Buzz Baldwin is the founder of 3D Printlife. The company is committed to reducing the environmental impact of 3D Printing. From their Enviro ABS, to their Eco-Friendly spooling and environmental contributions, they strive to deliver customers filaments, while protecting the world. 3D Printlife filaments are all made in the USA.
Give us a summary on your background and how you’ve reached this point in your life and career.
I grew up in New Hampshire. I have always had a love of nature. I went to Berkeley college of music and played in a band for a while. I loved it but I needed to pay the bills. Then I started working for Warner Brothers and worked for their animation scene. I then was looking to be a bit more entrepreneurial. I was sent an article in the Economist, and it was all about the revolution of 3D Printing. It was when all the patents were expiring. I then decided to try and get into the space. I was thinking that it would be a tech that almost everyone would have in their homes. We started looking for manufacturers. I had an imaging background so I was looking into a way to bring in non OEM branded filaments to the scene. Through luck I met a dental hygienist who had a friend who was a biochemist and we connected. This allowed for us to be able to start and make a filament that was our Enviro ABS line. It was eco friendly and compared well property wise to typical ABS filament. That did okay and gave us a great amount of brand recognition. We have been really trying to build a product line that is.
How has your early musical studies background been applicable to your entrepreneurial career?
I have met others in this space with a music background. I think there is a weird super power of looking at a complex scenario and being able to look at areas of improvement. We are able to look at a complex system and the ability to know the problem quickly. A lot of music is very geometrical. This is a simplistic way to look at it and it allows people to see things. Composition and lyric writing was essential for my studies. There are no rules but there are tools. With songwriting you have to create something that is interesting but not too repetitive. It is important to apply this thought process to entrepreneurship. When applied to my company there needs to be quality and differentiation. Anyone can write a song, but how is it memorable or good? It is difficult to make something that innately is boring when it has no real meaning until someone creates the story.
What got you interested in 3D Printing?
My friend sent me an article about 3D Printing and I thought that was really fascinating. The article did not really give a vision or understanding of what is the process. As a songwriter, you are creating something from nothing. With 3D printing you are able to create something from nothing. I think that is extremely empowering. It opens up a lot of possibilities. It opens up functional creativity. The ability to have decentralized manufacturing is amazing. An inventor in their garage can create a sustainable living for themselves. A remote makerspace in Africa has the possibility to create their own tools and develop. Makerspaces and fab labs around the world can benefit large organizations and people.
How is the field of additive manufacturing critical for the ideals of a circular economy?
It is tough. We have had a lot of people ask about this. Overall the idea is great. On the material side, the degradation of a polymer occurs always once it is used for 3D Printing so it is difficult. There are needs for engineering PEEK, and being able to make materials that are eco friendly. It is still difficult though.
3D Printed Pokemon from 3D Print Clean
What are the biggest concerns of additive manufacturing in terms of sustainability?
It is a tough question to answer. There are so many factors. Additive is a niche space. The great part about it is mostly prototyping and education. There is not a mass production level yet. We all want to change the world. There still needs to be a focus on making sure thermoplastics are placed in the right environment. Biodegradability is only applicable in certain locations. End users should be focused on how this actually important. I would hope additive will create a way for us to reduce mass produced and injection molded parts. It is a larger scale problem that people are somewhat ignorant to this.
What has been the biggest surprise in terms of the work you have done in this industry?
I am surprised by all the creativity out there. There is so much. The space lends itself well to this mindset. One is only limited by their imagination and it is great. There are endless possibilities. One of the biggest surprises is that I as someone who went to school for music can even have an impact on the space. It opens up invention and manufacturing to anyone. A bit of investment can lead a large way for anyone to be able to create something. The level of advancement for using technology to benefit humanity has been tremendous. The ability to think and then conceptualize allows people to build.