Last Update: Tuesday, 12 November, 2013 9:48 PM




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Interviewees: Stuart Mead (CEO) and Jamie Paterson (CTO)
Company: Fuel3D
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, Fuel3D
Stuart Mead (CEO)

Jamie Paterson, CTO, Fuel3D
Jamie Paterson (CTO)

Fuel3D Handheld Scanner

Fuel3D Scans

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 Fuel3D.

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!

Fuel3D Handheld Scanner Xray Diagram

Q: And 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.

Q: How 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.

How To Use Fuel3D Handheld Scanner

How To Use Fuel3D Handheld Scanner

How To Use Fuel3D Handheld Scanner How To Use Fuel3D Handheld Scanner

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.

Q: What’s 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.

Q: Accompanying 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, everyone?
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.

3D Printed Faces

Q: How does your product differ from existing consumer 3D Scanners such as those that utilise Microsoft Kinect and tablet apps such as 123D Catch?
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.

Q: 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!

Q: 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.

Fuel3D Handheld Scanner & Joshua Harker Special Edition Cover

Q: How 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 available)
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!

Q: Beyond this where and in what way do you see 3D Scanning technology evolving?
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.

3D Scanned Face

3D Scanned Faces

Q: What’s 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!

Q: Thank 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.


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