In South Korea, the 3D printing industry has been moving forward through the work of a few passionate people…and Mr. Seong Jin Park, also known by his online name Lab C, is one of them.
Lab C has started giving free 3D printing workshops on the weekends to teach members of the general public about the technology. The workshop that I attended was the third one, and they are scheduled to take place every Saturday from 1pm until 5 or 6pm, depending on the activity of the group. These workshops are conducted free of charge and give people the chance to not only acquire basic knowledge about 3D printers and the fast growing industry around them, but also experience performing 3D printer set-ups, printing, and finishing work. Even though the workshops are free, Lab C and his staff were very generous providing the educational materials, and even coffee for free. They were also careful to prepare acetone for the ABS plastic finishing process and provide latex gloves.
The goal of the workshops are to expand the base of the 3D printing market in South Korea by giving people the chance to use the machines. The workshops are a collaboration of three parties. The location is provided by 3D Way; the instructor, Sang-Ho Lee, also widely known as Mand.ro was there to share his know-how and experience in the industry; and Lab C and his colleagues provide the 3D printers, supplies, and information.
Ryujin Lab Inc. was established by Lab C in 2007, but last year he got interested in 3D printers, and starting this past March, they now have the sole distribution dealership contract with Flashforge inside Korea, a Chinese 3D printer manufacturer – and one of the bestsellers on Amazon. They are also actively developing their own 3D printer. Ryujin Lab Inc. started out as an e-book developing company.
However, when 3D printing emerged the business took off in a different direction: “I view 3D printers not as a machine that destroys other industries, but as a tool that will combine with many different fields and create something new, something better and interesting,” Mr. Park told me.
As a start-up there were still many opportunities and uncertainties. “If we get our reputation and base in the industry, later when large corporations jump in, we can keep our advantage and competitive edge. We do not want to grow as a large corporation does. We want our company to keep exploring new fields and challenges. Our first challenge was e-book, and our next item is the 3D printer,” he added.
Lab C also said that since the industrial revolution, the modern world has been dominated by large corporations. While this has created great wealth and convenience, it has also given us a lot of discomfort. His main point being that we are all turned into nothing more than consumers. All the patterns of life get standardized and lots of energy gets wasted. Rush hour is one good example of the wasted energy caused by the standardization of life. People spending their vacation, for a limited period of time each year, only in the summer is another.
In this sense, Mr. Park thinks that there should be more small start-up companies and more economic diversity. The Maker Movement seems to be moving many of us in that direction. It’s hard to deny that there is a lot of hype around 3D printers in the media right now, but the industry is being moved forward, currently by largely passionate people, but looks set to spread much wider. Lab C wants to grow with this movement. In the future, Lab C hopes to see many such small and medium sized companies and help talented people stop wasting their ideas and talents at large corporations that don’t really appreciate the sacrifices of their employees.