Photo: Structur3D Printing co-founders Andrew Finkle (left) and Charles Mire demonstrate their extrusion mechanism that allows printing with various pastes, including silicone, wood filler, and even cake icing.


Andrew Finkle and Charles Mire of Structur3D Printing are packing for a field trip to the Mecca of making.

These two 3D printing entrepreneurs, part of Communitech HYPERDRIVE’s Cohort 4, are heading out to San Mateo, Calif. next week for Maker Faire Bay Area.  This annual event draws 120,000 visitors in the course of a weekend, and, Mire hopes, will also draw attention to his company’s 3D printer extruder that is set for an imminent crowdfunding pitch to launch production.

A typical 3D printer draws in and melts a rigid noodle of plastic to form the output. Mire and Finkle have designed and built a mechanism that allows printing of various pastes, including silicone, wood filler, and even cake icing. It is analogous to making shapes by squeezing toothpaste from a tube onto a tabletop, but in this application the tube positioning is computer-controlled and a much finer strand of paste can be deposited; less than half a millimetre wide in the photo above.

Targeting a $300 price point puts this rig within the budget of many makers looking to expand the capabilities of their existing printers, especially when cheaper material costs and availability are factored in. Finkle, holding up two tubes of common silicone, noted that the raw materials for printing in this manner are as close as the nearest hardware store and are dirt cheap.

Especially exciting are the new possibilities opened up through printing flexible materials. Mire and Finkle’s HYPERDRIVE workbench was thick with sample prints ranging from the fun of custom stamps to the more serious domain of custom orthotics.

When asked how HYPERDRIVE was supporting their mission, Mire said without hesitation: “The mentorship, the space and the connections.”

Structur3D Printing will be in good Canadian company in San Mateo as a number of other makers from Waterloo Region are making the trek out to what is billed as “The Greatest Show and Tell on Earth”. We will have more photos and a story for you on our hometown team from the Faire, which runs May 17-18.