05 Nov MatterLab: 3D Printing in Quito, Ecuador
The dream has become a reality for MatterLab here in Ecuador! Since we last spoke eight months ago we are now fully operational in our booth in Quicentro mall in Quito, and are opening a second stand at Scala Shopping, also in Quito. We have become a meeting place for graphic designers, artists, industrial designers, architects and all sorts of creative minds seeking a place where they can express themselves and bring their dreams into reality through 3D printing technology. In fact, we have been able to hire several of these brilliant minds as freelance artists to create 3D prints for our other clients.
Clients have quickly flocked to our booth to demand all kinds of services. Many have seen 3D printing as a useful technology to create a variety of personalized publicity materials such as signs, logos, etc. Others have come to us for help recreating parts for machinery and equipment which they can no longer fix, due to import restrictions in Ecuador or simply because the machinery is outdated. People in Ecuador, due to both tradition and necessity, keep equipment functional well beyond its useful life and we are enabling them to do so through 3D printed parts. Many have also come to us to create cases for their cell phones, mostly for models that are not commonly known. Demand has also been high for prints of architectural models, especially students who cannot afford the astronomical fees charged to them by people who use more traditional methods.
Having a booth in Quicentro mall has opened up many opportunities for us. Quicentro is the commercial heart of the city and as such, all kinds of professionals flock to the mall. We have had more than 1000 visitors per day to our booth and this has meant that we have met many interesting people. For instance, we have met electronic and polymer engineers who have offered their services to us to bring our more ambitious and humanitarian projects to reality. They have offered help in finding ways to optimize the production of 3D printing filament that uses readily available recycled plastics. This is something we will continue to pursue with all means available to us.
We have also hired an engineer. His goal is to work with the plastic extruder that Matt Rogge built for us to start producing locally made 3D printing filament. Our presence in Ecuador has made it clearer than ever that locally produced 3D printing filament is crucial to the expansion of this field in Ecuador and the region. A spool that costs US$30 per kg in the US costs up to $US 80 per kg once it arrives in a customer´s hands in Ecuador due to hefty shipping and import fees. Our goal is to reduce these costs to half of what they currently are, thus allowing people in Ecuador to enjoy their 3D printers at a more reasonable price.
*Since publishing, MatterLab has recently re branded as Maker Group. You can find all further information about their work through this name, including their Facebook page.