by Ricardo Castano IV, Shapeways Magazine
Sometimes a 3D printing passion project can be about more than just the personal. Sometimes, 3D printing can help us connect more deeply with our families and our communities. Ron Rose, founder of 3DP4E.com andKidsCreationStation.com, is a lifelong techie who, like us, is passionate about bringing 3D printing to everyone. He’s starting in his hometown — with help and inspiration from his son, Jake.
Ron talked with us about a new outlet for 3D printing he’s discovered thanks to his son’s work, and how it has helped them connect to the community they love.
How did you find out about this project?
Fresh out of college, my son had this idea to create a coloring book based on iconic buildings where we’d spend our summers. It was called Color Greenport. He and I went around Greenport trying to find the best places to include for the book, then he cranked out a finished book in six weeks. After it sold out at the store he left it with, they asked for twice what he left them — and his business was born.
When we heard about the Suffolk County Historical Society Museum’s exhibition “Riverhead in Living Color,” we thought it would be a perfect opportunity to showcase the work that Jake had done thus far, the book on Riverhead especially. Then we had the idea to 3D print some of these beautiful landmarks Riverhead has to offer, [in Full Color Sandstone], and we got in contact with the SCHS. We were elated to find out that they thought it was a great idea as well, and wanted it to be a featured exhibit! After the SCHS event, the exhibit is going to become a permanent exhibit at the Railroad Museum of Long Island.
How are you and your son working together on this?
Jake is really the powerhouse behind it all. He does the research, legwork, and photography to get a prototype. From there he sends it to the talented artists he works with to get the line drawings. From there, he compiles the book himself, writes the copy, edits it, and publishes it.
What does it mean to you to work on this with Jake?
I mean, you really can’t say anything that does justice to that feeling. Working with him to create a business that sells a product people love means more to me than I can really put into words. My pride in him swells every time I think of what he’s accomplished thus far, honestly. I’m glad to have been able to help him along with my skills as well. As far as this exhibit, I don’t think there’s ever been anything done at this scale, with this level of detail, and I’m very excited to be part of it.
How does it feel to have a lasting legacy with this project?
Honestly, it just feels great. I personally hope this exhibit gives kids the inspiration to go into 3D printing — to see the depth and complexity of what’s possible, and how you can create amazing things with that. And if we’re lucky, we can do that for every town Jake wants to make a coloring book of. And judging by what he’s got on the horizon, that’d be quite a few cities to build!
Outside of this project, what do you primarily use 3D printing for?
Well, I’ve been in the creative space for over 40 years. I remember doing computer programming on punch cards! But when I found 3D printing, I pursued a business centered in education. I aimed to provide children and those interested in the field with the tools to start for themselves. It’s really been my passion to try and make this amazing technology accessible to everyone.
How does it feel to do what you do? How does it feel to finally hold that finished piece in your hand?
It doesn’t get much better than that. I mean, I love this. Even when I wasn’t working with Jake, 3D printing gives you a product that you simply can’t get anywhere else. And while it feels great to hold the finished piece, the greatest part comes when you share it with others. It’s why I’m so passionate about this project. So many people are going to see what 3D printing can accomplish that might have never seen it before.
Finally, what does the future hold for you? What do you have coming up, and what plans do you have moving forward for your model-making?
Going forward, I really want to help Jake accomplish his goals. I have total confidence in the product he makes. His work inspires hometown pride, something that deserves to be spread far and wide. I also want to ensure that 3D printing is accessible and inspirational to our audiences.
Coloring books are a great cross-demographic product right now. I hope the combination of those, nostalgia for one’s hometown, and the terrific pieces my son uncovers in his research can get more people passionate about 3D printing. Even if that doesn’t happen, I’m just proud to be at my son’s side as he follows his dreams.