Jun 11, 2016 | By Alec

3D printers are excellent making tools for users of all ages. Among the regular visitors of the Fablab Taipei is the 14-year-old Cai Fu Ming, who sees the workshop as a second form of school. A 3D printing genius, the teenager has already turned his hobby into a career, working as a part-time 3D printing consultant, reseller and nozzle designer, and is earning 20,000 Taiwan Dollars ($610 USD) a month already.

So how does a 14-year-old become such successful figure in the 3D printing industry? As the young man explains, his huge passion for 3D printing brought him to the local Fablab, and even led him to obsessively study 3D printing hardware and its exact functions. Quickly becoming famous in the local 3D printing scene for being such a young expert, people began approaching him for help and tips. It’s why one 3D printer manufacturer contacted him to become a ‘technical adviser’ and a material tester. “We come to him because he is very good. Although we are a lot older than him, we ask him for help if we don’t understand something,” the manufacturer said.

But none of this would’ve been possible without the Fablab Taipei. Absolutely packed with 3D printers, CNC cutting machines and all manner of making tools, it is mostly frequented by adults that are anywhere from 25 to 40 years old. Cai Fu Ming, with his sneakers, shorts and huge backpack, stands out considerably. And yet, he is a very well-known maker in Taiwan’s 3D printing circles, and spends a lot of time at the Fablab. “He’s not an ordinary junior high school student, we do not treat him as a child,” one of the other Fablab users said of him.

What’s more, Cai Fu Ming’s business is growing quickly. About a year ago, he entered the 3D printer nozzle trading business. Working together with nozzle designers in Shenzhen, he worked to redesign a nozzle to make it more resistant to high temperatures. In return, he was given the ability to buy nozzles with a wholesale discount, and quickly set up a lucrative business in Taiwan selling the nozzles online for four times what he paid for them. With his monthly profits at about $610 USD, he is earning some serious pocket money. The nozzle is also very well received by users. Hong Kong's open source 3D printing startup TinyBoy has already ordered about 300 nozzles.

Cai Fu Ming is a bit proud of himself, but still feels that the success and reputation are unsurprising. “I'm actually a little surprised to be able to earn so much money, because I do things that are too easy. I just place an order in Taobao, and when the goods arrive I check the inventory and then take them to convenience stores to mail to the buyer,” he explains. However, he did add that making money wasn’t his goal; he simply loves 3D printing and the rest comes naturally. The ambitious young man is currently working on a robot arm (with home-made 3D printed parts), which he plans to take to the Shenzhen Maker Faire exhibition.

All that is especially remarkable because Cai Fu Ming is still in high school, and it emphasizes just how successful you can be with an entrepreneurial spirit. As the ambitious teenager explains, his key to success is fully embracing the technology as a teaching tool. “If something can teach you, then he or it is the teacher,” the fourteen-year-old argues, and he is absolutely correct.

In contrast, he does not like his regular school, and does not get along well with teachers or fellow students. He loves Lego, computers and RC cars, but just doesn’t care for the hobbies of his classmates, or for the result-oriented school system. “I know what I want, I learned what is most important, so why should I have to get that piece of paper [diploma]?” he wonders. “Does a good score really mean that you know it? I'm not interested in school. Teachers judge us for results, and I learn nothing from other students. Compared to schools, the Fablab is more like a school, and I learn more things from people here than at school.”

As he’s not interested in the subjects taught at school and his scores are quite low, Cai Fu Ming’s teachers told him it would be difficult to find a job after graduating. But the student disagrees, and feels that his little career shows that ‘finding a good job’ isn’t everything in life. Fortunately, his mother Song Jialing supports him. When told that her son’s grades needed to be improved, she told the teachers not to change anything for him. She also fully supports his love for 3D printing, which is giving her son a clear objective and is turning him into a clear thinker.

So what’s next for the young man? Well he isn’t quite sure, but he is ambitious. He might lose interest in 3D printing, saying he doesn’t want to continue playing with it forever. Instead, he would prefer to become a boss somewhere. “But even if Apple or Google want me to work for them, I still have to think about it. I do not just want to be a staff member,” he says. While he still has years ahead of him before having to make a decision, Cai Fu Ming’s career certainly shows that there’s more than one way to find success. A restrictive school system might not be for everyone, especially for early adopters of technologies that might not reach classrooms for years to come.



Posted in 3D Printer Company



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Tsai.Fu-Ming wrote at 6/12/2016 8:51:52 AM:

Hello, I'm Tsai.Fu-Ming~ Thank you for your report, I was really happy when I saw this article!! It's my pleasure ^__^ Thank you so much

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