GRAND FORKS – The Grand Forks Herald sat down with Dalton Ramos, owner of Forkin 3D, part of his other company Valley Tech Pros, for 5 Questions this week.
Q: Why did you launch Forkin 3D?
A: So, I was spending one of my weekend nights having fun, having a relaxing night and working on my 3D printer that I have at home. And I actually ran out of parts and filament that I needed, and I just sat there, just angry that after looking at how long it would take me to get parts, my 3d printer was going to be broken down, and I’m gonna be out of filament for about a week because the shipping is so terrible. And I kept thinking, “I wish we had someone in Grand Forks (where) we could buy 3D printing supplies.” And then I sat there, and then I realized, ‘I own a store. I can do it. So I thought a bit and did some research to find good reputable 3D printing vendors to find that North Dakota is full of 3D printing vendors, and we have a really good market for that here in Dakota North. So I settled with Fargo’s 3D Fuel and started the store just because I was bored one night and decided it was something Grand Forks needed and had to do.
Q: How does 3D printing work?
A: Thus, the most common and popular method of 3D printing is to use a piece of plastic filament that is passed through an extruder. So this extruder basically pushes it using gears in what’s called a hot end. This hot end heats the filament and pushes it through a very small nozzle, we’re talking like (a) 0.4 millimeter thick nozzle, and deposits the material onto a print bed or print surface a thin small layer at a time. And as he goes, he layers those layers on top of each other until you have a complete product.
Q: What are the practical uses of 3D printing?
A: Do fun things. One of my fun projects is turning my light switch into giant circuit breakers. So when we walk into my store in the morning and want to turn on the lights, we flip big circuit breakers. It’s always fun. But there are plenty of practical uses, like repairing. If you have something that parts are no longer made for. There’s a popular one floating around for IKEA, (who) created these cupboards that have brackets that hold the arms. Well, they stopped making these brackets, but these arm brackets break all the time, so someone created a 3D print file so they could print new brackets. So there’s a huge market for repair products and things like that. And then also the other big side right now is the cosplayers. They will use it to create their armor, helmets, body parts and weapons in ways they have never been able to do before.
Q: Do you think 3D printing is a growing industry?
A: I think it’s going to grow very fast, and it’s starting to grow faster every day. As we improve the development of 3D printers themselves and as 3D printers become more user-friendly, they will become more accessible to non-technical people. There are already great 3D printers out there that are mostly just set up and running, and you need very little technical knowledge and very little troubleshooting skills, and within minutes you can start printing your own projects you want.
Q: Do you see Forkin 3D expanding into its own building in the future?
A: Currently, (there is) no plan. It is a hope. We hope that one day it will take off well enough that we can move it to its own building or its own display cases. But at the moment there are no official plans for this.