From 2D to 3D – There And Back Again

Geargina Tan of PrintStone combines the best of traditional ink printing with 3D printing.

Geargina Tan of PrintStone combines the best of traditional ink printing with 3D printing.

Geargina Tan of PrintStone has a unique shop. Unlike normal 3D printing bureaus, PrintStone sells 3D as well as traditional 2D printing services, and combines them for better results. Ginkgo3D catches hold of this busy lady to share her views – before she dashes off to her next appointment.

Q: What influenced you to try out 3D Printing as a venture?

A: My father already owns a traditional 2D printing and copying service. When he first introduced me to 3D printing, schools here were going into prototyping and exposing themselves to this technology. There was already a 3D printing market in the US and we thought we would like to introduce this to Singapore. So we went over to the US to take a look. I stayed there for a week to attend 3D printing workshops and seminars. Then we opened Printstone about a year and a half ago. My first printer was a Lulzbot. Due to its reliability, we still use it now to print. In fact, we’ve expanded to accommodate four newer models of Lulzbot printers in our shop.

Geargina’s LuxBox 3D printers (left) are reliable workhorses, and she uses the Wonderprint UV printer (right) to overlay her 3D prints with messages, logos and branding.

Geargina’s Lulzbot 3D printers (left) are reliable workhorses, and she uses the Wonderprint UV printer (right) to overlay her 3D prints with messages, logos and branding.

3D printed cosplay props are becoming increasingly popular as they save the cosplayer time in crafting the objects by hand.

3D printed cosplay props are becoming increasingly popular as they save the cosplayer time in crafting the objects by hand.

Q: What materials do you print in? Is there any preference of the material choice?

A: We print more PLA than ABS due to PLA’s more environmentally friendly nature. ABS gives off a stink when printed. We also print resin and sandstone but sandstone printing is done with an external partner due to the size of the machine. We can’t display the machine in-house. The current printing costs are still expensive and machines will get obsolete, so it is still more economical to 3D print outside than to own a printer yourself. Most people who own the machines use it for their hobbies or school projects. We also have cosplayers coming to us to get their designs printed, which is a lot faster than crafting – and they often have lack of time.

Q: Do you use 3D Printing in your daily lives and how long do you take to make a print?

A: Yes we do. We have replaced broken parts at home by designing and printing them. As for printing duration, it depends on the size of the object. It is also more advisable to print in parts, which is faster and saves material cost too. Failed prints happen occasionally.

The PrintStone shopfront, which offers traditional ink printing and 3D printing services. Also on display are 3D printed knick-knacks and souvenirs. On the left is the UV printer.

The PrintStone shopfront, which offers traditional ink printing and 3D printing services. Also on display are 3D printed knick-knacks and souvenirs. On the left is the UV printer.

Q: Have you explored other material options?

A: I’ve heard of paper printing and seen the prototypes, but I think the technology is still at a fragile stage. The printing price does not effectively cover the cost of the machine.

Q: Do you sell your items and services online? How does that work for you?

Yes, we do sell online, but we cannot rely on it as a sales strategy. Generally, I find that you have to go personally to pitch for sales and that is what I do. I approach hotels, wedding planners, cruise and event organisers. Since I am also involved in event organisation, I take the opportunity to include personalised gifts and items into the package. That’s how I really generate sales.

Q: What do you think about the current market for 3D printing in Singapore?

A: I believe more people need to be educated. 3D Printing here is still not widely accepted. Sometimes I organise workshops to educate people about the benefits of 3D printing. There are also people who pass by our shop and get curious about what 3D printing does. We explain to them and show them what this technology is like, how you can customise things for your own use. I believe it’s going to take about five to 10 years for Singapore to embrace the benefits of 3D Printing, especially in the commercial market. For that, you will need to have a successful business model in order to survive.

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