New graduate starts 3-D printing business.
Alex Madinger, BS ME ’13, has always been an inventor. It’s what drew him to study mechanical engineering, and it’s what inspired him to enroll in the first class for 3-D printing offered at Mizzou.
When he loaded his first design into the printer at the College of Engineering’s rapid prototyping laboratory, he started small. He sketched a business card holder. But it didn’t work. Due to a flaw in the design, he couldn’t even open it.
It wasn’t a failure though. He went back to the computer file, tweaked the design and printed another model. Being able to return to the drawing board repeatedly is the beauty of 3-D printing, Madinger says.
“With engineering, it’s expensive to try and do anything new,” he says. “Now, with 3-D printing, we can innovate faster and more cheaply than we ever thought possible.”
Madinger’s experience in the lab sparked an idea. He co-founded the 3-D Printing Club at MU, and in April 2013, he was a featured speaker at TEDxCoMo’s Feedback conference, an offshoot of the nonprofit organization TED, which brings together people from the technology, entertainment and design industries. In his presentation, he talked about the world of possibilities that opens up with 3-D printing.
“The wall between the physical and the digital world is being torn down,” Madinger says. “3-D printing opens up the possibility to move from a consumer to a producer. You interact with objects differently. You see them in a new light, and you are empowered by that.”
Madinger, of Chesterfield, Mo., along with his business partner Juard van Dijkhorst, launched Foundry Front, a business he hopes will place them at the starting line of the 3-D printing revolution. The team is in the proof of concept stage and is exploring ways to bring high-quality metal 3-D printed parts to the consumer sector.
Madinger closed his TED talk with a call to action: “I look at the objects around me differently. I think, ‘I could make that,’ or, ‘I could make that better.’ What will you make?”