TRAVERSE CITY – Automotive companies use 3-D printing to test new parts before starting mass production.
The owner of a New York organic dog treat bakery used the technology to replicate his favorite cookie cutter and increase production.
“It’s not necessarily the 3-D printing that’s interesting, it’s what people are going to do with it,” said Christopher Nesbit, Alpha 3D CEO.
Nesbit launched Alpha 3D Professionals on May 1 to connect customers with 3-D printing services. He hopes to bridge the gap between complicated technology and people with ideas.
3-D printers take designs made or scanned on a computer, break them into tiny layers and print those layers using a material such as plastic or nylon. It’s technology that can make testing new parts cheaper and faster and let companies easily make unique, personalized products.
Alpha 3D doesn’t do any printing -- it connects customers and 3-D printers, designers and engineers. Nesbit simplifies the printing process for his customers and brings business to companies with expensive 3-D printing equipment. Nesbit merged his two companies, Skylab 3D and Streamline Prototypes, to create Alpha 3D.
Local companies noticed. Events to Remember, a Traverse City event planning company, partnered with Alpha 3D to make custom wedding cake toppers and 3-D “selfie models,” where people are scanned and recreated into small replicas.
Nesbit, 27, has a background in computer numerical control, where computer-powered machines carve parts from blocks of material. He was a graphic designer and looking for a way to start his own business. His mother suggested he go into 3-D printing.
“I’ve already grown up in that field, to own and run my own business,” Nesbit said. “It’s good to have those resources ... two parents who are entrepreneurs and two contacts in Pittsburgh who are involved in world class industrial manufacturing. I was able to pull some valuable resources from an early stage.”