The story of Aha3D

The story of Aha3D

Hi there!

The story of Aha3D is a story of exploration of sorts. Exploration to discover how the fabric of reality gets woven, both literally and metaphorically!

(This is an informal blog post by Aakash, the Founder of Aha3D. If however you’re looking for the official “about the Company” page, please visit About Aha3D instead).

The then 3D printing scenario in India

When Aha3D came into existence, I’m talking about the year 2010, the word 3D printing had started appearing only in the pages of cutting-edge publications in the west. For India? Well. There were but a precious few people! I’ll like to mention the trailblazers. First,  Karan Chaphekar who is now running his company called kcbots. Man, was the dude ahead of his times! To the best of my knowledge, he is the first reprapper in India.

A writeup of how 3D printing scenario evolved in India will be incomplete without mention of Rohit Asil and Vijay Raghav Varda. These young engineering graduates were among the first people to evolve the technology and supply chain, with their company Fraktal Works and their low-cost Julia 3D printer. Raja Sekhar and Prudhvi Reddy of Think3D and Jyothish Kumar with AMSI also command a special mention, who created the Indian 3D printing ecosystem in their own ways since the early days.

Since then, there have been many, many (and then many, many) 3D printing startups, that came, and some who shut shop, but essentially, the guys mentioned above are the movers. The guys who did the hard work and worked through it all in the pre-3D printing days.

The story of Aha3D

And about Aha3D? Well, it began to fix a problem which I severely faced myself.

Well, you see, today, we have startup bootcamps and networking sessions, and company incubators in colleges, and Government policies, and what not, but when I graduated as an Engineer in 2002 from MNIT jaipur, startup was not there as a career option. Though, given the maker that I was during college days, I vividly remember the safely-employed life, (as I understood it then, I must add), to be distinctly boring, devoid of adrenaline fuelled by grand achievements and making neat gadgets!

However, as reality would have it, it was the norm of those days for highest performers in academics to get placed in the coveted companies, and “live happily ever after”. Which I did. Or I tried to, anyway, for a while. However, to keep the oxygen level up, I had an entire homebrew gadget-making lab, complete with PCB making equipment and electronics components and a DSO and everything that a reasonably hi-tech maker’s lab should have. So I’d be able to always bring the product from the idea to the first prototype.

But not quite! Because, in the words of the Great Bill Watterson, “Reality continued to ruin my life“! So, for my projects, I’d do coding and making the electronics and all, but in the end, when I wanted to make a neat little case, or a pair of gears and wheels, I’d be running in the bylanes of industrial areas, talking to machine shop owners on essentially these lines:

Me: Hi, I’m making this great gadget and need something to put it inside. Can you please make a small plastic box with size blah blah and here’s the drawing.

Machine shop guy: Not on this particular planet in this particular space-time slice with the kind of money, time and sanity you have at your disposal. (click to read actual conversation!)

Machine shop guy: Boy, you can’t have a plastic box without a mould for that. This one design looks particularly complicated. Others wont’ take this job up, but only to oblige you, I will make it for you for Rs. 60,000.

Me: (after going back and feeling lost for two days but wishing my gadget does come to life anyway and making up my mind): Ok, I’ll go for it. But will my work be done?

Machine shop guy: Yes, sure, but I will take a month to make your mould, because now I have this other great production order in hand that I’m totally interested in, and your insignificant single unit order doesn’t matter to me anyway, and I am saying one month but I will actually take much longer than this, and then the mould itself might not be what you wanted, for which you’ll have to pay for the entire process again. In the end, when all works out good, you will just get a mould, and you will need to get your box moulded out from the other guy down the line, who doesn’t take order below 1000 boxes, and on and on…

 

And when, imagine, when I first came across this post on Wired about 3D printing, and how it might just solve what I’ve been suffering through, how easy it was for me to dive in and give it my everything to make it happen!

And so the Journey started. The journey that is Aha3D!

As it happens, in the initial days I was coherent enough to keep a blog of what happened when, and man I’m thankful to heavens for this! So here, without building much further context, here’s pointing you to ahagadgets.wordpress.com, to see the whole journey!

