The adoption of 3D printing by different industries is increasing and so does the number of developments in the industry itself. From industrial-grade 3D printers like the Series 1 Pro to multi-filament printing, players in the 3D printing industry continue to find better solutions to enable customers towards the 3D manufacturing era.
One company in this list is Mosaic Manufacturing, a Canada-based 3D printing technology company and a partner of Type A Machines. With their recent release of Palette+, Mosaic is bringing multi-material 3D printing to the market, opening new opportunities for mass customization and a wider range of applications for the technology. We recently had the chance to interview Mosaic Co-founder and COO Chris Labelle, where he shared with us their company’s journey to advancing multi-material printing, and their vision for the future.
How did Mosaic Manufacturing start? Can you tell us a little bit about the history of the company?
We were founded just over three years ago. One of our co-founders, Mitch Debora, used to run a 3D printing service company. People would always come to him and say, “I need this print to be in multiple colors," or "I need it to be in multiple materials. I'll pay you 10 times. I just need this done." He looked at the market and there was no good way to fulfill what he wanted to create for his customers.
I knew Mitch through some university activities and he approached myself and Derek, our other co-founder, pitched the problem, and we've been working on that ever since. There’s a couple different stages in the market and the first step we’re working on now is extending the range of objects people can create with 3D printers.
How is it like to be a startup company in Toronto, where the startup scene is also booming?
I love Canada. The people here are open and they're easy to get along with. It is also just getting up and coming, so you have a lot of people who are really working to build the ecosystems together, which kind of gives the city this whole camaraderie feel to it. So, if we meet another startup in Toronto, we automatically get along because we know what they go through, we know where they are working out of. We just find the community and the vibe here to be really good.
How do you measure success in your company?
From a company standpoint, what we usually do is we sit down and we layout like a year's worth of milestones. We'll set that time to zero, check in every quarter and see if we are above or behind where we wanted to be. Then we'll sort of adjust the coordinates. But the biggest thing for us is whether we are moving towards our goal of enabling that multi-material printing ecosystem as quickly as we possibly can.
What are your biggest learnings so far?
There are a couple of things. One is super stereotypical to hardware company - that hardware is really difficult. If you go through our Kickstarter updates, you'll notice that we did about a year or so of manufacturing work, development and testing, and we started going from making two units to two hundred units. That took a long time that we weren't necessarily expecting, but we did get through it.
The other thing is it just all comes down to people. At Mosaic, we're not an entity, we are a group of individuals who are working to create something together. Whoever we bring on to our team, they're the ones who are building the company. Bringing the right people in and giving them the right direction is super important. So it's really just figuring out those tactical challenges and putting the right people in the right place.
The Mosaic Manufacturing Team in their headquarter in Toronto, Canada.Photo courtesy of Mosaic.
Mosaic’s mission is to accelerate the adoption of Direct Digital Fabrication. How do you think will it affect the future and where is Mosaic today in this shift in the market?
We’re now working on the first stage and that's around multi-material 3D printing. But when we look at how we fit into Direct Digital Fabrication and digital manufacturing, I think that's when things get interesting. For instance, a big part of what we’re working on right now at Canvas, our multi-material slicer, is product customization.
The idea is that your glasses, your watch, your shoes or whatever it might be, should all be customized to you. Why are we making them in batches of ten thousand over in China when it can be made cheaper with a shorter supply chain and shorter lead time, let’s say in Canada or in San Francisco? For example, a designer would go in and he or she would make a template of glasses. I would then go in and take a few pictures of my face and upload it to the platform. It would then take the glasses and form it to my nose, my ears, and to the width of my face so that it fits me as an individual. But the idea is to then take that engine and license it to other companies who are working with glasses, shoes or clothing for digital fabrication.
We look at 3D printing as important because the software we're building for it allows us to make that jump into the digital fabrication space.
With Palette+, the biggest jump is multi-material 3D printing. The best thing about our approach is we don't mess with the infrastructure of the 3D printer itself. We know how difficult it is to build a printer that prints well so, one of the biggest things that our technology allows people to do is to really keep all the R&D work that they have done over the years and hack something on that doesn't change the system at all, and just feeds at a different input at the right time.
What’s your vision for Mosaic in the next few years?
The midterm thing for us is building the industry standard for multi-material printing. We don't ever want to make printers. That's not what we're good at. What we're good at is making our core technology and the workflow behind that technology. So, we look to partner with people to get our technology into their machines and bring it to a wider part of the market. We want to focus on going from being an add-on accessory to being integrated into the 3D printer and working with the right partners operating in the right space and who are good people to work with. It’s really just building that industry standard through integration.
To learn more about Mosaic Manufacturing, visit www.mosaicmanufacturing.com.