Today’s episode features Ben Eadie. Listen as we discuss how Ben’s 3D career has taken him from human powered transport world records to blowing up the starship Enterprise.
You will be able to learn Onshape from Ben soon, join the Facebook group over at LearnOnshape.
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INTERVIEWER: Hello again and Welcome to the 3D printer talk show I’m your host Chris Garrett and I’m here today with Ben Eadie. Ben Eadie is a special effect and 3D Guru from Calgary, I’m sure he’ll be in Paris for me to say that, and got him here today to talk about all of those things special effects, props building, math science and Guinness World Records. So how are you doing Ben? How are you doing today?
BEN: I am doing good, how are yourself, Chris?
CHRIS: I’m doing good, I’m fully caffeinated, so hopefully I do not yawn during this of um… got my Tim Horton’s coffee for the Canadians listening and I’m looking forward to talking to you. Now just a bit of background, Ben was the first person I ever met who had a 3D printer and that was back a few years ago, he was also one of the first people I met when we moved to Canada so simultaneously I got to know Ben and his family but also got to know 3D printing through Ben which is awesome so Ben tell… tell us about that 3D printer because it was a bit weird right?
BEN: Yeah I got…. I was looking at doing 3D printing years and years ago and obviously it was really expensive ,now I was doing CAD or have been doing CAD since like the late ninety’s, so its..um you know I saw 3D printers and they said early two thousand and always interested in started seeing the development of home -made printers and all of them seemed like you know kind of odd and complex and I don’t know ….but eventually came along this mini cost also, so it’s an adult style and I just I was completely immemorable with it. I watch a couple videos in it, just it’s got this sexy movement (laughter) so I had to have one.
I joined the local Maker Space, Probe space in town and then found out that… They had a 3D printer, so I made the parts that I needed and built it myself and cursed and swore and wanted to like punch holes in the wall…(laughter) but eventually it got working again and I still have it till this day and it just pisses little workhorse this keeps on going ..it makes just great prints.
CHRIS: But you had that the 3D printer before that… that you are given, like actually, didn’t you have to when you had to cannibalize them to keep them working?
BEN: Oh yeah ..OK so (laughter) I forget about that, years before that there was a company called Solitude and what they did is, they made this basically it was a cello …cellophane sheet and it would kind of not line and apply glue to the inside of this… this cut and then lay no real layer down and keep going and you’d end up having to sort of plastic block that you have to break the …the actual 3D printer out. Oh ,so long Story Short, well maybe not short but I was running a few websites teaching Solid Works at this point in time and there was ….the company itself, the social media director I’d met at a conference and he said well you know can we get you a demo unit and you know any self-respecting person will say “hell yeah” So ….
CHRIS: And they weren’t cheap right? they were like serious industrial things.
BEN: Yeah, they were between ten to fifteen thousand dollars a piece. So they shipped me one, but it got… it got smashed in transit and I was sitting there and you know kind of disappointed and told them about it and so they …they you know obviously started sending me another one right away and to be insurance claimed. In the meantime, I’m looking at this thing going you know… it is broken that bad and I managed to get it kind of….to hobble along and just do the basics but just the basics was enough to rip… to print off the broken pieces like there was a foot that was all smashed up and …and there were a couple other plastic pieces that were all smashed up, so I took them off measure them redid the CAD on them and then I just printed them off and… I had it up and working I think it was like a week before the …the other unit came to fix so ,you know I mean they ended up using me as a bit of a case study going “hey look you know you can smash a machine but you can repair it with itself”.(laughter)
CHRIS: Yeah…It’s self -replicating machine it said…. there will be like big rolls of plastic.
BEN: Yeah yeah
CHRIS: So strange …
BEN: Yeah It is… there are rolls of plastic you know, it’s strange but it’s ..it kind of makes sense to me so it’s no longer at that point I don’t think it’s considered additive manufacturing, because you know it’s sort of like machining ,you essentially got like the raw material end up making a block and then you kind of break apart from the inside of it and all the other ways plastic is really not reusable but if I recall it was like a P.V.C. So, you could just you know, obviously recycle it and that wasn’t a problem but I think they still exist today… it’s an interesting concept but I don’t think the business is done very well and I think they’re sort of in limbo.
