4 December 2020

Lower sixth former Harry Watkins has been headhunted by a leading UK designer to join a team looking to design a 3D printer specifically for ceramics. The project aims to have a working prototype and associated exhibition in the UK and Europe by summer 2021.

Harry was approached after posting his profile on Fiverr, a jobsite for creatives offering their services. Harry set up his business on Fiverr during lockdown, as he explains.

“Right from the start of lockdown, I realised I would be inundated with free time once the school holidays started. That was, for me, both a challenge and an opportunity. Initially, I joined a group 3D printing PPE for the NHS. I had my printer running 24/7, so once it was no longer needed, I decided it was time it had some TLC.”

Harry built his first 3D Printer aged 13. Having carried out numerous modifications over the subsequent three years, he decided that it was now time for a comprehensive upgrade. The result was a fully custom 3D printer drawing on ideas and technology from fellow 3D printing enthusiasts.

Harry continues,

“I was left with a problem: I had a great machine, but no firmware to go with it. I learnt the necessary code mostly by watching YouTube videos; comparing different sets of firmware to figure out the differences; and using my very basic knowledge of Java, Python and Arduino to figure it out.”

Harry then set up a freelance business, engineering firmware for both commercial and consumer clients. Through this, he got the chance to work on a variety of design projects around the world and he began doing freelance work troubleshooting and advising on 3D printing. He rapidly developed an understanding of problems that were either distinct to particular models of 3D printer or common across the board. It was this, as well as the recent successful completion of his own custom-built printer, that persuaded him to start designing his own group of 3D printers to bring to market. Harry’s concept was to create two 3D printers, one large and one standard, that used the finest parts possible, were easy to assemble and upgrade, and were not overly expensive.

Harry says,
“I spent all summer designing the printers, as well as focussing on school work, and I have set a deadline to finish Sixth Form with two fully working prototypes to be brought to market the following year. I will then be delaying university by a year in order to finish the testing process, begin manufacturing and start selling!”

During the October half term, Harry was approached by the designer who asked if he would be interested in designing a brand new 3D printer specifically for ceramics. This type of printer had never been made before and, as Harry puts it, “I was instantly drawn to it, like the proverbial moth to the proverbial blowtorch.

“When I started all of this back in March, I had no idea that it would lead here. In retrospect, I am confident that it was my goal-setting and hard work, over those few months, that put me in the position where I was both visible to potential clients and able to accept the ceramic 3D printer job. I can’t wait to see where it goes.”


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