Aug 14, 2016 | By Tess

A seemingly small scale 3D printing project recently launched in France has wonderfully demonstrated the dedication and efficiency of the maker community, showing how a collaborative 3D printing project can actually realize the impossible. French electronics retailer Boulanger recently reached out to French 3D printer network platform Freelabster to bring together makers from all over France for a simple, but specific 3D printing challenge.

Essentially, Boulanger challenged Freelabster to deliver 50 3D printed pieces to 9 of its stores throughout France. To make the task even more pressing, Boulanger requested that the orders be 3D printed locally and delivered by hand to the stores within a 24 hour period. If the task was completed, each maker who delivered the 50 pieces would be entitled to a €60 reward. Amazingly, and through much dedication on the part of Freelabster employees, and the French maker community, the challenge was a success and has demonstrated just how quickly and efficiently the maker community can be mobilized.

For the actual challenge, Boulanger had a specific order put out: makers were to print 50 pieces, which included 40 Pokéball chips, and 10 Pokémon Go launchers, adapted for three types of smartphone. According to Freelabster, it would take about 10 hours to print all of the pieces on a desktop 3D printer (a single print for the 40 chips, and 2 prints for the 10 launchers) so they had to spread the word quickly to their community of makers. The challenge was quickly posted on the Freelabster dashboards of all the platform’s certified makers, was sent out through a newsletter to over 600 makers, and was SMSed to makers within the vicinity of one of the 9 stores.

Within an hour, replies were already coming in and Freelabster already had two of Boulanger’s nine stores checked off: in Mandelieu and Nîmes. Next, makers volunteered in Paris, Rennes, Lyons, and Gennevilliers to take up the challenge. With only twelve hours left of the challenge, Freelabsters was still missing volunteers in Avignon, Toulon, and Caen, as no fab shops were opened in their vicinities. Fortunately, makers in neighbouring regions took up the challenge and were allowed to ship their pieces through Chronopost.

Amazingly, after many of the makers toiled through the night to have all the parts printed in time, each of Boulanger’s nine locations received their 3D printed package on time. As Freelabster points out: “This event is not trivial, as it reflects new practices brought about by a number of web innovators and economic players. Collaborative 3D printing can allow local businesses to find their place within a larger network in a way that ensures strength.”

That is, though the challenge of printing Pokéballs may not strike you as very significant, the whole process of mobilizing, printing, and locally delivering products shows just how much can be achieved through 3D printing networking and communities. Perhaps the next time a challenge like this takes place it will be for something much more significant.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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