Pixel Tracker

Sunday, December 9 , 2018, 4:44 pm | Fair 64º


Santa Barbara Startup’s 3D Printer Turns Student Sketches Into Reality with Press of Button

Mission Street Manufacturing's Printeer uses an iPad drawing application designed to make the technology accessible to children

A creative idea strikes, so a student sketches an image onto an iPad app with an index finger and then presses a print button.

Minutes later, that abstract idea takes form as a palmable 3D plastic object.

Powerful 3D printing technology has been available to a select few for several years, but Santa Barbara-based Mission Street Manufacturing hopes to see the expensive equipment in the hands of grade school children everywhere soon.

The local tech startup began manufacturing its 3D Printeers last spring with visual learners in mind, crafting a colorful, clear design that showcases how the machine actually works.

Co-founders Brian Jaffe and Gabe Rosenhouse just dropped off the first Printeers to La Cumbre Junior High, and have sold nearly 200 since launching a Kickstarter campaign last month.

Mission State Manufacturing has raised more than $100,000 since, surpassing a $50,000 goal well before the 30-day period ends July 10.

Jaffe, the company’s CEO, became enthralled with 3D printers while studying mechanical engineering at Princeton University in 2006. When he left the U.S. Navy five years later, a magazine article rekindled the interest.

Could this incredible technology be made accessible to all children, not just engineers, tech whizzes or those with computer-aided design skills? 

“Let’s bring 3D printing to the next generation,” Jaffe said. “I became just a huge advocate of it. Kids are the most creative people on the planet.”

Jaffe enlisted childhood friend Rosenhouse — they used to work on science fair projects together in their native Portland, Ore. — to help on the software side, and in 2012 the company was born.


3D printing
The Printeer can create 3D plastic images such as these by using an iPad drawing application and pressing the print button. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

Printeers sell for $549 each, trading the intricacy of more expensive models for speed and simplicity.

If you can use an iPad, you can use a Printeer, Jaffe said, noting the company’s app that allows users to draw something, send it up into cloud software and print the 3D image that comes back down.

Traditional 3D printers use a desktop process and easily cost up to $2,000.

Some Santa Barbara schools are already using 3D printers, including Adams Elementary and San Marcos, Dos Pueblos and Santa Barbara high schools.

La Cumbre Junior High will put Printeers in an after-school program and in an industrial tech modular lab this fall, according to Principal Jo Ann Caines.

On a recent morning, five Dos Pueblos engineering students huddled around Printeers in Mission Street’s factory, doubling as the garage of a house shared by several employees.

The students were interning this summer, learning about the machines that take eight hours to assemble.

Mission Street hopes to find an actual factory space later this year, about when more Printeers will ship to be used in art, math, science and other lessons.

Jaffe said the company is ironing out refill costs and new apps, with plans for a second-generation Printeer already in the works.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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