3D Heights is a full-service 3D-scanning and printing store located in Upper Manhattan founded by military vet and Washington Heights native, Jerry Castanos. Launched 5 months ago, it has attracted entrepreneurs, hobbyists, inventors, and curious residents from all over the city, as well as students from nearby elementary schools, middle schools, high schools and universities (City College, Yeshiva, and Columbia) looking to learn more about 3D-printing and print models and proto-types.
3D Heights offers services from concept to creation. Customers can come in, look at and try out a number of 3D-printers that are available for purchase, inclusive of models by Afinia, Cube X, and even 2 NYC-based companies, Solidoodle and Makerbot. Customers can also come in with a concept and take it from idea to CAD design to 3D-printing a physical product using 3D Heights’ design and print services. 3D Heights also offers a free one hour class called “Application of 3D-printing”, as well as paid classes related to 3D design, 3D printing, and even 3D investing. In addition, there are professional and student membership plans that allow individuals and businesses to take advantage of the 3D-printing makerspace, its network, and get discounts on classes and printer use.
3D Heights’ founder, Mr. Castanos is a serial entrepreneur who developed a passion for 3D-printing (3DP) during his time in the Army working in logistics and defense contracting. He wanted to come home to Washington Heights and share his passion for 3DP with the community he grew up in. In addition to holding classes for adults, Mr. Castanos is deeply involved with STEM education and has gifted printers to nearby schools and even offers classes for kids. During my visit, he was hosting a middle school robotics club. Indeed, a rush of energetic kids and smiling moms came into the store towards the end of my interview with Mr. Castanos!
3D Heights has been quite popular with families. People have printed out customized gifts and ornaments at a starting price of $25, depending on size, design, and materials used. In particular, bobbleheads have been very popular, one family even came in and 3D-printed a bobblehead of each member of the family. Entrepreneurs have also taken to 3DP at 3D Heights because of the ability to print a proto-type, test, and put a physical product into the hands of potential investors. Doctors and educators have also embraced 3DP, as it allows them to print models that help explain structures and concepts to their respective audiences.
3D Heights is an example of a small business in NYC that represents the trend of new-shoring (in contrast to off-shoring), where products are manufactured locally. It also represents small business as a vehicle to provide education, opportunity, and a gathering place for people in the local community.
Photo Credit: CC by Charlene Ngamwajasat