Designer Spotlight: Bryan Salt

This week, we are happy to feature Bryan Salt of Thinker Thing! Bryan and his company is on to something amazing. By combining 3D modeling with an easy-to-use interface, Thinker Thing is bringing 3D modeling to the masses! You don’t have to have 3D modeling skills; simply choose different combinations to make your figurines. What better way to start playing than with robots and dinosaurs? Play with Thinker Thing on Dr. Fluff’s Robot Factory, then print with us!
Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? Where are you located?
My name is Bryan Salt, I live in the Andes mountains to the east of Santiago, Chile. I’ve been working in cutting edge 3D technology for 27 years including virtual reality, games, television & mobile 3D engines. My latest company, Thinker Thing, is dedicated to making 3D printing accessible to everyone.

What’s the story behind your designs? What inspires you?
I’ve been working with 3D printers for over 3 years, and it shocked me how poor the software is for creating for this fantastic technology. Current 3D printing software is based on outdated concepts from the 80’s, I know because I used to design this software back in the day. I wanted my 4 year old son to grow up being able to create his own toys, his own real objects and design his own perfect products. So I started the company Thinker Thing to develop software that could be used by anyone, can be learned in seconds, and is able to create professional results in minutes.
What brought you to 3D printing with Shapeways?
Our software vision was to allow anyone to build anything, to release the creativity that is in every one of us. It would have been disappointing if we had to limit this vision to a few people who have their own printer, so when we started the company the first thing we did was to track down Shapeways and do tests with your service. The speed, quality, cost and service really surprised us beyond our expectations. Most people are aware of 3D printing, but still have no concept of the quality and material variety that can be produced. It’s fantastic when we show people the gold and ceramic models of our robots and monsters, you can see the instant change in their perception of what is possible. With Shapeways, we can allow anyone anywhere in the world to create and print items from their mobile phone in the material of their choice.
How did you learn how to design in 3D?
Back in ’89 I was working for a games company, Incentive, that put the first 3D games on 8 bit machines like the ZX spectrum. That was really a difficult thing to do back then and it gave me a fundamental understanding of 3D. My philosophy throughout my career has been to build the right tools for artists in order for them to maximize new technology.
How do you promote your work?
We’re very lucky that everyone seems interested in our work, we had more than 500 Million views worldwide last year. I’m hoping this year people continue to be excited by what we do. It’s a great boost that other people enjoy what we do as much as we do.
Who are your favorite designers or artists? Who in the Shapeways community has served as an inspiration to you?
We like what Nervous Systems are doing… helping the market grow and raising awareness whilst adding credibility to the processes.
If you weren’t limited by current technologies, what would you want to make using 3D printing?
We’d like to see full colour printing in plastic, this would allow our users to create really fantastic toys. We want a kid to be able to design his toy, and for it to arrive in production quality plastics already assembled with mass manufactured electronics, like a remote control robot. You can see our test hereOn a practical note, we’d love to see Shapeways local printing in each county. 3D printing is a technology of the future, but unfortunately individual country’s customs practices are still in the dark ages.
  • Amazing branding
  • Amazing photography
  • Fun, inventive concept
  • Experimentation with a variety of materials
  • Interesting use of “Coming Soon” products to get customers excited about the next best things
Thank you so much for the wonderful interview, Bryan. Your ideas are inspiring and exciting and we are honored to be a part of the process. Keep up the amazing work and we can’t wait to keep sharing! Find Bryan and Thinker Thing on their website, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and Pinterest. As always, if you’d like to be featured, please email aimee @ shapeways.com.
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