Interview with Eric Chan architect and 3D modeler, procrastinator.


I was at Hong Kong Mini Maker Faire and ran into someone from the Shapeways early days, Eric Chan. Eric was one of the first people to upload truly interesting things to Shapeways. As an architect he has an eye for design and beauty as well as the skill to make.

Eric Chan Architect & 3d printing designer

Eric Chan Architect & 3d printing designer

He used this to make his Whale in 2008 which was a favorite model of mine. It was on my desk for 3 years and I really loved it and used it as a card holder. So it was an super fun to run into him at Hong Kong Mini Maker Faire to catch up with him.

3D printed Whale made by Selective Laser Sintering, also called SLS and LS

3D printed Whale made by Selective Laser Sintering, also called SLS and LS

What inspires you to 3D print? 

Eric Chan: The ability to make an object out of what I model virtually. Some of my work comes from a need, say if I have a camera that does not have an accessory, then I design a specific accessory for it. Some of it is art, like the whale where I wanted to explore flexibility of the material.

As an architect do you explore things differently?

As an architect you learn to look at all different aspects of a design problem. In a way that is a restriction on what I can design. I have to make sure the requirements are met, that it works structurally, it looks good esthetically and that the needs of the client are met. With 3D printing I can reduce a design to one or two design problems. In a way its simpler and can be more fun. I have fewer limitations and can explore more. 

Why did you want to improve on the strandbeesd? 

I had a look at the add on, but I wanted something that catches wind from any direction and spins on the vertical axis. I wanted to challenge myself. I first created a version and all the gears and parts worked perfectly but the turbine part and the arrangement of the vanes caught a lot of its own wind. This wind resistance meant that it didn’t work. A user on instructables pointed this out to me so I redesigned it. I made an improved turbine with better vanes based on this feedback. Now it spins smoothly and I’m happy with the curved form instead of the more angled one. 

3D Printed quad copter frame made with Selective Laser Sintering

3D Printed quad copter frame made with Selective Laser Sintering

Why make a quadcopter?

I bought a quadcopter kit and needed a frame to protect the blades. My first design was very simple but the flexibility in SLS was too high. I redesigned the frame with more trusses and it was much stronger but too rigid. Then for the next version I reoriented the trusses and this gave me the right amount of flexibility and rigidity. The copter now seems to be much more stable.

3D printed GoPro desk mount

3D printed GoPro desk mount

And the GoPro Hero stand?

I needed a desktop stand for it while being able to plug the GoPro into the power supply. This is a very practical needs based design for me. It started off with me making a simple stand but it evolved to a swiveling joint and an adjustable hinge.

You can check out er1c’s blog or Shapeways shop here.