This is the final part in a four part series highlighting stops made along the first ever 3D Printing #ShapewaysRoadtrip across America. Over the last week, I visited Las Vegas, Denver and Chicago before a final and momentous stop in Cincinnati. Thank you all for following along on my journey; I look forward to the adventures yet to come!
The drive into Cincinnati brought refreshing humidity. The arid climate of the desert and Great Plains had dried both Martini and I out, and we welcomed the change as the trees grew taller and the hills rolled more dramatically.
Cincy is a delightful oasis in middle America. Quincy and Natalie, my co-conspirators and Shapie superstars 3DKitBash, had arranged our first meetup in the Northside at Happen Inc’s Toy Lab, an inspiring nonprofit dedicated to creative toy re-purposing. Cincinnati is steeped in toy history, Kenner started here, and the design ecosystem is delightfully play-centric. Tommy, product designer turned nonprofiteer and youth engager, and his team dismantle donated toys and sort them into bins. Children then can select seven recycled toy parts and assemble them (with the help of adults) into new unique creatures. These new toys are named, given super powers, and put up online at the end of the experience. Coming from traditional product design and having seen a lot of injection molded waste, I was incredibly inspired by the vision of Toy Lab and all of Happen, Inc.
The group was uniquely comprised as well. The most realistic R2D2 in the world made a cameo, alongside makers from ages seven to 70 who diligently took notes and asked questions. Conveniently, the Toy Lab had just received their first Ultimaker. The vibrant crowd huddled around it like a fire on a cold winter night after our discussion, ideas flowing like the Mississippi. Toy celebrities mingled with eager minds over pints with R2D2 (yes, he came to the bar after) into the am and everyone left inspired and full of new printable ideas. One lucky girl even got her first piece of 3D Printed jewelry, a bracelet made during my presentation!
The next morning, Nugg-it, a Cincy based wearable tech startup co-founded by dear friends of mine, Mike and Matt, hosted me at their co-working space, Cintrifuse, in the heart of downtown. Twenty five professionals “ooooh-ed” and “aww-ed” at the geometric jewelry I’d brought in over coffee. It was fun to talk with a crowd hyper-familiar with conventional product and manufacturing cycles.
Coffee turned into lunch with Quincy and R2D2’s handler, Chris, at an amazing hole-in-the-wall Indian restaurant. One of the most delightful aspects of Cincy is that everyone wants to share the history of the area. From toy sculpting, to the subway that never was, residents imparted local lore and wisdom here more so than anywhere else in the country; a sure sign I was much further east than when I began.
After lunch, I returned to my host lair downtown inspired and exhausted. Sipping a glass of champagne, pensively reflecting atop a beautiful Cincy rooftop Friday evening, my heart was full of love for our community and my mind full of ideas for the future. The feelings of gratitude I have for everyone who made this possible is overwhelming. You, yes you, are a beautiful, creative and dynamic group unlike any other I’ve had the good fortune to work with. Keep doing, making, designing, and pushing the boundaries of a newly 3D printed world.
There’s really no way to conclude an experience as epic as the first 3D Printing #ShapewaysRoadtrip across America, so I’ll leave you with this quote from Yogi Berra, “When you arrive at a fork in the road, take it.”