Since then, you’ll be glad to know that, beyond the obvious progress in the products and the prints, Aha3D has grown strong as a company and continues to lead the innovation wave. We’ve been accepting increasingly bigger challenges!

Over these years, our machines have matured from acrylic framed, open frame hobby grade 3D printers like these:

prn2_small.png

to rock solid and reliable beasts like this one:


Which put out silky smooth prints you can see on our fb page (www.facebook.com/aha3d).

Simulaneously, we have matured from people who thought “value-for-money” means low-cost, to people who now think that “value for money” means fast RoI, and delivering what it takes to achieve the same for our users.

Somewhere along the way, we started being called Aha 3D Innovations from our initial name Aha Gadgets 🙂

Thanks for taking time out to visit us! To recap, you might like to read ahagadgets.wordpress.com as a study of an evolution of a startup! On a more official note, you might find the Case studies particularly interesting!

Gartner’s hype cycle for 3D printing

Gartner’s hype cycle for 3D printing

Hi there!

In this post we’ll share some interesting patterns which evolved in the 3D printing technologies as they happened over the last few years.

The most popular 3D printing technology

The biggest interesting observation is that FDM has established itself as the peoples’ 3D printing technology of choice. FDM based machines ahve made their way in peoples’ homes and offices for good.

Speaking of myself, as a person who witnessed this while being a part of it, this effectively means that when in 2012, when we used to receive all the reasons from customers why FDM isn’t good enough, and today when FDM is solving quite a good bit of users’ problems, it has made us understand how any technology evolves and gets established, how perceptions change, and how limitations don’t mean uselessness. It also showed us how the whole ecosystem comes together to establish or precipitate the adoption of a technology, with technology itself being only one part of the whole story.

In FDM’s case, it is definitely the materials ecosystem. It is the eagerness with which thousands of innovators jumped in to make filaments of all types and sorts, which are compatible with FDM. This simply tipped the balance solidly in favour of FDM, despite all its limitations on paper.

It is like one giant equation of nature with variables being players in the whole world, and the final solution can be anybody’s prediction.

And it is probably one of the first, of not THE first collective commercial success of humanity, when we worked together and took care of various tidbits of the larger picture, and ushered ourselves into 3D printing. This was definitely not the case with earlier revolutions e.g. of the transistor or the computer, when there was a small special group which did most of the load lifting.

Interestingly, the timing also matches with the start of the path for an Entrepreneurial India. This definitely is a great time to be living!

Gartner’s hype cycles for 3D printing

For your musing, here is an interesting something. Over the years that our 3D printers have existed (2012 to 2015), here are the three gartner‘s hype cycles:

In 2012:

See! Right on top! Maximum inflated expectations, maximum hype, and technology said to be ready in next 5 to 10 years.
Note that there is a single “3D printing” identified here! This is when the first of our printers was putting out parts, and making it in hands of their first users who loved to be on the bleeding edge like ourselves!
Here is how it looked In 2013:

Note that Consumer and enterprise 3D printing was identified clearly by now, and it was understood that while consumers still needed to go another 5-10 years, the enterprise 3D printing would be mainstream in 2 to 5 years.
Incidentally, this was by when we had realized the importance and requirements of serious 3D printers, pulled the plug on the Reality 3D printers (the hobby ones) and launched the ProtoCentre 999 in Oct 2013, India’s solution to serious 3D printing.
Here is the hype cycle for 2014:

The consumer 3D printing has shaved 1 or 2 years off from being real, but still some time to go. Enterprise 3D printing was on its way to be real and here.
Here at Aha3D, we were installing ProtoCentre 999 machines at distinguished places, and were literally travelling the slope that you see above! Including the hype, disillusionment, inflated expectations, facing and dispelling the same, and providing real industrial solutions and happy customers.

And finally, 2015:

2015 kept seeing ​3D printing plodding its way surely and steadily into peoples’ lives. We at Aha3D have been plodding away at proving more industrial applications of 3D printing. We’ll keep you posted on the same!
You may also like to read about Aha3D 3D printers, the ProtoCentre 999 and the Aha Star, which are trailblazing in their own segments!