For Deezmaker’s Diego Porqueras, the Path to 3D Printing Began With a Film Course

Diego Porqueras, along with Bukobot-printed 3D objects, at his Deezmaker store in Pasadena.

Diego Porqueras, along with Bukobot-printed 3D objects, at his Deezmaker store in Pasadena.

These days 3D printing is everywhere. Creatives are using this emerging technology to make everything from fashion gowns to gummy replicas of themselves. Even the President mentioned it in his most recent State of the Union address.

One man who’s made quite a name for himself in this burgeoning arena is Diego Porqueras, inventor of the BukoBot 3D printer and the president and founder of Deezmaker, a 3D printer store and hackerspace in Pasadena. Surprisingly enough, the path that led Porqueras into this brave new world began with an Art Center at Night (ACN) film course he took 13 years ago.

“I took Basics of Film with Robert Mehnert and that ended up being a big turning point in my career,” says Porqueras, who said he already had some experience making movies prior to the class but that the course provided him with a better grasp of the basics.

But that wasn’t the turning point. That happened when an ACN classmate who was working as a production assistant told the class he was leaving the country for two weeks and asked if anybody would be interested in taking his place on a few productions. “I was the first guy to raise my hand for that,” says Porqueras with a laugh.

Porqueras’ extensive knowledge of cameras (his father is a photographer) meant he was able to land one job after another in Hollywood, from developing underwater camera rigs to working as a digital imaging technician, for films ranging from the hip hop DJ documentary Scratch (2001) to the Jim Carrey comedy Fun with Dick and Jane (2005) to the Coen Brothers’ Burn After Reading (2008).

But Porqueras’ life took another turn when he saw a CNN news segment about 3D printing in the home. “I thought it was the coolest thing ever,” says Porqueras, who immediately imagined how useful a 3D printer could prove in the world of camera technicians. “Camera operators and Steadicam guys always need brackets for shots and they’re always throwing stuff together at the last-minute. I thought that with a 3D printer you could easily make brackets out of plastic that would be durable.”

An interest in learning how to use 3D printers soon developed into an interest in how to make 3D printers. And in April 2012, Porqueras introduced the world to the Bukobot, an easy-to-use open source 3D printer, via Kickstarter. His goal was to raise $42,000 for the project, which he ended up nearly quadrupling. “We’re trying to set ourselves apart from our competitors by making a good quality machine that’s also affordable,” says Porqueras of his Bukobot 3D printers, of which he plans to unveil new models at next month’s MakerFaire in San Mateo, Calif. “They might not have a super fancy cover and a nice logo, but they’ll print really, really good and they’re reliable and consistent.”

His success with the Bukobot on Kickstarter, coupled with opening the first 3D printer store on the West Coast–and only the second in the United States–makes him a natural fit for this Saturday’s Designer Technologies: Is 3D Printing Creating a New Entrepreneurial Ecosystem? event, part of the Caltech Entrepreneur’s Forum, in which he’ll be speaking on a panel along with Thingify’s Brian Arandez, LA Makerspace’s Tara Tiger Brown and Edward C. Tackett, RapidTech Director at University of California Irvine and Saddleback College.

A few 3D objects printed using a Bukobot on view at Deezmaker in Pasadena.

A few 3D objects printed using a Bukobot on view at Deezmaker in Pasadena.

After that, it’ll be time for the afore-mentioned MakerFaire and, if things go well, possibly moving Deezmaker a few doors down to a vacant corner unit. “The store would be twice as big which means we could have some good-sized Arduino and 3D printing classes,” says Porqueras. “Plus, it has windows on two sides. Having more light always feels better.”

Interested in diving into the world of 3D printing for yourself? Check out this this summer’s brand new Art Center at Night (ACN) course Introduction to 3D Printing.

In this course, instructors David Cawley and Bruce Dominguez will help students explore the present and future of this technology. Students enrolled in the class will learn about the different types of 3D printers available, create part files and send them to different machines, take an off-campus field trip to see how industry is using 3D printing and develop a foundation that will help them incorporate this technology into future projects.

Summer courses begin May 13. Register today!

—Mike Winder

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