Traditionally, when one thinks of making art two categories immediately come to mind – the drawing, painting, illustrating category and the sculpting category. Before now, the act of drawing has been limited to the surface one is drawing on, but with CreoPop‘s 3D printing pen this is beginning to change. With inks of many colors and properties, including magnetic ink, this versatile product makes the air your canvas.
We interviewed Andreas Birnik, the CEO of CreoPop to learn more about the company responsible for producing the pen, as well as the pen itself and what the future holds for the world’s first commercially successful handheld 3D printing device.
In the Photo: ANDREAS BIRNIK
Tell us a little bit about yourself. What was your background before you founded CreoPop? Were you on the engineering side or the business side?
Andreas Birnik: I’m originally from Sweden but I have lived in 11 countries with the past 10 years spent in Singapore. I’ve always been on the business side and I’ve spent my entire professional career working with technology.
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What was the inspiration for combining 3D printing technology and freehand art?
A.B: If you think about it, not much has happened in the art world ever since we made cave paintings 50,000 years ago. The paintbrushes we have used for all those years have looked pretty much the same. So we thought it was time to change the game by introducing a 21st Century electronic paintbrush with different speeds, different modes of operation, and with a range of different materials as well as colors.
After developing the technology, what was CreoPop’s greatest challenge in getting off the ground?
A.B: The hardest challenge was finding a good contract manufacturer to work with an unknown brand that was only willing to commit to a very small order quantity. The large, reputable contract manufacturers all wanted minimum order quantities far beyond what we could afford from a working capital standpoint.
Photo Credit: CreoPop
Would you say that you’ve brought 3D printing to the home? Who is your main target demographic?
A.B: We have absolutely done that. CreoPop has made 3D printing easy, fun and affordable – all important driving factors behind the adoption of a product into the home. CreoPop appeals to four groups of customers. The first group is made up of 3D printing enthusiasts that are involved in the maker movement. The second group consists of consumers in the arts and craft market, where CreoPop is considered to be an electronic paintbrush. The third group comprises the consumers in the toy market, where CreoPop can be seen as next-generation LEGO or Playdoh – a 3D modeling tool for the 21st Century. The fourth group are the consumers in the education market, where art classes are the final destination for the product.
As great as it is that the CreoPop pen is essentially an affordable 3D printer, one could say that it’s outside a lot of consumers’ price ranges. Do you believe over time that it will become more affordable?
A.B: I honestly think that USD 129.99 is pretty affordable for 3D printing equipment. Our manufacturing cost is volume-dependent, so if volumes increase substantially we may be able to lower the price over time.
Photo Credit: CreoPop
Do you consider yourself a CreoPop artist?
A.B: I love playing with CreoPop. Especially together with my daughter as a family activity. I’m not sure how talented I am but I enjoy the creative process. I also love that my daughter, soon to be five years old, thinks her daddy has an awesome job, making a cool product that she can play with.
What are your future goals for CreoPop? What’s next for the technology?
A.B.: First of all we want to expand our distribution network to make CreoPop available to customers all around the world. We were very US centric during 2015, and 2016 is the year we seek to expand into international markets. Secondly, we keep developing a range of exciting 3D printing inks for CreoPop, to keep the product interesting. Our supporters love when we bring them new types of inks. Finally, our R&D team is continuing to explore improvements to CreoPop, looking into new accessories, as well as new types of equipment.