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13.04.2017

Don’t go in expecting coffee - but you can print your own coffee cup. This Saturday, take yourself and your budding design idea to this new space in Vile Parle West, where helpful staff and an array of cool tech will help you model and print it in 3D. For realsies!

“We’ve had this technology since 1987, but very few people can access it, or understand how it’s done,” explains Atit Kothari of 3D printing company Imaginarium, which launched in Mumbai in 2009 and works with product designers across a dozen industries. “The complexity of this process doesn’t have to come at a premium.” 

Time To 3D, Imaginarium’s venture in partnership with media group Time Network, is meant for makers, designers and doodlers to see their work in the (polymerised) flesh -- whether as proof of concept, prototype, or just a special thing you always wanted to make for yourself, but couldn’t take to traditional manufacturers who work at scale. “It could be a ring, a teacup, something no one’s thought of before,” Atit says. “And you could be a student, a housewife, anybody.”

If you don’t know your CAD from a cat and think USB casing is a keychain, you’ll find friends at Time To 3D.

Fake Plastic Three-Ds

Imaginarium, which says it’s India’s biggest 3D printing company, is super-corporate: clients include Larsen & Toubro and Mahindra & Mahindra; even their jewellery work tends to be with TBZ, rather than kids with bright ideas. But the café isn’t meant for big firms or power users. “We're hoping to democratise manufacturing,” says Atit, a statement that will make everyone losing sleep over India’s looming jobs crisis very happy. “Think of the café as a space where making products comes with a softer touch, even to someone who’s just doodled an idea over lunch and wants to see if it works.” 

If you don’t know your CAD from a cat and think USB casing is a keychain, you’ll find friends at Time To 3D. Starting next week, the café will hold daily workshops on various aspects of 3D printing, with technicians and staff available to hand-hold first-timers through the process. For more complex work, they’ll even connect you to the professionals at Imaginarium, where 20 industrial printers lie in wait to bring every conceivable design idea to life, possibly even the rough beast, its hour come at last, slouching towards Bethlehem.

Atit won’t tell us what it’ll cost to print that coffee cup, but assures us that everyone, even the college kids next door, will find it “shockingly” affordable. “You know how every college has a corner xerox shop?” he says. “That’s what we want to be for prototyping.” 

Getting there: Time To 3D, 14, Seva Sadan, DJ Road, Vile Parle West, opens Saturday April 15.

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