Tobias Wunner, Aleksander Ciszek, Stephan Kühr (v.l.) Foto: 3YOURMIND GmbH
Kaiser Wilhelm II took five years to complete the building that is home to the Federal Ministry of Economics today. Stephan Kühr can manage this in just ten hours. He simply prints it out – this time in pink. The needle of the 3D printer dashes back and forth and sprays the ground plan of the building onto the base: this first layer is only 0.1 millimetres thick. „This is only a small printer for presentation purposes,“ Stephan Kühr explains. „The real ones are as big as ten refrigerators.“
Around one and a half years ago, the economic physicist and Aleksander Ciszek (Financial and Accounting) and Tobias Wunner (IT) founded the „3YOURMIND“ start-up. Their business idea: 3D printing in the architecture, machine and plant engineering sectors.
It had previously struck Stephan Kühr that while the technology had developed rapidly in recent years, it was not being used nearly to the extent that its potential hinted at. He wanted to change this. After some home experimentation with a 3D printer, he had an idea where the difficulty lay. But after a few months at the Technical University of Berlin (TUB) he knew for certain: „The problem is the preparation of the data. Though architects and machine engineers design in 3D, you cannot simply send this data to the printer,“ says the company founder.
The architects simulate every door handle, every detail, in their CAD (Computer-Aided Design) programs. This is too much unnecessary information for a printed model. With machine engineering, on the other hand, one might want to emphasise a particularly important turbine screw in the 3D printout that would not be visible if everything was simply transferred on a one-to-one basis: „Our software simplifies and prepares the data that is already there,“ says Kühr, then specifying: „We have created a plug-in for CAD programs. We’re the 3D print button, so to speak.“
Kühr has not taken a holiday since 2012. But he does not look exhausted at all. „What really pushes us are the customers with their requests and their feedback. It’s the most honest thing you can get: when they buy the product and don’t complain, it tells you a lot.“ He is elated by the entrepreneurial spirit that suffuses the Centre for Entrepreneurship at the TUB. Not only is the expert advice inspiring – the exchanges with the other start-ups are also very helpful. The „3YOURMIND“ team is very happy in City West. It’s not far to the trade fair – and the airport is relatively close too. Although they plan to remain in the Centre for Entrepreneurship until March 2015, they are already putting out feelers: towards the USA.