Duncan Monroe, who has a background in design engineering, co-founded The 3D Shop Uptown with his partner, who lives in Colorado, who has a background in aerospace engineering.
“I started out just doing 3D printing as a hobby and started with these landscapes here. I put them on my Snapchat story and some friends of mine said, ‘Hey, that’s really cool. Can I pay you to make, you know, my fiancé and I’s first ever hike?'” he said.
He then started taking the landscapes to craft markets and selling them. Soon enough, people began approaching him and requesting other creations.
While Monroe never intended for his hobby to grow so large, it began to morph into more than a hobby.
“One printer turned to two, two turned to three, and now we’re here at 18, and obviously that would take over our house pretty quickly,” he said “So my wife said we should open up a place because we’re starting to not just work with other craft vendors, but we started working with businesses and those orders were in the hundreds of units of production.”
Instead of simply finding a place to house his printers and materials, Monroe decided to do more and offer more to residents.
“I thought, ‘If we’re going to be doing it and making a location here, instead of just setting up a print from somewhere remote, let’s put it somewhere where we can have a retail space.’ People can come in and see what we were able to accomplish with 3D printing,” he said.
However, the offerings of 3D Shop Uptown go beyond retail.
“We’re going to be teaching classes on how to do CAD design, or Computer-Aided Design 3D modeling; how to do 3D printing, the different materials, science of everything,” Monroe said.
His goal is to teach others about the possibilities of 3D printing, and let them see that anyone can do it.
“I want to educate people on 3D printing as a technology. It’s grown so fast that there’s a lot of people who don’t know what 3D printing is, a lot of people don’t know how it works, and even less people know the possibilities and how accessible the technology is today,” he said.
The shop has already began to exceed Monroe’s expectations. “The first guy to walk in today was actually someone who wanted us to help fix his printer, which is not something I thought would happen that quickly,” he said.
Monroe said he believed the shop would have to establish itself first, and then start getting printers into the community before it could expand its services. He was heartened to see that some people have already been introduced to the concept.
“I thought that would be once we were an established business and people know what 3D printing is, but it’s encouraging to see that some people already have printers out here and need help,” he said.
Monroe hopes the shop can help people of all experience levels learn about and embrace everything 3D printing can do and be.
“I want to have it be a 3D printing hub where anyone from complete ‘I know nothing about 3D printing’ to ‘I have my own 3D printing business, can you help me either with production, can you help me with fixing my fleet and printers?’ and just really be a resource to the community that way,” he said.
The 3D Shop is located at 20 Walnut Street, Martinsville. It is open on Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and weekdays by appointment.