Frisco at forefront of rise in 3-D printing technology

Frisco at forefront of rise  in 3-D printing technology

Although the concept of 3-D printing began in the 1980s, only recently has the technology and its potential applications come to the public's attention.

Today in Frisco that trend is becoming increasingly visible and useful on educational, business, entrepreneurial, retail and commercial levels.

Three-dimensional printing, or additive manufacturing, is the process of being able to use a 3-D computer design to create a 3-D object by building it layer by layer. Three-dimensional printing is now used to print everything from trinkets to airplane pieces.

"It's an awesome industry," said Jordan Williams, who, with his father, Doug Williams, owns Captured Dimensions, a Frisco company dedicated to 3-D scanning and printing. "3-D printing has come a long way in a few years and there is a long way for it to go. It's a whole new way of thinking about creating stuff, so it's neat to see the changes."

From the Williams, who recently opened a retail 3-D image studio, PhotoSculpt, to patrons of the Frisco Public Library, to Frisco ISD students and local small-business owners, 3-D technology is being utilized and explored in Frisco and is inspiring and educating residents in other cities as well.

Retail and commercial uses

Although many online stores exist that will print 3-D objects from a customer's design, 3-D printing is in the infancy stages of providing services on a personal level.

The Williams are taking the 3-D realm to a new level not just in Frisco but in the U.S.

The two started Captured Dimensions about two years ago and recently moved the business to Frisco's North Texas Enterprise Center.

Using a specially designed 3-D scanning method, the team is able to capture objects or people for use in both digital media and 3-D printing. Some of their main clients are video game and film companies.
"It's an awesome industry. 3-D printing has come a long way in a few years and there is a long way for it to go. It's a whole new way of thinking about creating stuff, so it's neat to see the changes."

—Jordan Williams, co-owner of Captured Dimensions

They started a spinoff, retail storefront PhotoSculpt, in January. PhotoSculpt shrinks Captured Dimensions' largely commercial 3-D scanning and printing business to a more retail-friendly level, Jordan Williams said.

The custom studio features a round curtained room with more than 80 digital cameras strategically placed in a full circle to photograph a subject from every angle. The digital representations can then be transformed into a 3-D model and preserved digitally and/or 3-D printed.

With a special 3-D printer using a gypsum/sandstone material, the company is able to print full-color, detailed sculptures of people or pets.

"I think we were the first company in North America to do 3-D scanning and printing of people," Jordan Williams said.

The Williams concentrate on the technology that creates the 3-D model.

"Our focus is not so much the 3-D printing itself—that is just the tool to get the end product," Doug Williams said. "Once the models are there, it's easier to print them, but somebody's got to put them in there in the first place. That's Captured [Dimensions'] role—the content-manipulation side."

Jordan Williams uses the example of his 2-year-old daughter, whom he said he has scanned once every few months since she was born, to explain what he sees for PhotoSculpt's future.

"We want to be able to capture people in the things that are temporal and transient, which is everything," he said. "You are never going to get this opportunity again to capture your kids at this stage again or your parents at their age or your pet while it's still around."

Small business applications

The Frisco UPS Store location on the southwest corner of Eldorado Parkway and Custer Road in September 2013 was chosen as one of six UPS stores in the country to test having 3-D printers for retail use because of its high customer volume.

"It started off slow, like anything, but as we've gotten more and more going we are printing customers' stuff almost every day," store owner Rick Hildebrande said. "It's fun technology. When we first got it we were like 'Well, who are our customers?' But every day we have people coming in with things. Our customers are very creative."

Using a printer that utilizes ABS plastic—the same material from which Legos are made—the store has printed items for its customers including a bracket for an expensive bookcase, a pair of doll glasses for a collector, and even a prototype for an underground tornado shelter, Hildebrande said.

"People are really creative," he said. "Especially small-[business owners]—we are always looking for a way to save nickels. That's what we deal a lot with."

Educational uses

A group of seventh-graders from Pioneer Heritage Middle School is learning about how 3-D printers can change a person's life.

The 3D Scienteers formed to compete in the Lexus Eco Challenge, a national Science, technology, engineering and mathcontest focusing on solutions to environmental issues.

Students Arjun Nair, Jackson Young, Jaden Mendez, Rishab Krishnan and Sam Kulkarni, led by sixth-grade teacher Taylor Davis, set out to show how using 3-D printers can reduce the carbon footprint by 3-D printing generally manufactured items.

The 3D Scienteers set up a website,, where they made available free 3-D model downloads, 3-D printing research and added a feature that will allow people to find a local 3-D printer.

Another portion of the project is dedicated to teaching people how an affordable, working prosthetic hand can be printed on a 3-D printer without any formal medical or engineering training. The Frisco ISD students printed and, with help from University of Texas Southwest Medical Center students, assembled the hand. The end result of the project is a YouTube video detailing instructions for anyone to be able to 3-D print and assemble a prosthetic hand.

"Seeing what [the 3D Scienteers] are doing now is something that I could have never contemplated as a sixth-grader," Davis said. "These kids are seeing it at 11 and 12 years old."

The students have already won a regional Lexus Eco Challenge contest, earning the students $10,000 in grants and scholarships, and they are now competing nationally for an additional $30,000.

