This article originates from Women In 3D Printing and is part of our effort to support the use of 3D printing technology by women. The article is re-published with permission.
SF Moto, a Bay Area local motorcycle store, and You3Dit, a 3D design platform, teamed up to bring the SFmototype Challenge. We talked to Nancy Garcia von Kriegenbergh and Lori Chen, two of the main actors in this project.
Nora Toure: SF Moto and You3Dit teaming up for the SFmotomype Challenge. Why is it making sense?
Nancy – SF Moto: Motorcycles and riders have a symbiotic relationship. A motorcycle cannot operate without a rider controlling and balancing it. A motorcycle must fit the rider’s body as well as style and usage. I often use this example with my customers, motorcycles are a lot like shoes. If the shoes don’t fit properly, you won’t wear them. If you don’t feel comfortable on the motorcycle, you won’t ride it. Your high heels, although super fly, are not what you wear when you want to go hiking. Just like shoes, the motorcycle must fit your needs. Motorcycles often need modification to be comfortable and useful, similar to adding Dr. Scholl’s insoles. This is where customization comes in. 3D printing can take customization to a much more personal level.
SF Moto and You3Dit want to provide tools for the modern day motorcyclist to achieve their needs. In the past, personal customization was very time-consuming and very expensive for riders. We believe 3D printing has a place in this industry as well as in others. SFmototype is a great way to introduce 3D printing to the motorcycle community and a great way for 3D printing enthusiasts to learn a bit more about the world of motorcycle riding.
Lori – You3Dit: The SFmototype Challenge is more than a motorcycle prototyping challenge. It’s really about unlocking the latent creativity in people so they can see their world not as a set of options to choose from, but as a white space where they can create anything they want. We believe there is a different set of lens people can look through when they think of retail, they no longer need to be confined by the current limitations of retail or traditional manufacturing. If they can imagine it, they can make it. The motorcycle industry is ripe for this concept because it is already a customization and personalization rich environment. 3D printing is the perfect technology to quickly customize, prototype or create new part concepts. As it is, there are so many variations of the 2-wheeled vehicle, it was only a matter of time a motorcycle rider and enthusiast thought “what if I had this…” or “I wish I could tweak this one part…” or “why hasn’t anyone made this one accessory already….”
You3Dit and SF Moto chose to partner because Thomas Campbell, the Operations Director at SF Moto and 3D printing enthusiast, took a 3D printing class from Dr. Chris McCoy, CEO & Co-Founder of You3Dit, at TechShop SF. A few more happenstance meetings at a local Philz coffee shop in San Francisco, where the two chatted about their love for 3D printing and for motorcycles, and the event was born. Chris and Thomas dreamed of bringing to life, the ability to make anything, anywhere with just a simple napkin sketch. And this is only the start…we have plans to do similar events with the wedding industry, snowboarding / skiing industries, road biking / mountain biking industries and more.
Nora Toure: Nancy, you have been working in the motorcycle industry for the past 10 years, how is it to evolve in such a male-dominant industry?
Nancy – SF Moto: It feels great! At first, it was difficult, especially since I was not a rider before I started working in the industry. I love to ride and with the experience, I gained confidence and excelled. A lot of motorcyclists are males with big egos. These attitudes are easily diffused by confidence, knowledge, and experience. I can also read people very well, that helps a lot. My goal is to help them make the best decision for themselves. Every customer appreciates that. I am quite proud of my sales team because we all possess these skills, and our customers respect us.
Nora Toure: Do you see parallels with other industries, such as tech?
Nancy – SF Moto: In regards to motorcycles and 3D printing yes! Parallels all over the place! Motorcyclists are passionate and the sport attracts all types of people from every industry. I feel that 3D printing is the beginning of a new way of creating, viewing and finding solutions to various barriers such as specialized hardware, tools, and parts. Motorcycles are a great avenue to generate interest in this growing industry.
Nora Toure: Why building the SFmotoType Challenge?
Nancy – SF Moto: We at SF Moto strive to be on the cutting edge of technology. We wanted to step outside the box and have a more modern type of event to generate a new excitement amongst motorcyclists. The time is right to introduce the concept of 3D printing to an ever-growing population of motorcyclists, all with different needs.
SFmototype is a Motorcycle Prototype 3D Design Challenge! We have invited customers and motorcycle enthusiasts to submit drawings and design ideas for motorcycle related items such as specialized tools, parts, and accessories. From just a sketch on a piece of paper, or a photo collage, You3Dit helps create the CAD files for the prototype printing. Printing takes place at SF Moto in our 3D Printer bot farm. Follow us online and/or submit an entry by posting to our channel on Instagram & Twitter: SFmototype. We have 5 printers printing, 3 Type A Machines and 2 Printrbots. Currently, we are in the middle of our design challenge and the printers are printing new prototypes every day. Contestants can come in and see their prototypes printing. Customers shopping for motorcycles are intrigued by what is going on. Most have only heard of 3D Printing and have never seen it in action. It is an exciting time to check out what is going on at SF Moto.
Lori – You3Dit: You3Dit’s vision is to help anyone turn a sketched idea into a solid object. We had been looking for an industry to test out this sketch-to-solid experience in an actual retail space and SF Moto was the perfect team to partner up with. To make it a little more fun, we decided to make it into a design and prototyping competition!
This event has also been a great opportunity to bring together key players in the 3D printing industry and motorcycling industry to do something a little “outside of the box” and exchange business ideas. It’s been very encouraging to see so many of our sponsors embrace the idea of a prototyping challenge and encourage their own customers to customize parts outside of their traditional consumables.
Nora Toure: What are the expectations of 3D Printing in the motorcycle industry?
Nancy – SF Moto: Wow, this is a great question. I think the concept of 3D printing in the industry is still very new and expectations are unknown still. I would like to see a variety of 3D printers in motorcycle shops with design engineers on hand.
In the last 10 years, I have met riders from all walks of life with different needs. One young lady, in particular, had a problem with her left ankle. She could not bend it enough to shift a manual motorcycle or reach down and touch the ground with her toe. She came into the shop looking for solutions. She wanted to shift the motorcycle using a hand control rather than a foot control. Back then, the only motorcycle I have to offer her was the Zero Electric Motorcycle, no shifting required! For her, it was too tall. She couldn’t risk injuring her ankle which already was lacking a range of motion. I had no answers for her. I mentioned that she could try to find someone who may be able to fabricate something for her.
If we had 3D Printers and designers on hand to assist making this young lady’s’ dream of riding come true, it would have been amazing and life changing for her! This is one example of a motorcyclist with special needs. There are many of us out there. Sometimes it can be as simple as, “ How can I carry my coffee to work on my bike?” We have a contestant who designed a cup holder for a motorcycle! We have others making brackets to hold glucose monitors on handlebars, so blood sugar levels can be monitored on long rides. We also have specific tools being created to make frequent maintenance just a little simpler for the people doing their own maintenance. We are so proud of our contestants and the courage they have shown by submitting their ideas!
I would also like to see major manufacturers embrace the idea of having branded 3D Printers at dealerships to print items that are being ordered and installed regularly such as gaskets, seals, filters and possibly other hard to find parts. (Jay Leno’s garage was a huge proponent of 3D printing for this exact reason.) How could this affect the whole dealership experience? Could we cut down on costs to the customer? Could we save time and energy associated with shipping and warehousing parts? How much space and time can a shop save if inventory could be cut down to filament and a couple 3D Printers?
Lori – You3Dit: Coming from the 3D printing side of this industry mashup, our expectation is that 3D printing can really show motorcycle riders that almost anything is possible to be manufactured using modern design software and 3D printers. Accessibility is key. If they have a concept for a new decorative piece for their helmet, a mount for their smartphone, a new tool to make greasing their chains easier…we want SFmototype to act as a springboard to get involved and bring their idea to life. They have the opportunity to create either a one-off accessory or possibly to launch their own motorcycle part business…but it all starts with a sketch. You’re already cool for riding a motorcycle…but you become a rockstar motorcyclist when you show off a tool / concept / accessory you designed for the sport itself.
Chris told me once about a guy he met while riding who prototyped LED blinkers integrated into the rear-view mirrors on a Kawasaki. That dude was bad-ass. If you look at the industry now, LED blinkers in rear-view mirrors (at least on sportbikes) has become incredibly popular. You3Dit, SF Moto, Autodesk Fusion360, Type A Machines 3D Printers, Printrbot 3D Printers and so many of our other sponsors believe that regular people should act on their creativity–now that the only limitation is their ability to sketch / describe / draw out a concept on a napkin and upload that picture to Instagram. Not sure how we can make it any easier ! :D
Nora Toure: What kind of material is usually used? And why?
Lori – You3Dit: For consumer-grade 3D printing, plastics such as PLA, ABS and PETG are common. These are rather durable plastics, some are easier to use than others. Our filament partners: Cubicity, Esun and Breathe3DP all sell filament–the materials used in 3D printers–that have a range of benefits and capabilities. For example, Cubicity has a variety of technical filaments from Voltivo to make your 3D prints look like Aluminum for example. They also carry TwoBears natural BioFila filament which makes your 3D prints look organic, soft toned and are produced with recyclability in mind. Esun Industries provides PETG that we use on our Type A Machines 3D printers with heated build plates and the printed parts are used for more heavy-duty applications.
But consumer-grade 3D printing and their materials are only a starting point. We have machines in our You3Dit network which can 3D print in ceramics, metals, organic materials, rubbers and more.
