20151021_162710Let’s start at the very beginning–a very good place to start!

Now that that’s stuck in your head (or at least in mine), there is an important takeaway from that musical earworm: to get in on any endeavor, you have to start somewhere. For high-tech pursuits, that isn’t always as easy as it sounds. To get started in 3D printing, where do you turn first? Do you buy an entry-level 3D printer? Learn how to use 3D modeling software? Jump in, or dip a toe in the waters by outsourcing services? While there are many incredible resources available to the maker community, one of those that has caught our attention on a number of occasions is that offered by the Bay Area’s HoneyPoint3D.

At last week’s Inside 3D Printing Santa Clara, I had the opportunity to catch up with co-founder Liza Wallach Kloski and some of the great team behind the operations at HoneyPoint3D to sit down and talk about what’s been going on with the company lately, and where they’re headed soon. We’ve already had a good look at some of their offerings, such as their class on Meshmixer and their teamwork with Autodesk–and our writer Scott also had a nice talk with the HoneyPoint3D team in Santa Clara.

“Fun and accessible is super important in this industry,” Kloski told me when we sat down together. “Some artists are very not technical.”

20151021_162718The basis for the work going on at HoneyPoint3D lies in those key sentiments, which in fact form the basis of much of the maker movement: being fun and accessible will bring more makers to more workshops, expanding the movement as one that people want to join.

Kloski noted that this is so ingrained into the company it’s built right into their name: Honey draws back to the fill material in many 3D printed parts utilizing a honeycomb pattern; Point references the point-of-entry into the field; 3D is fairly self-explanatory.20151021_162724

By appealing to the initial interest that draws in many wannabe-makers, HoneyPoint3D strives to build on that interest to “make 3D printing more accessible to consumers.” So far, HoneyPoint3D has a lot to show for their lofty-sounding goals: to date, they have taught 6,000 people, including 4,000 in person and 2,000 online, with classes ranging from six students to huge seminars full of aspiring creators. Courses extend to more than 20 countries around the world via YouTube, and every review the company has received (51 as of my sit-down with Liza) was a full five stars, which in the age of internet critics is almost unheard-of in approval rating.

“It’s way more savvy than two years ago,” Kloski told me of the market. “I’m hearing different questions now, more informed. The mainstream media has been getting word out on the surface.”

That word, though, has proven to be a double-edged sword. While more consumers have heard of 3D printing, mainstream media can often gloss over just what is involved. As Kloski noted, plug-and-play expectations can get disappointing. “Consumers want a microwave,” she explained, but that isn’t what today’s desktop 3D printer is. HoneyPoint3D offers an entire ecosystem for the consumer, though, with any level of service available. “They come to us to learn,” Kloski said, “or just have us do it.”

20151021_163102

Some of the HoneyPoint3D team at Inside 3D Printing Santa Clara: co-founder Liza Kloski and interns Alicia Moszee and Jeff Hansen

HoneyPoint3D runs a storefront in Oakland for hands-on learning opportunities, with open hours 11-3 on Saturdays or by appointment; the showroom is not open to the public Monday-Friday, as they do consultations during the week. Among the company’s full-service offerings are, notes the website, “3D printing and scanning retail stores, helping our customers from concept to finished product. We also offer educational classes, 3D printer sales, related accessory sales and customized business services dedicated to consistently providing high customer satisfaction and corporate team building events.”

20151021_144438

I was a CAD superhero thanks to HoneyPoint3D!

The focus now, as Kloski pointed out, is in online education. Following HoneyPoint3D’s Kickstarter campaign, they found themselves almost doubling their original goal, putting them in the top 7% of all 2015 campaigns in dollar terms. Autodesk will be putting the training that HoneyPoint3D offers on Meshmixer onto the official website, expanding the reach to make this training available to all users of the free program.

Educational goals include the what and the how–what is CAD, and how do you approach it? Training is available for both technical and non-technical (non-CAD) focus, depending on users’ needs and wants. Because big companies often work with professional industrial engineers, “The gap we think we’re filling is everybody else,” Kloski said.

Another big next step for HoneyPoint3D comes up in just another two months, as Make: Getting Started with 3D Printing will hit the shelves in January 2016. With a narrative style, the book will focus on thought leadership, offering tutorials for both teachers and students, from beginners to more advanced users. Among the how-to lessons will be CAD modeling, printing, fixing, and working. The book is targeted to the consumer side, with advice and recommendations in an easy-to-read, easy-to-follow format.

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