Desmond Tan does more than just 3D printing

Desmond is one of the

Today we caught up with Desmond Tan, Marketing Manager of local top 3D printing giant Creatz3D Pte Ltd

Desmond represents an industry that has been growing spectacularly in the past years, with even Barack Obama and Lee Hsien Long nodding in unison that 3D printing has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything.

But for an industry so formidable, it is curious how little we actually know about it. We find out the story behind Desmond’s interest, the surprise uses of 3D we never thought about and some of his favorite projects.

Desmond is one of the
Desmond is seen here at Singapore’s First 3D Printing Festival explaining 3D technology

Hi Desmond! What got you interested in 3D printing?

Well, it has to do with my dad being in the plastic manufacturing industry and my personal hobby of toy collecting and designing. A friend came up to me and when he was discussing the 3D industry with me, a lot of new ideas and potential pitches started coming to mind. My interest started to build further there on.

That sounds exciting already. Was it easy being in this industry?

Not particularly. We had to create awareness and educate the public about 3D technology. It is somewhat of a niche market and most businesses were hesitant about switching to using 3D as it is very new to them. But over the years, we have slowly established our ground.

There is indeed a renewed interest in 3D every year! What is your favourite project?

Most of them are confidential but there is one I can share with you.

National University Hospital adopted 3D technology in 2013 to help with reconstructive surgery. For instance, if a patient gets into a car accident and fractures his skull, doctors can use CAT scans of his skull and compile them together to send it into the 3D printer.

It will then recreate a precise, complete prototype of the patient’s skull, allowing doctors a 3D view and more vital information on conducting the surgery because they can now locate veins in absolute accuracy and decide on the best incision points. You can even print hip replacements that can be completely compatible with a patient’s body. It is limitless, untapped potential.

It is personally my favourite project because it can truly help save lives.

This nifty sculpture costs over $100 a piece
This nifty sculpture, seamlessly created in 3D, costs over $100 a piece

That is amazing. What is one thing most people don’t know about 3D printing?

Did you know that most major movies have their props done with 3D printing?

You have your Pacific Rim, Iron Man 3, Lord of the Rings – these designs are have to be heavily customize-able and so 3D printing comes to great use here. However, it is not easy to materialize designs into real life. Scanning requires skill and while 3D is powerful hardware, it needs the right operators to be properly and fully utilized.

We are looking at the printing process of a 3D model
We are looking at the printing process of a 3D model

On that note, what projects do you hope to undertake in the future?

I hope one day I would be able to make an app that allows customize-able avatars and printing. There are actually people doing this right now, you can design your face on your Star Wars figurine and they will print it for you. Imagine that.

By Nicole Lee