“I decided to make 3D printers because I wanted to have one.” Choi Jong-eon, a Senior in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Hanyang University (HYU) as well as the Chief Technology Officer of Opencreators, responded when asked why he started developing 3D printers. On March 2014, he won a prize for his 3D printer, “Almond”, in the Red Dot Design Awards, an international product design competition. The Almond qualified for the award by focusing not only on technical features but also on the artistic aspects which were the result of several designers.
Choi founded Opencreators in 2012 but did not originally plan to set up his own company. Before starting a 3D printer business, he conducted a workshop on the 3D printer business with his friend, Kang Min-hyuk, a Senior in the Department of Nano Engineering at Sejong Universtiy. “Holding the workshop on the 3D printer, we decided to apply for a patent and started our own business with government funding.” said Choi.
Choi and Kang strived to produce a unique technology that would print more conveniently than other 3D printers. They managed to achieve this through the automatic printing feature on the Almond gadget which was recognized and awarded with an international award, as previously mentioned.
However, Choi confessed that there were several difficulties in managing his own business as a university student. He said that the most difficult aspect about his business was that only a few people were interested in 3D printers. “Fortunately, because U.S. President Obama mentioned 3D printers last year, it attracted more attention from the public. Now, our company has started to receive business propositions from foreign investors.” said Choi.
In terms of Opencreator’s future, Choi plans to expand the size of the company, as well as improve product quality. Although 3D printers are still unfamiliar to the general public, Choi believes that this technology will be widely used in various places including schools, companies, and even households in the near future. “By reflecting on our customers’ needs, I will promote 3D printers by making them user friendly for all,” said Choi.