Nancy – SF Moto: For SFmototype, we are using plastic filament provided by our sponsors, Esun and Cubicity for our prototypes. These prototypes are not meant to be real parts. They are prototypes to see if the idea will actually fit the build for the contestants’ application. For example, we have one client who has already been prototyping parts and then once he’s got the right design, has the parts or tools printed and/or machined.
Nora Toure: What do you think of the 3D Printing industry as a whole today? And how would you like to see it evolve?
Nancy – SF Moto: Although the 3D printing industry has been around for quite some time, I think now we will begin seeing a rapid increase of interest and expansion. I feel the tech industry is well-versed in 3D printing but knowledge and information are lacking in the general public. 3D printing must be brought to the attention of everyone. Events such as SFmototype will help increase awareness of what 3D printing can do now and in the future.
Recently, I saw a 3-D printer on display and printing in a local Costco. This is a great way to expose 3-D printing by getting it into an area where a large audience can see it working in person. I’d like to see 3D printers such as the Type A Machines and Printrbot in the homes of regular people. Tools like this can inspire the imagination. There could be a new breed of inventors and makers.
As far as a world impact, I’d like to see people designing and building their own household items. How much would this impact the environment? Could it make an impact globally on greenhouse emissions by not having so many vehicles burning fuel for transportation of products? Could we eliminate excess packaging and trash? I know filament companies are using recycled materials in some filaments. Can new ways of recycling be created? Could this help families in poverty across the globe by being able to create simple products? How can 3-D printing impact the studying of our planet? Could we map out seismically active areas based on measurements and use this technology to predict earthquakes and volcanic eruptions in the future?
The more people with access to tools like this, the more ingenuity can be developed and cultivated in this world. Knowledge is powerful and inspirational. Our world has drastically changed over the last 150 years. People with ideas and money to back them have pushed the human race forward. 3D printing could break down the cost barrier for many people with ideas. It is exciting to think of all the possibilities, especially with our children growing up so exposed to technologies such as cell phones, tablets, and the internet….Remember, the internet has been around since the mid 1990’s. Look how far we have come in such a short amount of time!
Lori – You3Dit: I think people think of 3D Printing right now as “super cool” and a bit of a hobbyist’s activity. I also believe we are only beginning to scratch the surface of the potential behind 3D printing today. I envision a day where digital designs can be sent across the world and physical parts can be made…3D printed… locally and more sustainably. I also envision a future where people are no longer ordering items made available to them, but thinking of a product that will meet their needs and be able to turn that idea into a solid, tangible product in a matter of hours.
There are a lot more technology improvements to be made in 3D printing, but there is also a huge need for education and awareness around design and the prototyping process. One of my biggest takeaways since joining You3Dit in early 2016 and in organizing this SFmototype event, is that changing the culture around how people think about consumables and customized products available to them is a big undertaking. When we show someone a 3D printed part and explain that it was created a day after it was described to us, people are impressed. But when we ask someone “what would you like to create?” we’ve seen that people are generally a bit uncomfortable thinking up something from a blank page. There’s huge opportunity here, and I think 3D printing is part of that path to helping people think outside of their everyday options. I think 3D printing will improve and revamp the future of manufacturing and also bring people closer to their inner latent creativity.
Nora Toure: In your opinion, how could we encourage more women to become involved with 3D Printing
Nancy – SF Moto: Women are naturally going to push this industry forward! Our minds are the best mass produced creations on this planet! This goes hand in hand with getting the tools in the hands of the right people. The more exposure and education we can put in the hands of confident, creative women, the better! We inspire each other! In my personal experience as a woman, inspiration from other women has been a key factor in many of my life choices, I suspect the same goes for most women!
Lori – You3Dit: I believe 3D printing education and awareness events (like SFmototype, TechWomen or MakerFaires) where women have the opportunity to get their hands ON some 3D printing and are given the opportunity to create something from a sketch will help women (and men) become more comfortable with the process of 3D printing. You3Dit recently partnered with Autodesk and taught a rapid prototyping class using 3D printing to a group of women leaders from around the world during TechWomen in SF. It was amazing how quickly these women went from saying they’d never seen 3D printing to picking up Fusion360 during a 30 minute course, to sending their STL file over to us and seeing a 3D printed model of an airplane they had modeled begin to print. From there, we had so many inspiring conversations with the women later that night about what they wanted to make with 3D printing when they returned to their home countries and how they might leverage a global service like You3Dit. One woman, in particular, was in the fashion business and to see her face light up when she realized she could potentially 3D print patterns to piece together a dress for her small business was incredibly inspiring.
Nora Toure: and motorcycling?
Nancy – SF Moto: I am proud to say that in the last 10 years, I have inspired female motorcyclists and continue to. I know this because these women make sure that I know I have impacted their lives. I also know that all female motorcyclists inspire people, including men and not just from a competitive standpoint. Motorcycling is a skill. Women inspire each other. As far as female motorcyclists go, we are out there! We are racing, commuting, teaching and enjoying life. We are free spirits and we choose to ride!
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