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Interview with XYZ Workshop

May 27th, 2014


Interview with XYZ Workshop

“As easy as XYZ“ - this playful slogan is the first thing, that catches an eye when you open the website of XYZ Workshop , which, being formed at the beginning of 2013, is a fresh player in the market. Nevertheless, the authors of this project have loads of impressive stories to tell. CGTrader was delighted to have the opportunity to hear the inspiring story of one of the creators and we are very excited to share it with you.

The team of a husband and wife – Elena Low and Kae Woei Lim are Australian architects, who got intrigued by desktop manufacturing and were drawn to the potential of 3D printing. During the interview Kae Woei was printing a Thomas the Tank Engine costume for his 2 year old son. It just shows how passionate about his work he is.

They see XYZ Workshop as a hub for collaboration of creative enterprises and as as a teaching platform for 3D printing technology for different interested groups – from children to engineers.

XYZ‘s intention – to push the boundaries of 3D printing. Kae Woei Lim told us a lot about this enthusiastic aim and a lot more.

How did you come up with the idea of XYZ workshop and its’ concept?

It has started just a year ago when my wife Elena and I became interested in 3D printing and the idea of desktop manufacturing. Before that we were quite interested in 3D printing but we didn’t have enough knowledge about it to make an investment. The situation has changed after we’ve read the first 3D Printing Issue by Makezine. We finally had all the information for making a decision to buy a 3D printer. So we decided to purchase an Ultimaker kit as we liked the open source nature of the Ultimaker. The ability to upgrade your Ultimaker and open-sourced nature of the platform was a huge factor in making a decision.

Once we’ve started playing with the 3D printer we’ve loved it so much that we thought we could share this experience with others. We wanted to show that 3D printing is not that intimidating as it seems. It is quite easy once you get to know what your 3D Printer is really capable to print.

Being a new player in the industry you have already gained a lot of achievements. Could you please share few stories about your achievements with our community?

There were loads of 3D printing competitions which we were drawn to. It helped to challenge our creativity and push our ideas.

The first entry we did was a 3D printed toy design competition organised by Grabcad. It was a toy robot that was able to launch M&M's chocolates from his cannon. We’ve got a 6th place there, but it was still a great job!

Later we entered the “My Mini Factory” competition and won a challenge with our micro-planter chess set design. We’ve created six hybrid vases as chess figures with real micro plants, like succulents, cacti and herbs.

We like this hybridisation using 3D printing in a variety of things - from chocolates to plants. In my opinion it gives a human touch to our projects and allows people to connect 3D printing designs with something familiar.

Last year we won a 3D fashion competition which was a big milestone for us. Initially we were not planning to participate , however Elena persuaded me to go for it. At the beginning I was quite anxious. We knew it was going to be difficult as we had only one desktop printer. However, we decided to give a try and take up the challenge. We made a 100% 3D printed dress top from about 26 different parts printed with a desktop printer and then stitched it all together.

The win was followed by an invitation from Ultimaker to help them create a dress for the 3D Printshow in New York. We were invited to present our work alongside with other well-known designers such as Joshua Harker, Nervous System, Pia Hinze and other big names!

It took about 191 parts and approximately 450 hours to print using flexible PLA.

So, this victory in the 3D fashion competition opened up new opportunities for you?

It definitely was a ground-breaking point for us and threw us into the international stage. It’s just amazing when we look back, we do not have any proper studio. We work from the little studio room on the dining table. 3D printed dress parts were assembled together on our kitchen floor and it still amazes us that it has ended up in the fashion runway in New York City - all the way from our little house in the suburbs of Australia!

That dress opened another door for us. We were invited to Netherlands for filming a documentary about 3D printed fashion for the Discovery channel. That was exciting!

The future of 3D printing: how do you see it?

Well, I believe 3D printers will be common thing in a household like a microwave is today. It is just a matter of time before it becomes more accessible, more user friendly and faster for the common consumer. Consumers would not have to depend on mass production lines in China for their products and there will be a whole new level of customisation in creating their own bespoke products.

Please tell our community more about your workshops. Why do you organise them?

XYZ Workshop has just started working with the City of Melbourne to conduct a 3D printing workshop for kids. People here generally think 3D printing is kind of a niche thing. However, we want to promote the idea that it is highly accessible, affordable and that it is not difficult to create something of your own design and print it. Using Ultimaker 3D printers and Doodle3D, we have demonstrated to the kids that it is quite easy to 3D print something from a sketch of their imagination to something physical. To be able to hold something in your hand is something quite powerful.

Each kid had a chance to their own creation and even their parents were really excited about what we were doing! A lot of kids were pestering their parents to buy a 3D printer.

Where is your inspiration coming from?

Inspiration really comes from all around us. From playing with our son. From observing how kids design something using their limitless imagination. From seeing what the 3D printing community is doing. The inspiration even comes to me when I’m in the shower!

And the final question - what's next?

I am not sure and I guess that is the beauty of it. We don’t know where we are going and that opens a lot of possibilities. We have been approached by a lot of people seeking for collaboration. Even a dance choreographer was interested in 3D printing and wanted to collaborate with XYZ Workshop to incorporate 3D printed elements into his dance performance.

I think we will continue innovating and creating. Hopefully we will concentrate on creating more workshops and a more advanced curriculum, so we can give more people access to 3D printing. We have a son and we would like to let him grow up in an environment of creativity and inspiration.

To be honest, I am not sure where XYZ Workshop is heading at the moment, but hopefully it is all in the right direction.

XYZ Workshop is moving ahead – Kaie and Elena just have been informed about winning one more design competition organised by NTU additive Manufacturing Centre Singapure. It is the second year in a row when XYZ Workshop is taking the grand prize of $10.000.

Congratulations on behalf of all CGTrader team and keep doing the great work taking 3D printing to the next level!

If you are curious to see more models of XYZ Workshop, follow the link: http://bit.ly/1kbBtyh

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