Designer Spotlight: Todd Blatt

This weeks Designer Spotlight focuses on Todd Blatt, long time community member here at Shapeways, inspired by all kinds of technology including his new google glasses which have inspired a whole 3D printed accesories collection.

Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? Where are you located?
I am a mechanical engineer, artist, hacker and professional maker, transplant from Baltimore and living in Brooklyn. I was recruited to MakerBot to create flagship designs that showcase the full capabilities of The Replicator 3D printer. I spent 2012 working as a 3D designer and as the principal liaison with the MakerBot marketing department, responsible for integrating 3D design and printing in all marketing efforts.  I have since left the company and am working for Custom 3D Stuff, my own company which offers consulting, 3D modeling, and design services for businesses as well as sells custom 3D printed objects through shapeways and at festivals and art shows.

What’s the story behind your designs? What inspires you? 

My designs fall into the categories of movie props, jewelry, replicas, new products, engineering prototypes, and advertising and promotional material.  I like to live on the wild side.  I especially like to focus on 3D designs which are difficult or imposible to create with other manufacturing methods.  My software packages of choice are AutoCAD and Meshmixer.

What brought you to 3D printing with Shapeways?

I joined the Shapeways community in late 2009 and opened a shop in early 2010.  I ran the first Shapeways community member organized meetup which was in Baltimore, my hometown.  I joined Shapeways when I needed to 3D print some knobs for a radio.  A friend and I were trying to recreate the sonix victory 75 radio which is the exact model that the sandtroopers wore on their backpacks in Star Wars.  We used the Shapeways 3D printed knobs and radio faceplate to create molds and cast resin copies.  I eventually made enough products through Shapeways 3D printing, and using other digital fabrication tools that I was able to leave my engineering job and support myself. 

How did you learn how to design in 3D?

I started modeling in 1997 when the video game Jedi Knight came out.  It was a multiplayer first person shooter, and someone released a level editor that let you create new worlds to play in the game, and share with others online.  I created amzing worlds, and those 3D modeling skills transfered to the AutoCAD skills I have and still use today.

How do you promote your work?

My favorite way to promote my work is called “newsjacking.”  I try to find things that are popular, and buzzworthy, and quickly create models or content related to that news event.  I did this with the Pirate Bay Pirate Ship when the pirate bay launched their Physibles section, with the Hutzler banana slicer, with Higgs-Boson particle discovery, and most recently with the 3D scanning of Marcus Aurelius using Google Glass. You can also check out my Facebook Page or follow me on Twitter.

Who are your favorite designers or artists? 
I always loved M.C, Escher and Dali growing up, and have made many mathematically inspired pieces, some of which have made it to the Museum of Math’s gift shop.
If you weren’t limited by current technologies, what would you want to make using 3D printing?
Since we do have so many machines and materials available to us, I don’t feel that limited by 3D printing technology.  The most limiting part about it is price.  I’ve been tossing some ideas around with some friends and have come up with some ways around that, so stay tuned…

Anything else you want to share?

I just launched a Kickstarter campaign called GlassKap.  It’s hardware accessories for Google Glass.  I know my market is currently very small since Glass isn’t technically released to consumers yet, but I’ve got some things which appeal to non-glass owners too. A lot of the pieces are fun novelty items, and some are more functional and address privacy concerns.  The main product of GlassKap is a lens cover that acts as a visual indicator to others around to let them know they’re not being recorded. 

Check out Todd’s designs at his Shapeways Shop, or on his website, and if you’d like to be the next featured designer, email natalia@shapeways.com

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