Stuart Mead (CEO) and Jamie
Interview Date: August 2013
This interview takes place during Fuel3D’s Kickstarter campaign,
the target was $75k, they smashed this with already over $250k
and still many days to go... Fuel3D is a handheld portable 3D
scanner which will be available at a consumer price point.
Stuart Mead (CEO)
Jamie Paterson (CTO)
Q: Hi Stuart,
Jamie, welcome to the 3DPrint3 interview, please give us a little
background on yourselves before you became involved with Fuel
3D (degree, previous roles, interests, etc)
A: (SM) Hi! I’m Stuart Mead, CEO
of Fuel3D. Previously I worked for a number of technology startups,
most recently at bionic technology developer, Touch Bionics.
A: (JP) And I’m Jamie Paterson, CTO of
Q: And how
did you both first become involved with 3D cameras and 3D scanning?
A: (JP) I got involved many years ago,
as I am one of the inventors of the core technology behind Fuel3D.
The genesis was a meeting in 2005 between myself and the other
co-inventor, professor Ron Daniel.
A: (SM) I started with the company in late 2012.
Q: How and
when did Fuel3D as a company come to be?
A: (SM) Fuel 3D was conceived in early
2013, and came into realisation in July 2013.
Q: Your main
product is the Fuel3D Scanner, can you tell us a little about
the product and who it is aimed at?
A: (JP) The Fuel3D is a high-resolution,
color 3D scanning device. We have managed to achieve a really
compelling combination of technologies with a really affordable
price point. We want to open up the 3D scanning space to the “pro-sumer”
and enthusiast market, while still having a system which is easy
to use by anyone, not just the techies!
why did you decide to create such a product?
A: (SM) Its clear to anyone following
technical news that 3D printing and associated 3D modelling techniques
are coming of age. Cost has come down by orders of magnitude,
and with a much wider and diverse user base there is an opportunity
for 3D scanning to provide data from the real world for use with
these techniques. The challenge of course is cost. Existing devices
can be many thousands of dollars, beyond the reach of the enthusiast.
We want to be the data capture device for the new pro-sumer level
market for 3D.
easy is Fuel3D to use, can you talk us through the user process?
A: (JP). It’s essentially point
and click! You do need a little understanding of the constraints
of the system (i.e. what can be imaged easily and what is more
challenging). Check our recent blog
post for a walkthrough of the image capture process.
Q: What are
the technical specifications of Fuel3D? (e.g. resolution, max
/ min size of scanned objects, file formats, etc)
A: (JP). Fuel3D is still being developed
and we are receiving feature requests and ideas from our Kickstarter
supporters on a daily basis. Rather than reiterating, I would
point interested parties to our Kickstarter
pages and blog
posts, which cover off many of these questions.
the science behind Fuel3D, how does it work?
A: (JP) We use a unique combination of
photometric imaging (capturing a shape from shading technique)
and geometric imaging (this uses two viewpoints a bit like the
human visual system). This gives us two sources of 3D data, which
we then fuse together to give us the best of both worlds. You
can check out another recent blog
post for more detail.
the Fuel3D hardware you also have some software, can you tell
us a little about it and what it enables users to do?
A: (JP) Fuel3D will ship with software
to run the system, acquire and process data, and basic editing
tools to crop, adjust resolution and export.
Q: Your price
point is at consumer level which opens up a whole new market for
this kind of technology, where are you seeing the most interest
from? Maker and 3D Print communities, designers, artists, engineers,
A: (SM) We have seen a really wide range
of interest, all the way from high-end research down to hobbyist
and enthusiast level. 3D imaging is a platform technology and
at the price point of Fuel3D we expect to see it opening up a
wide range of applications, many of which we haven’t even
thought of yet! If we had to pick one sector in particular, we
do see data generation for 3D printing as a particularly strong
application for Fuel3D.
Q: How does
your product differ from existing consumer 3D Scanners such as
those that utilise Microsoft Kinect and tablet apps such as 123D
A: (JP). There are a variety of systems
out there. We believe Fuel3D can provide superior 3D data and
is easier to use than Kinect-based systems. 123D catch is potentially
very powerful but having tried it out results can vary and it
is time consuming to use.
Why did you choose to go down the Kickstarter crowd funding route?
A: (SM) Kickstarter is a great platform
for raising awareness, quantifying levels of interest and reaching
potential customers. Obviously raising cash is useful as well!
What has been your experience of your crowdfunding campaign so
far? Did you expect to reach your target so soon and surpass it
several times over?
A: (SM) We have been delighted with the
response on Kickstarter, having already exceeded three times our
initial funding goal of $75k. We were convinced we had a strong
proposition and it is great to see that validated so convincingly!
Q: You recently
announced a special edition Joshua Harker* (of Crania Anatomica
Filigre Kickstarter campaign fame) custom cover that will be available
to Kickstarter backers, how and why did this addition come about?
A: (SM) Josh Harker very high profile
artist in this space, and of course the Fuel3D is a natural addition
to the 3D artist toolset. We had an initial conversation to show
him the technology and it really just came from that.
do you think affordable 3D Scanning technology will impact the
world, both for consumers, businesses and other areas?
A: (SM) Significantly!
A: (JP) 3D scanning has already changed professional
level applications, and with new lower-cost and easy to use systems
like Fuel3D, soon the hobbyist and pro-sumer markets will adopt
this as well. Let’s remix the world!
Q: How long
do you think before we see 3D Scanner hardware as standard on
mobile phones and tablet? (as opposed to software apps currently
A: (JP) There are technical issues that
need to be addressed but I think once standalone devices have
established themselves we will start to see integration with other
devices. Let’s just say we are interested in talking to
other parties about this!
Beyond this where and in what way do you see 3D Scanning technology
A: (JP) Ease of use and applicability
will improve (most 3D scanners are intended for a specific task,
rather than being general purpose). And, of course, price points
will be lowered to open up the field to everyone. Expect to see
more and more of these kinds of technologies out there.
next in store for Fuel3D, do you have any other exciting products
in the pipeline?
A: (SM) With the great feedback received
so far from Kickstarter we have a whole bunch of ideas and features
we are looking at. For now however we are concentrating on delivering
V1 of the product and are really excited about getting that out
into the world!
you Stuart, Jamie, we look forward to seeing the Fuel 3D product
on the 3D Printing scene and beyond soon.
A: (SM) Many thanks!
A: (JP) Our pleasure.
Fuel3D Contact Details: