This week we’re thrilled to feature James Knight, of Knight Customs. James has a unique shop for a niche community; specializing in scale R/C custom parts including scale parts, driver figures, and body sets.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? Where are you located?
I am originally from the UK but I have been living in LA for the last 12 yrs. I have been working in the toy industry for the last 15 yrs and have been fortunate to work at a number of great companies, LEGO, Mattel & Spin Master. I am currently the Chief Creative Officer at Day6 Sports, a new start up bringing back the beloved Backyard Sports video game property to both Mobile gaming and traditional sporting goods toys. I am basically a kid who never grew up and was lucky enough to find a way to earn a living playing with and creating toys.
What’s the story behind your designs? What inspires you?
Along with a life time passion of toys, I have been in love with Radio Control models (RC) since the age of 9 when I first discovered hobby grade models made by Tamiya. I am fascinated with the miniture scale details and performance that go hand in hand with the hobby. There is something magical about building a model that moves and looks exactly like its full size counterpart. It is also a great way to own a small part of the full size vehicle at a fraction of the cost.
What brought you to 3D printing with Shapeways?
After having the idea that I could create 3D printed parts for my RC projects, I set about searching all the vendors possible that could print my parts for me. Shapeways won hands down, not just because of the excellent quality of the prints and materials available, but the ability to host a store and the excellent customers service that comes with it.
How did you learn how to design in 3D?
I was fortunate to attend an Engineering College back in the early 90’s that was helping develop the AutoCad software. Back then it was predominately 2d, but by the time I got to University we were starting to use the CNC and the early SLA printers. Throughout my professional career I have used a number of CAD programs all the way up to the high end Pro-E and Unigraphics software (now PTC Creo & NX). But being trained as a industrial product designer I have always been interested in the intersection of traditional ideation methods such as sketching, sculpting and hand made prototypes in combination with the latest CAD tools.
How do you promote your work?
My work is promoted predominately through FaceBook, RC forums and Instagram. I have also been fortunate to have my work featured in a number of RC publications thanks to people like Peter Vieira at RC Car Action. Peter can see how 3D printing is beginning to change the hobby and has been a great at highlighting its progress.
Who are your favorite designers or artists? Who in the Shapeways community has served as an inspiration to you?
I have quite an eclectic list of people who inspire me. From John Lasseter and Ed Catmull at Pixar to Jonathan Ive, J Mays and Freeman Thomas in the product and Automotive design fields. In the Shapeways community I am always blown away by the jewelry designers, both in how they are pushing the limits of printing with metal to the professionalism of the presentation of their work. In the RC field there are a number of amazing modelers who build cars that are so incredibly real if you saw a picture you wouldn’t be able to tell it is a model. Headquake RC is a guy who sculpts his models out of wood by hand. His creations are hands down the best out there and show a level of artistry that is on another level. Headquake serves to remind me that designs that capture your imagination can be created with the most basic of tools/material.
If you weren’t limited by current technologies, what would you want to make using 3D printing?
For my designs it would be great to be able print all the small screws and fasteners as well as to be able to automate the other off the shelf parts like LED’s, electronics and wires for lighting. Ultimately printing a complete car including electronics and transmission parts, a complete ready to run RC model.
Anything else you want to share?
There is much talk about the democratization of design because of 3D printing, which I think is true and great for people who want to create. However where I see it really changing the world is by being able to digitally distribute designs globally for localized, on demand, manufacture – effectively changing the paradigm for product development, manufacturing and distribution. It just blows my mind that we get to witness this manufacturing revolution and I get in some small way to help figure out how it will help benefit the hobby industry.
We asked James about his favorite/most interesting products to date:
I think the best 2 products to talk about are probably the Knight Customs Sand Rail and my latest release, the detail kit for the Axial Jeep Rubicon.
The reason for this is that the Sand rail really pushed the used of a few different materials. WSF for the structural chassis components, Sandstone for the full color driver and the Frosted Ultra Detail for some of the engine parts.
The Jeep parts have been best sellers and take advantage of the flexibility of the number of parts I can make available, allowing each customer to select the combination of parts they wish to make there own custom jeep. Now also using the customize feature allowing customers to write their own name or favorite saying on the front grill (ANGRY grill custom).
WHAT WE LOVE ABOUT THIS SHOP:
- Awesome photography (especially for having a shop full of smaller parts)
- Great branding
- Shop sections for easy shopping
- Fun use of CustomMaker