CHRIS: But the output was really nice, remember you made me like an iPad stand and the phone holder and there was a light production room such a quality they were…
CHRIS: Homemade looking …..
BEN: No… and you know the one thing that I really liked about it is, you could do these things called Life hinges so ,you could print off like say …just you place a hinge that would be on the same plane as each layer and what you’d end up doing is just um…. when you broke it oh, you’d have like say one or two layers that were bonded and then and there’d be a gap, and in that gap you’d be able to fold thinks, so you could make like fold up boxes and all sorts of things so think of I don’t know plastic or a gummy and in that sense it was …it was just awesome and like F.D.M and yeah…. you can do it with some stuff but nothing.. nothing to a level that had and you’re right, the quality it had was…. was pretty outstanding. I would say it was in between F.D.M. and the S.O.A style so it wasn’t quite as refined as S.O.A but it was definitely better than the F.D.M
CHRIS: Yeah … it reminded me of a vinyl cutter but instead of just doing one…. two-dimensional layer it was like two layers and layers and layers just amazing machine.
BEN: Yeah that’s a perfect analogy there, are you know… a vinyl cutter except it just doesn’t layers and layers and stocks them for you, so you don’t have to agree with the other.
CHRIS: So that was like two thousand and ten-ish and then you took me to my first Maker Faire where we saw robots and I actually know some blinking lights and then we went to a 3D printing room and I was like.. ‘’I have to have one of these..” and …
BEN: I remember you looking at me and going ‘this is bad …this is very very bad, Claire is going to kill you!(Laughter)
CHRIS: Well, yeah and…I was just proven right.(Laughter) It was very bad and Expensive. But that was like… I had no experience of the 3D well you would come from the solid wildest world and you’re kind of like less impressed. I think you are really more keen on the Lasik at that point
BEN: Yeah yeah …I was too (Laughter)
CHRIS: But of course you know I have blown away and you know obviously the rest is history. That different perspective I think it’s been really cool to like have an idea into the industrial world through you because of you… you have made real 3Dthings tangible things as a career you know you what….You work now on movies and there are some that we can talk about, some that we can’t talk about and T.V. shows and like…you blow things up, and make 3D things, but
BEN: I’ve got the coolest job (Laughter) I really do ….I try to be an ass but its okay…
CHRIS: So that’s only two words so if you do consult motorcycle companies and stuff
BEN: Oh yeah….
CHRIS: Tell us this is one of the other cool things that you did, you’ve got Guinness record for stuff that you’ve built right?
BEN: Yeah … a few years before I met you, I was into recumbent bikes, I bounce around a lot, I don’t know, I don’t sleep much or what but …I was into recumbent bikes and I was looking at a few forms, and there was this guy that said you know I’m going to break a world record stuff and I was looking at his and his designs and like they were …they were good they were very amateurish, you know he was missing some of the industrial design or mechanical design concepts ,missing some of the rudimentary stuff. And I was reading and then eventually he mentioned a few things that were landmarks in Calgary and I wonder, so I e-mail him, I already email him, I contacted him through the form, and said ‘hey are you in Calgary? And the next day we’re having coffee together and he was talking about what he wanted to do and I said, ‘’you know you all things considered’’, I go ‘’I love your projects but like you know you’re your bit of an amateur in the design side, you would you want some help with that? And he was just like ‘’oh my God, yes!
So we sort of partnered up, he’s the… the O.C.D. type I’m obviously E.D.D, so we made a great team and we started designing bikes and he’d run me a few…. for a few ideas past me and back and forth and eventually we got this …this bike with a fairing on it. And he’s a very complex athlete, you know he’s Iron Man Kona athlete and he’s done ultra marathons and the whole bit. So, he did a bunch of training, and our first attempt was a failure we….we ended up having the bike crash because of a change of mind and all things, it’s a mind and inner thing but it’s amazing what happens. And so the following year we fix that one small mechanical issue and we did thousand and forty-six kilometers in twenty-four hours I think that’s around six hundred fifty miles, just one guy pedaling a bike. And from that… Like when we did that there was also a secondary record sort of underneath that where was the fastest person to ever reach a thousand kilometers under his own power, so we ended up with two records there.
