is my kind of corporate meeting!  :)

The investment fell through; but, I had a chance, in 1984-85, to once again work with the Alan and Stephen Hassenfeld..  But, this time I was working on a game system for Hasbro code-named "NEMO" that used video tape (VHS) for content.  (This was before CD-ROM's).

It was during this time that I made some mention of Hasbro being a great game company and Stephen Hassenfeld replied that Hasbro wasn't primarily a game company,  It was a plastics company and games were the vehicle to move plastic.  At first I was surprised.  But, on reflection I could see exactly why he said that.  Without plastics none of their games would be possible.  So, if they did not pay a great deal of attention to the process of formulating and producing plastics profitably, they could not produce the games they create.  On the other hand, if they got rid of games altogether, they still had the plastics business with which to survive.

That was a real eye opener.

Which brings us forward to M3D.  Is it primarily a 3D printer company?  Or, is its primary mission something different?

I think that over our lifetime we will come to see M3D's primary business is innovation.   3D Printing is just the beginning.  I have seen countless startups come up with 3D printer designs.  Some were very cool.  But, NONE of them have counted so much on innovation in their designs as has M3D.

I see M3D not as, primarily, a 3D printer company; but, as an INNOVATION company.

Like Hasbro, with games, 3D Printers are a way M3D can bring their product... innovation... into the marketplace.  That is an exciting concept to me.

I have spent hours on end, in the little time that I have had a Micro, using and testing this remarkable little printer.  And, the innovations behind the design impress me over and over.  Part of the catalyst for this article was a small quote in the WiKi article about M3D, "This low cost was achieved through reduction of "power consumption by a factor of 10 compared to professional 3D printers".  That is not an insignificant achievement.  Apparently, from that one innovation came the ability to design many other innovative components, such as the unique and ultra-compact gantry system!  Who could have imagined a 3D printer weighing in around 2 pounds with just a 7" footprint before M3D made it a reality!

Each session, for "Career Day" we take our Maryland and DC cadets to the University of Maryland's Fiscell Bioengineering Lab so that they can see how 3D printing is being explored for medical applications.  It is the highlight of the year for most cadets... and, for me!

Youth ChalleNGe Cadets at the Fiscell Bioengineering Lab

The Fischell Bioengineering Lab is a place where incredible innovations are being born and nurtured combining things like stem cells and 3D printing technology.

It is interesting to see that both M3D founders are graduates of the University of Maryland and that, in fact, one of them has a Ph.D. in bioengineering.  With that kind of background, it is no wonder that we see the kind of innovations in the M3D Micro that we see.

The next generation of FDM printers from M3D (the PRO) promises even more innovations.  But, I do not expect them to stop there or ever stop to rest and bask in the glow of their achievements.  I am sure there is a LOT more in store for us, beyond FDM 3D printers, from this remarkable innovation company.

Nope.  I don't see M3D as a mere 3D Printer manufacturing company.  I see it as a whole lot more.  And, quite frankly, while I have yet to meet anyone in their company, I'm very happy to have found them.  I love creative people!

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