Learning more about 3D printing with a Grand Forks business owner
The Grand Forks Herald sat down with Dalton Ramos, owner of Forkin 3D, which is inside his other business Valley Tech Pros, for 5 Questions this week.
GRAND FORKS — The Grand Forks Herald sat down with Dalton Ramos, owner of Forkin 3D, which is inside his other business Valley Tech Pros, for 5 Questions this week.
Q: Why did you start Forkin 3D?
A: So I was having one of my weekend nights of just having fun, having a relaxing night and working on my 3D printer that I have at home. And I actually ran out of parts and filament that I needed, and I just sat there just angry that, after I looked up how long it was going to take me to get parts, my 3D printer was gonna be down, and I'm gonna be out of filament for like a week because shipping is so terrible. And I kept thinking, 'I wish we had someone in Grand Forks (where) we could buy 3d printing supplies.' And then I sat there, then I realized, 'I own a store. I can make that happen.' So I brainstormed a little bit and did some research to find good, reputable 3D print suppliers to find that North Dakota is filled with 3D print suppliers, and we've got a really good market for it here in North Dakota. So I got set up with with 3D Fuel out of Fargo and made the store happen just because I was bored one night and decided this was something that Grand Forks needs and that I should make it happen.
Q: How does 3D printing work?
A: So the most common, popular way of 3D printing is you have a piece of plastic filament that runs through an extruder. So that extruder essentially pushes it using gears into what's called a hot end. That hot end heats up the filament and pushes it through a very tiny nozzle, we're talking like (a) 0.4-millimeter-thick nozzle, and deposits material on a print bed or print surface one thin little layer at a time. And as it goes over it, it layers those layers on top of each other until you end up with a complete product.
Q: What are practical uses for 3D printing?
A: Doing fun things. One of my fun projects is I turned my light switch into giant breakers, so when we come into my store in the morning and we want to turn on the lights, we're flipping big breakers. That's always kind of fun. But there's a lot of practical uses, such as repair. If you have something that parts aren't made for anymore. There's a popular one going around for IKEA, (which) had created these closets that have brackets that hold up arms. Well, they stopped making those brackets, but those arm brackets break all the time, so somebody created a 3D print file to be able to print new brackets. So there's a huge market for repairing products and things like that. And then also the other big side of it right now is cosplayers. They'll use it to create their armors and their helmets and their body pieces and their weapons in ways that they've never been able to before.
Q: Do you think 3D printing is a growing industry?
A: I think it's going to grow really quickly, and it's starting to grow more quickly every day. As we get better developing the 3D printers themselves and getting the 3D printers to be more user friendly, they're going to become more available to the non-technical people. There's already some great 3D printers out there that are mostly just set up and go, an you need very little technical knowledge and very little troubleshooting skills, and within a couple of minutes, you can start printing out your very own projects that you want.
Q: Do you see Forkin 3D expanding to its own building in the future?
A: Currently, (there are) no plans. It is a hope. We hope that someday, it takes off well enough that we can move it into its own building or its own storefronts. But right now, there's no official plans for that.