Meet the Shapies: Steven Gonzalez

Meet the Shapies introduces the people behind the 3D printing processes that bring your favorite products to life. This time, get to know Steven Gonzalez, a 3D printing engineer in New York who works tirelessly to fabricate your Black High Definition Acrylic creations.

Here, Steven tells us about his own podcast and maker channel, and his impressive career in the 3D printing industry.

Where is your hometown?
My hometown is New York — born and raised in Brooklyn!

How long have you been with Shapeways?
I have been with Shapeways almost two years now. Time flies!

How long have you been 3D printing?
3D printing has been a part of my life for a long time now, maybe six or seven years, non-stop. I started working in this field by chance; I was right out of school, working in a supermarket with my brother, and was really unhappy with the way my life was turning out. I was doing back-breaking work until a friend working at a desktop 3D printing company encouraged me to apply for a job there. I had no idea this would spark a career and a passion for making things. When I eventually came across a job 3D printing with Shapeways, I was very excited because I had purchased from them before and couldn’t wait to dive into a bigger pond of challenges.

What is your favorite 3D printed object ever?
Favorite 3D printed object ever? No way I can just pick one! I have printed so many things in my time in the field. I have done collaborations with some of the biggest names in pop culture. After building my first machine and seeing a small part printed, my goal was always to answer the question how big can we print? I always said I wanted to print things over 6 feet! When I first got into 3D printing, it was not a thing to print that massive. One of my most recent print jobs was a 3-foot mace prop weapon from World of Warcraft. I definitely love making props for display or other people’s cosplay.

If you could 3D print something in any material, currently possible or not, what would you pick and why?
I have seen a bunch of materials I would not mind tackling, as well as some giant printers I would like to try! Recently, I’ve really wanted to go in a different direction than what I was used to. I am used to materials that print quickly and require post-processing to look amazing, but I was not used to materials that come out of the machine amazing. So, when I came to Shapeways, I really wanted to work with High Definition materials, and that is where I currently am. 

How do you spend your time when you’re not bringing our community’s 3D printed vision to life?
This makes me chuckle because when I’m not bringing the community’s 3D printed vision to life, I am probably bringing my own visions to life. I am very fortunate to be able to do a ton of creative things that I love to do, with the people I love. I podcast with my brother and best friend every week and its truly one of my favorite parts of the week. I also work on YouTube with my brother where we show people how to make some of these expensive props or replicas on the cheap. I spend most of my time with the love of my life, Jamie, and I am blessed to have a group of friends I grew up with that I admire and who believe in the dreams I have, no matter how crazy they seem to most. Oh yeah, and I watch a ton of Batman — the 1966 TV show. Holy lame hobbies Batman!

What’s the most exciting thing you’ve learned about 3D printing in your time at Shapeways?
The most exciting thing I’ve learned about 3D printing at Shapeways is more of an evolution; I’ve developed a real passion for quality in a product. Shapeways has so many materials, the knowledge and possibilities are endless. Working on one of the best teams of any 3D printing company is a bonus. Shapeways taught me a world beyond the materials and machines I was used too. Learning new programs,machines and materials is AWESOME! Being able to speak directly to the community is great as well.

What’s on your work playlist?
My work playlist is very eclectic, to say the least! Normally I am listening to podcasts like The Knuckleheads or The Brilliant Idiots on iTunes. Audiobooks are a must as well; I am either listening to biographies or something motivational. When it comes to music, my playlists are all over the place, from Black Sabbath to The Beatles, Symphony NO.5 to Kayne, Kendrick, Post Malone, Big Sean — anything ’90s or ’00s hip hop…. I can go on and on for days! As I write this I am listening to Sinatra and Cardi B. I told you my playlists are all over the place!

If you started your own Shapeways shop, what would you sell?
My Shapeways shop would probably sell things my brother and I have made on our Super Maker Brothers channel so people can order the parts and follow along with the video. Chances are I would probably sell some obscure random items or desk toys.

In a perfect world, what is the trajectory of 3D printing?
In a perfect world I would love to see 3D printers in every classroom. I think schools should have innovation centers with printers, woodworking, metalworking, casting, and all types of making with your hands. Any time I explain 3D printing to people who aren’t super familiar with it, I try my best to get them out of the mindset of cheap plastic toys. 3D printing is much more than just toys. Besides mold-making, prototyping some of your everyday household items, or even parts for transportation, 3D printing is huge in the medical field! Anytime I go to the doctor or surgeon I try and push them to look into 3D printing. After training for Strongman and injuring my spine, I think it could have been cool if the doctor had had a printout of my spine to show me the problem areas.

Give us some words to live by!
Do they have to be mine? Can I say “To infinity and beyond!” or “This crest is a symbol of hope” or “Wubba lub dub dub!”?  OK, I’ll give some words I live by:

Why let go of the branches to reach another branch when you can just own the tree?

Let me explain. Let’s say all the branches are my dreams. I want to podcast or do radio so I grab that branch but there is a another branch where I can make props on YouTube, so I let go of the podcast one to reach that one. But now I see a bunch of branches that say different things like voice acting, filmmaking, clothing designer, twitch gamer, entrepreneur, etc. Never let go of any one branch because if you can own the tree, then all the branches are yours. Do it all! They each can cross-promote, and one hand washes the other. Crazy doesn’t mean impossible.

Any questions for Steven or the other 3D printing engineers? Ask in the comments and we will deliver!

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