If won, the grant money could be used to fund more 3-D innovation at the school.

"For science and math and art, the applications are endless," PHMS Principal Rocky Agan said. "We are looking at how we can benefit not just our students but the community with it."

Uses for entrepreneurs

The Frisco Public Library has had a 3-D printer since June, and library staff said it has been a bigger success than they expected.

"As soon as a new technology comes online, libraries are very good at becoming that interface for that new technology for the masses," Assistant Director of Public Services Mayra Diaz said. "Libraries have been doing that for a long time."

Adult Services Manager Thomas Finley said the 3-D printing technology is perfectly in line with the library's mission.

"We are the educational arm of the city and [the Frisco Public Library] and libraries in general are taking ownership of the fact that we are educators in the community," Finley said.

Finley said the largest demographic of people using the library's 3-D printer are adult entrepreneurs creating prototypes.

Objects printed in the library have included custom cookie cutters, a prototype for a new bike seat and a car accessory.

"That is the magic of 3-D printing—it's not what you can mass-produce. It's the thing that is customized and specific, something new," Adult Services Librarian Adam Lamprecht said.

The library staff is trained to use the software and the printer and walk patrons through the process.

The library has a quick-start guide that talks about the costs, size of a printable object and free software or publications that can help a user learn how to design a 3-D object. However, Finley recommends beginners take one of the library's free 3-D design classes to learn the basics.
By Krista Wadsworth

Krista Wadsworth is the managing editor for Community Impact Newspaper’s DFW editions. After serving as a reporter and then managing editor for a daily newspaper in Northeast Texas, she moved to the DFW area and joined CI as an editor for the Frisco edition, which she helped to launch. Krista was named the DFW managing editor in 2015 and oversees the editorial content for the Frisco, Plano, McKinney, Grapevine|Colleyville|Southlake and Lewisville|Flower Mound|Highland Village editions.


The American Red Cross is urging people to continue donating blood to avoid any shortages during the COVID-19 outbreak. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
American Red Cross avoids near-shortage of blood donations, urges donors to keep scheduling appointments

When concerns about the COVID-19 outbreak started to rise to new levels in the nation in March, thousands of blood donors canceled appointments with the American Red Cross.

The Grapevine-Colleyville ISD Health Department has been busy assisting the district with health initiatives, such as delivering meals. (Courtesy Amy Taldo)
ROUNDUP: 5 recent stories on the DFW area’s continued coronavirus response

Read the latest coronavirus updates from communities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area below.

Walmart's Frisco locations are currently closing at 8:30 p.m. daily to allow overnight cleanings. (Courtesy Walmart)
Local Walmart stores add more safety measures for employees, customers

The company is planning to give its workers the opportunity to wear masks and gloves while on the job.

President Donald Trump signed a $2 trillion package March 27 to provide relief during the coronavirus pandemic. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Sen. John Cornyn discusses provisions laid out in CARES Act

The $2 trillion package provides funding to help fight the virus and to provide financial assistance for Americans during the pandemic.

Members of the Frisco Downtown Merchants Association have created a daily digital support meeting during the coronavirus pandemic. The group's members are working together to help one another stay in business. (Courtesy Ed Mahoney)
Coronavirus coverage roundup in the Dallas-Fort Worth area

Here are some noteworthy stories from the past week dealing with the impact of the coronavirus.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance rates are increasing across the nation in the midst of COVID-19. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Texas sees 77% increase in unemployment insurance claims during week ending March 28

Texas ranked fifth among states in the U.S. with 275,597 initial claims filed the week ending March 28.

Collin, Denton, Dallas and Tarrant counties have a higher response rate than the state of Texas as of Mach 31. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Census responses ahead of U.S. in Dallas-Fort Worth, growth highest in nation

Dallas-Fort Worth counties vary in self-response rates on the U.S. census as Census Day arrives April 1.

A Texas Health Frisco medical professional said the risk of coronavirus to pregnant women does not appear to be as significant as swine flu, SARS or MERS. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
‘Be prepared to be flexible’: Frisco OB-GYN urges expectant mothers to check in with hospitals amid COVID-19

Texas Health Frisco OBGYN says local hospitals are constantly getting new rules from the federal government and state.

Frisco Public Library offering digital, online resources while physically closed

Library Director Shelley Holley said the city facility is offering regular story times and other programs through its social media pages and has already boosted its e-book and e-audiobook offerings.

Texas Tribune: Some local elections in Texas moving ahead despite coronavirus spread

A handful of towns and special districts still plan to go ahead with their May 2 votes, arranging polling places despite calls from the president on down directing people to stay at home to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.

The board convened via video conference April 1. (Courtesy Frisco ISD)
Frisco ISD board approves adding superintendent authority during COVID-19, offers updates

FISD officials offered updates on instruction, campus operations and seniors' graduation.

Lake Travis Fire Rescue is one of hundreds of emergency service districts serving millions of Texas residents across the state. Firefighters, EMTs and medical professionals said they are concerned about the availability of personal protective equipment as the coronavirus public health crisis continues. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)
First responders, medical professionals across Texas worry about inadequate personal protective equipment supplies

In a survey of emergency service districts across the state, two-thirds of respondents said they were concerned about a shortage of equipment such as masks, goggles and gloves.