And then he started thinking ‘’Oh I want to do sea land and air ‘’so you know….we are still talking about air but we’ve accomplished the seaside and what he ended up … what we ended up doing was we took a kayak and we designed it with a paddle mechanism on it and a prop and he did a thousand, not a thousand, what am I saying? Say hundred seventy four miles I think two hundred and forty kilometers in 24 hours on a boat, obviously sea water’s much harder to move through.
So yeah, we did that, unfortunately for him or not , I’m halfway through the record, I realize some major errors that we had made in calculations and stuff and that we could do much, much better so the following year we rebuilt the boat …..rebuilt a boat and we ended up breaking that record, Sorry , we started out…. we broke the record, a hundred and seventy-four kilometers and the second record we did two hundred and forty-nine, forty-six somewhere and now I can’t remember the exact number, so that was …that was where those two numbers came from. And actually this summer, in fact probably in a couple weeks he’s going to be trying to break his own record again down in L.A. somewhere in a… in a lake with a boat but I haven’t had anything to do with that one, I’ve been kind of busy on other tangents. (laughter)
CHRIS: Yeah ..so that’s a good segue into what you’ve been to recently can you tell us a bit about what you’ve been doing obviously the stuff that you can talk about not the stuff that you can’t talk about, you’ve got a page on IMDb which to me is like a thousand times cooler than having a page on Wikipedia…(laughter)
BEN: Well, a few years back, a friend of mine here in Calgary had …it was working on the Revenant movie and she was talking to the special effects co-coordinator and saying, well we need a good like you know, free thinker kind of artistic guy, that’s awesome and in computer rated design, and she said ‘’well you know you should talk to Ben’’ and …and so I got a phone call and it was like one of the best job interviews I’ve ever had. I got a phone call from a guy saying ‘’Hey I’m going to need you to send me a resume and that’s how the story goes. And at the end of the conversation, he’s like “I’m going to fly you out on Monday and you can start’.’ And I’m like what movie are we going to work on or what movies is this one? He says I can’t tell you.So when I arrived, I found out it was Star Trek beyond and I guess I was just….(LAUGHTER)
CHRIS: Let’s just paused there because you know Star Trek, we’re nuts, that’s like saying, we can send you back in time like…to two thousand years ago to the birth of your deity,(laughter) it’s like
BEN: Two weeks later, I’m… I’m at a bowling hall with Simon Pegg talking greekry, it was just like ‘’OH MY GOD THIS IS SO COOL!’’ (laughter)sorry, I feel like swearing….
CHRIS: No, it’s fine. That was awesome but it’s not the only thing, you’ve worked on, like other very cool things.
BEN: Yes, I’ve done like what legends of tomorrow T.V. show just a couple of episodes on that, um…I have done let’s see Maze Runner and …or parts of Maze Runner and Death Note which will be coming out on Netflix soon, and the last I was working on, you know my contract is done so well… I can mention what ..which was working I can’t necessarily mention what I did on it but it was …it’s the next predator movie that’s coming out and is that cool.
CHRIS: I mean for the cars play as well especially that is going to be you know…that’s gonna be, so let’s just talk a little bit about one of the things that you did on Star Trek which was a huge gamble, didn’t that like…I think Guinness record or how it was potentially off Guinness record
BEN: Yeah it wasn’t a gamble, I ended up designing a very large rotating set, there are some scenes where they’re getting tossed around in the hallways of the Enterprise and the set itself was… I think thirty feet in diameter and a hundred feet long, it was a giant rotating frame basically think of a giant two with an arched set inside of it and we needed it to rotate back and forth so, you know it was like there are being tumbled around inside the spaceship.
CHRIS: It was like pneumatic or hydraulic or?
