Subscribe to Inc. magazine

Things We Love


Last year Karl Meyer, the founder of Gentle Giant Studios, a maker of toys and 3-D models for the film and television industry, got a call from Lucas Licensing Ltd. Could he quickly design a tiny model of Anakin Skywalker's Podracer, now that Star Wars: Episode I--The Phantom Menace was set to hit the screen? No problem, said Meyer.

He went to his Silicon Graphics workstation, inserted the CD-ROM of Star Wars animation data that Lucas Licensing had sent him, and, using Pro/Engineer (an industrial modeling program), created a digital model of the vehicle on his screen. Meyer then created an STL (building) file for the model and clicked on Print. After a few hours, a printer in Gentle Giant's offices spit out perfect miniature 3-D prototypes of the Podracer's two jet engines and cockpit.

Meyer's printer, the ThermoJet Solid Object Printer (from 3D Systems, in Valencia, Calif.; (888) 337-9786, $49,995 U.S. list), works much like a regular ink-jet printer, but instead of plain ink it uses a paraffin-based thermoplastic dispensed in layers to create solid objects.

Meyer claims that since he started using 3D Systems' printers more than two years ago, his 25-employee company, based in Burbank, Calif., has quadrupled its production capacity. "What we output is true to what was created on the computer," he says. "It's amazing!"

Register on today to get full access to:
All articles  |  Magazine archives | Livestream events | Comments

Or sign up using: