Rokit’s Next Stage for 3D Printing Involves SLA, Developed Countries, & the Youniverse

One of the big advantages of being an educator and writer in the 3D community is that it provides so many opportunities to meet, engage with, influence, and be influenced by so many different people. This past month, I had the opportunity to introduce three of my best students to the world of 3D printing by allowing them to meet and interview Mr. You SeokHwan, the founder and CEO of Rokit, one of the first 3D printer manufacturers in Korea. Mr. You, who is based in Seoul, was visiting Busan on a related business trip and stopped by the 3D Printing Economic Research Center for a visit.

The 3DPERC was established by, and is associated with, the Department of International Trade & Economics at Korea Maritime & Ocean University. Its purpose is to study, and when possible, predict the changes in additive manufacturing and the impacts that the technology will have on the Korean economy. The students who have written the article that follows are all undergraduate students pursuing various degrees, united by their interest in writing… and 3D printing. –Mark Lee

You SeokHwan, CEO of Rokit, visited Korea Maritime and Ocean University in Busan recently to discuss some of his company’s new projects with interested students. Rokit is one of the major 3D printing companies in Korea and its name is an acronym meaning “Republic of Korea Intelligent Technologies.” Mr. You visited our school specifically to meet and talk with students who study, or have a great enthusiasm for 3D, printing.

One of us asked Mr. You about what the goal and policies of Rokit are. According to him, one of the major policies is utilizing the talents of young people in Korea to contribute to, and to help push, Korean business and economic growth. Though he is the CEO of a busy company, his style of talking seemed more like a friendly neighbor.

“Many young people in Korea are having a difficult time finding a job. It is really sad, and needs to be remedied. I want to give them a chance to demonstrate their abilities, to survive, and to compete in society,” Mr. You said. Mr. You went on to say that outsourcing is becoming a survival tactic for many Korean companies today, but that he thinks they should focus more on R&D to create value-added products and new jobs domestically.

youniverse 3D printing community from rockit

Providing an education and job opportunities to the younger generations is beginning of the Rokit plan. Mr. You told us that he wants to create a new 3D community platform he called the “Youniverse.” He wants to see this become a 3D ecosystem for the younger generations. This platform will consist of a base 3D content community, and a 3D service center. Mr. You said that, in the “Youniverse,” you will be the center of the universe and that he hopes people will make it personal. He does not imagine it to be a mass market thing, even though it would be tied to the IoT (Internet of Things), online printing, and mobile apps.

youniverse 3D printing community from rockit phone cases

The 3D contents of the Youniverse would be managed by volunteer students whose majors involve design, and, of course, they would be paid for their efforts, as well as gaining valuable experience. Members of the community, and contest participants, would make simple 3D designs which would be shared for free, but elaborate designs could be categorized as “premium” and the designers would be able to earn a small fee whenever their designs are downloaded. Mr.You’s dream of helping students to gain job opportunities is a great one, and is certainly needed in Korea.

The other goal he told us about was helping children in developing countries. He wants to give free education to children in developing countries where their income is less than $4,000USD annually through an international 3D printing education association. Exactly how the association is to work was a little hard to understand, but he spoke about a non- financial NGO which would operate by authorizing an international license that can be applied all over the world. He said he is currently gathering massive amounts of information and broadening the infrastructure he will need later.

Furthermore, he wants the Youniverse 3D project to play an important role in the project, growing organically so that design major students can practice what they’ve learned and children in developing countries are able to learn from these young professionals.

In this case, Rokit is trying to kill two birds with one stone. Volunteers can share their ideas and talents, and children in developing countries can become knowledgeable about, not only 3D printing, but also language, designs, and foreign culture, since many haven’t had any chance to communicate with people from foreign countries. Going forward, this teaching program could help make it possible for these children to create real dreams for their futures. Recognizing that most people live on so little money a year, he thinks that, if the appropriate technology meets the needs of the developing world, the quality of life for everyone would improve.

While it all sounded very good to us, it also seemed a little bit unrealistic since networks between Korea and developing countries have not really been set up yet. It would be hard to communicate with one another, because of both language and technology. Secondly, when he spoke about the simple and premium 3D designs on Youniverse, he didn’t talk about the problem of piracy, which will surely happen. No one can stop the copying of designs, at least not yet. In addition, there are millions of free 3D designs on the Internet and people may just print those. However, to be fair, what he spoke about is just a first step in this plan. We guess he needs to gather some good volunteers who are interested in this field first and build an infrastructure with those countries that he wants to help.

Lastly, he told us that Rokit is bringing out a new SLA printer soon. He said that, at the next Inside 3D Printing show, which is scheduled for June 24-26 at the Kintex Exhibition Center in Seoul, we should all be able to see it. According to what he told us, it will be the most accurate SLA in the world and will print at a resolution of just 20 microns. He also said it will be much faster than most current machines and use a new water-based UV resin. Professor Lee asked him about the ultra-fast Carbon 3D machine, and Mr. You said that, while his machine is also a continuous production machine, it uses a different system than the Carbon 3D. He said it will use a new type of lens to keep the laser focused over a wider range of area, and that it will have a “dual-focus” capability – narrow for surface details and broad for infill areas. It will be interesting to see it this summer.