Mock 3D printed living room
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Preview of Print The Future’s blog post about their visit:
What were you doing in fourth grade? Probably not building a 3D printed prosthetic aid for a classmate who was born without a hand, I bet.
Last week, a few of us on the Print the Future team got to visit a company called PicoTurbine International, who recently partnered with eight Jersey City Public Schools to create an education program focused on doing just that.
Allow me to set the scene.
The weather was beautiful in New York. The sun had thawed most of the snow, and we were finally able to leave our heavy coats at home. It was the perfect day for a field trip. Around noon Neil, Victor, and I hopped in a cab, and in less than 30 minutes, we had made it to Kearny Point.
We pulled up at Building 78, an old Navy warehouse and shipbuilding shed, clad in original brick with new corrugated metal accents and large paned glass windows that manage to make this heavy, old building feel fresh and new on the inside.
Building 78 is the first building to be redeveloped in a master plan that includes over 3 million square feet of industrial space in Kearny, New Jersey. Historically, this area served as a massive shipbuilding operation during World War I and World War II with over 30,000 employees working on site.
If you’ve ever been to the Brooklyn Navy Yard or Industry City, it’ll be something like that: tons of indoor and outdoor public spaces, modern office buildings offering “flex spaces” for small businesses and larger spaces for established brands, parks, and event spaces that will bring thousands of innovators, creatives, and entrepreneurs together in one place.
Michael Rodriquez, Communications Manager at PicoTurbine, met us in the modern, light-filled lobby and guided us up to the PicoTurbine space on the second floor. I made sure to gracefully knock over a Thomas Heatherwick designed Spun chair on my way.
PicoTurbine began in a dorm room in 2008, where founder Michael Burghoffer and a couple of his peers started off as hobbyists making wind turbines. Since then, they’ve maintained their emphasis on sustainability and diversified to offer public and educational services focusing on alternative energy, rapid prototyping and computer-aided design.
The first PicoTurbine STEAM Rocks Education Center – the one we visited – opened in September of 2015.
Nowadays, 3D printing accounts for about 60% of PicoTurbine’s business with a primary focus on educating teachers. Since 2015, they’ve hosted many successful open house events, professional development sessions, and class trips at their STEAM Center.
When we got inside, Damian Nodal, Director of 3D Printing, showed us around the space. There’s really a lot to see, including an original brick wall in the back; a collection of hydroponic plant systems with a couple of pet goldfish residing in the water tank; rows of wood tables and chairs that they made themselves; and dozens of 3D printed knick-knacks, experiments, and prototypes that the team has worked on over the years.