3D printing is all about pushing boundaries and solving problems. No one embodies this more than wearables shop owner Steven Arsenault. Stephen runs a cool shop called Parts and Accessories where he makes useful and stylish accessories for the Fitbit, Pebble, Garmin and more. Let’s hear what he has to say!
Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? Where are you located?
I have worked in ad-tech since arriving in San Francisco in 2012 from Canada. Prior to leaving Canada I worked as a graphic designer in the rapid prototyping industry with sheet metal for nearly 5 years, serving many branches of NASA, Naval laboratories, confidential US contracts, and the aeronautical industry.
What’s the story behind your designs? What inspires you?
Ranging from radioactive to purely utilitarian, I like to explore new designs and solutions to tricky problems.
One of my first designs was a carefully designed enclosure for the Fitbit Flex made in brass with semi-precious plating, I named it Fitbit Armour. When I say ‘carefully designed,’ I mean a tolerance of roughly 0.15mm, any less and it wouldn’t work. If I said I like to push the 3D manufacturing provided by Shapeways to their extremes it might be an understatement.
I would gladly accept the title nerd, because it’s tolerances like that which bring me back again and again to produce something new and exciting – it’s the challenge of pushing my technical design skill with the tools and manufacturing available to me.
What brought you to 3D printing with Shapeways?
Prior to the winter of 2013 I had never used 3D printing before. To me, it was just a buzzword for people toiling away over hot extruded plastic. But I had worked with 50,000 watt laser cutters and ward-jet cutters, so I knew the extruded plastic couldn’t be the limit to additive manufacturing.
That December my soon to be grandmother-in-law showed me a “Neva-5”. If you’re not familiar with that name I can forgive you – it’s a weaving loom manufactured in the 80’s in Soviet Russia.
There’s a switch which must be flipped to adjust the tension on some of the loom mechanism. The original had been roughly cast and eventually broke.
To make a short story even shorter, two weeks later I gazed in awe at my first 3D printed part and had one very impressed grandma (though, no woven sweaters yet).
How did you learn how to design in 3D?
I was exposed to Solidworks during my experience with rapid prototyping. I had tried rhino and 123D CAD but Solidworks just felt RIGHT to me! Also, Youtube is a very patient teacher (if only I were a more patient student).
How do you promote your work?
I promote my work through Twitter and Instagram. I have a shop on Etsy as well, but direct most of my traffic to my Shapeways shop. You get what you put into social marketing!
Who are your favorite designers or artists? Who in the Shapeways community has served as an inspiration to you?
Is it too cliche to say Jony Ives and Dieter Rams? No matter, I love minimal design where the emphasis is on details that matter.
Still, there’s a special place in my heart for whimsy and clever flourishes. That would lead me to my two favorite Shapeway designers, Michael Mueller and Steven Gray. If consistency is key, these two guys never fail to impress.
If you weren’t limited by current technologies, what would you want to make using 3D printing?
I would make bicycles and things that propel themselves, the mechanical, the necessary. I would make it all!
Thanks for sharing Stephen, and make sure you check out his shop and follow him here.