BEN: It was hydraulic, we ended up, this is…. this is a kind of funny because the boss calls me into the office and he said, well we’re going to motor to move this, and I said yeah it’s going to take about sixteen hundred horsepower its going to be cheap. And so he says OK we will do some research and figure out what you need, and I already knew what we needed to get, I talked to a couple of my oil and gas friends from some of the other designs and contracting I’ve done and there’s he’s done hydraulic motors. So I went and got a couple quotes for them and I my heart sank when… when I was getting quotes for them because like you know two hundred fifty thousand dollars was the minimum cost and so I went to the boss and said look you know we can get these but there are two hundred fifty grand he goes “awesome! bye, two!” (Laughter) that would be great! Pardon?
CHRIS: That’s the whole new world, but the ….you worked also on the motorbike right?
BEN: Yeah the P.X. ninety, I think it is, they ….I ended up doing some 3D scanning of the motorbike itself and helping develop the new gas tank and some side panels and everything and you know winded up machining out a lot of the stuff but there were some sort of 3D print prototypes that we’d done just sort of get a… get a feel for it. There’s a lot to be said about making even if it’s not a finished product, is to have even a miniature in your hands kind of feel it and look at it and just sort of look at it in a different perspective than on a computer screen and it isn’t much on health.
CHRIS: So in the film industry a lot of people use like industrial item magic you know picks and stuff or like the lower budget stuff, they used to blend in, are you using Solid works, what are you using when you are doing this kind of stuff?
BEN: Well, it all depends, so it’s… it’s sort of a mixture of things. Now Solid works are just the base thing that I’m using, although very shortly I see this new program called Unsharp which is a cloud-based CAD is probably going to eat Solid Works as lunch here. But they don’t… they’re still sort of in their …their growth phase and there are a few fundamentals that they don’t have like weldments but it’s coming along so, I can see myself moving on to that. But when you’re working with that department and stuff they use things like that Zbrush and a lot of Autodesk products as far as doing the 3D organic modeling and to interface back and forth, there’s some other software, which is not expensive called Rhino and Rhino works great as a translator between the organics and the mechanical systems. So you know, I’m… I’m functional a lot of different packages but soldiers are definitely my strength Onshape as well but you know I can work in any… any CAD system it’s just a matter of you know give it to me, let me figure out the basics and then you know, away we go.
CHRIS: And I think Rhino, is more cat card, right? more like AutoCAD, sort of use like Zbrush, character design, an organic and so… your switching between like Solid Works which is like Engineering and (laughing)using all these different things, do you think Onshape might be potentially going to take over from Solid works?
BEN: You know I …I hesitated to say the way things will go, it’s almost impossible to predict the future but you know, I….the way Solid works, is as far as the financing model goes and how friendly they are, to makers and the usability and support. I’ve been using them since like the late ninety’s and I love the product but it’s frustrating trying to get help with them now .so…Onshaped is actually being designed by the original creators of Solid Works and they happen to be friends of mine because you know… I end up speaking at a few of their conferences and then they are…you know we befriended of each other and you know, went off for a few pints and stuff you know, during the conference and stuffs so, they invited me to their early alpha testing of Onshape and you know, wanted to you know…get my feedback of whatever it… however, things are going to go and I was just my jaw hit the table I’m just like wow! this is amazing! And they told me the price point, I was just like “oh my God! you know, sign me up! So you know I’ve been using it since it’s…. I’d say within a year of its first inception. CHRIS: So for like the 3D printing people ….the people who are just getting into like creating their own model, is that what you would advise people to go into then?Onshape?
BEN: Absolutely that’s my number one recommendation right now, part of it is that they have a great model where it’s a Premium type of thing where you can use the …the full on package, no dumbed down versions, no restrictions and make your own models the only …the only catch 22 on this is that, your models, if you doing it free are public so anybody in the world can see them, it’s sort of like imagine a 3D Facebook kind of concept .Now you know for me is that, what I can do is ,I’ve got a paid version so I can hide the models ,and then what I can also do though is,… is I can make a 3D model and I can share it with somebody and they can edit it back and forth, and if they have a paid version, it remains everything remains under a paid sort of rule system and you don’t…you don’t end up losing the Internet intellectual property of this, you know basically I’m going to the whole business side of thing. Here’s …here’s what it boils down to, if you want to make money it’s like one hundred dollars a month not a big deal for a CAD if you’re not making money and use want to learn how to use it, use it for free. And you can switch it on and off for different projects. So if you’re only going to use it for half a year then pay for half a year and when you shut it off, all those models and everything is still going to be considered …
BEN: They’re still going to be considered hidden and nobody’s going to be able to get them, you still going to have access to them, but to edit them you just have to set up your account again, and there’s no. there are no penalties for starting up live years later, and you just saw that everything basically in cold storage, like yeah cool! Here, you know no buying another month and we’ll mock up for you, it’s just… just like ah! Thank you.
