BEMIDJI -- The 3D printing industry has been active for roughly 30 years, but in the last five, it has made leaps and bounds.
As a result, Bemidji resident and BSU graduate Mike Block, who’s worked in the industry for many years, has decided now is the right time to start his own 3D printing business.
At a meeting of Bemidji business leaders Wednesday, Block introduced his idea for his company and what the world of 3D printing entails. Additionally, he also shared how he first became interested in the 3D printing concept while attending Bemidji State.
“I thought it was amazing, that you don’t have to make a model manually with your hands, now you can just design it and let the printer make it,” Block said in an interview after the meeting. “As the industry continued to evolve, it just got more exciting for me.”
During his presentation, Block shared the advancements of the technology, both with the printing speed increasing and the accuracy getting better. Because of the improvements, Block said the industry doesn’t just provide prototypes to customers for testing, but actual products too, such as medical tools.
With the state of the industry at its current level, Block opted to get involved. By Wednesday’s meeting, Block said, his company was in the process of compiling projection sheets to show what the capabilities of his business would be.
“It shows how many parts you can make in a month’s time. From there, we will be able to present it to lenders,” Block said. “We are narrowing in on a space in town here and we’ve already got people lined up who’re interested in working for us. Then we can get the equipment and get set up.”
Block estimates that the projection sheets will be finished by the end of July, and he hopes to have the business up and running by the end of August. Once opened, Block said he’s expecting to have four to five pieces of industrial 3D printing equipment. Additionally, Block is looking to hire two application engineers, two CADD drafters and an accountant.
“I think that will be a good place to start with what we have,” Block said. “Our plan is to start with the local community first, start there and then branch out. I think it’s important. As the word gets out and spreads, I think that will bring in more opportunity outside the area.”
Block presented his idea during the weekly entrepreneurs meetup at the LaunchPad, a co-working space and program at downtown’s Mayflower Building helmed by Greater Bemidji Economic Development. The weekly meetings allow business owners and industry experts to give feedback to people who are working on a new business.