JOHOR BARU: A factory owner here is on a mission to increase public awareness on what he calls “the closest thing to magic in the real world” – 3D printing.
Sean Ng (pic), 30, who has been involved in the 3D printing industry for over a decade, said he started learning about the trade when he was studying industry design in Taiwan.
“I fell in love with 3D printing as I feel that I could create almost anything as long as I can imagine and come out with a design for it. For me, it is the closest thing to magic in the real world.
“It is not a difficult thing to learn and most of the people I know learn it through videos and articles online. In fact, we could even make our own 3D printers based on instructions available online. The first 3D printer I owned was a DIY (do-it-yourself) piece assembled with spare parts I bought online,” he added.
The only problem was that most Malaysians, he added, were either unaware of the technology or did not know where to start.
“This is a huge contrast from how things are in Taiwan where people are very much aware of the benefits of this technology,” he said in an interview.
Ng said when he returned to Johor in 2015, he opened a cafe in Kulai, where he served not only coffee but provided several 3D printers for customers to try out.
“We either helped them print out the prototype they had in mind or taught them a thing or two about 3D printing.
“My aim was to get as many people as possible interested in the technology as I felt that the awareness is still significantly low in Malaysia,” he said, adding that he also distributed 3D printers from Taiwan and China alongside his cafe business.
After closing down his cafe in 2019, Ng opened a 3D factory in Senai with his business partner, acting as a distributor for 3D printers and providing training to schools and businesses.
“We also help businesses with their research and development by producing prototypes for the specific items they need.
“I notice that there has been an increase in interest towards 3D printing since the Covid-19 pandemic as people looked for alternative ways to earn a living at home.
“It is a good improvement, but we still have a long way to go. I don’t mind giving free consultations to those interested in learning more about 3D printing, either for business or as a hobby,” he said.
Ng also hopes to see more ‘makerspaces’, a place where people can use their creativity to come out with all sorts of things, including 3D printed items, in Johor.
“In some countries, it is common to see people flooding a makerspace on weekends.
“It is a great way to expand one’s creativity to find better solutions to problems,” said Ng, who is looking into creating a makerspace for public use in his factory.