CHRIS: When you showed me actually working on a model, I could see all the changes you were making but I was at home you were at your Office and I could see all the changes and you know …you were saying you know to do this, do that and we could both collaborate, I think that is absolutely massive. The Education and for people teaming up and live for the open source had less sight of what we do I think that is amazing. I mean I… I in my 3D workshop I spent a lot of time on printer CAD but this is really the next phase from….. from people who just want to put some primitives together to make a thing or two actually designing the thing it’s got you know that parametric side right?
BEN: Yeah, Oh it absolutely does! And you brought one thing up I should always mention is that, be able to have two people work on a model simultaneously, like I can work on one sketch that creates a certain feature you can also work on that same sketch at the exact same time we can make changes and everything’s life so it’s ..it has this dynamic sort of collaborative that no other CAD has, like amazing as far as that goes,
CHRIS: And that for history that you can go back and say that we got the wrong measurement here we can go back and change and everything else fits together.So just coming up to the end of this episode, I could talk to you for hours and we do, we go to the coffee shop and we do talk for hours but just want to finish up with the benefits of your experience, so what do you think the biggest mistakes people make in their 3D designs with their designing options. What do you think is the biggest reason people fail, in the have to …have all that frustration and go back and… too many prototypes.
BEN: At the risk of been you know waxing physiological here, is that…The biggest thing that I think a lot of people do is that they want to have it perfect the first time here’s the number one concept is that you’re going to fail and you’re going to fail constantly, you just need to embrace and love that failure. You know, there’s a million modeling tricks that somebody can teach you and you can become the best model in the world, it is …it doesn’t matter, you’re going to fail in the first few, so accept that your first prototype is not going to work. And just get in there and started doing some stuff, you know I speak at schools and conferences and my favorite speech is, failure way to success because my whole mandate is it’s like you know people say well you’re so talented, or you did this or did that ,it’s embarrassing, because I’m not that talented, I’m not that special. Here’s the… here’s the defining thing that I see that I have that nobody else does is that I embrace failure, I fail constantly and I laugh at it and I’d be lying to say like you know I want to punch things, I want to…you know, what you know built temper tantrum but be damned if it’s going to stop me just keep going, you know….
CHRIS: And you even see people in the special effects industry that have like a rigid mindset right?
BEN: Oh yeah! It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, you’re going to have these people like…You… they talk like the special effects industry is so progressive yet, when you’re in it, you go ‘’hey you know I’ve got these 3D printers ‘’ Oh yeah we tried it a few years ago, it doesn’t work and blah bla bla…and you are like, don’t have the right guy showing you what you needed just give me a chance. And you know it’s a lot of people are just you get stuck in your ways even I do and sometimes it just takes sort of like somebody to slap you and go ‘’hey you know what you should try this and see what’s going on’’
CHRIS: I’m always here if you need a slap Ben
BEN:(Laughter)OK …You going to slap me but I need. I need a coffee to go with…
CHRIS: (laughter)ok…deal! Well, we’ve come up time and I’m sure we’ll have you back on again because it’s great talking to you, gain the benefits of your experience. Is there anything cool you doing next? Anything that you want to talk about?
BEN: Oh yeah! you know, there’s… I’ve got a little bit of time off, you know my work takes me to Vancouver and I live in Calgary, so you know I don’t spend as much time with my family, so right now I’m developing a course, whether this is happening for sure or not I’m not sure, you’ll let me know in the comments of this podcast, is that I’m thinking I start teaching Onshape as a course, just sort of Onshape for makers ,Onshape for 3printers and just get people up to speed and kind of moving along and so I’m going to develop a course, you know let me know if you’d be interested in something like that because that’s something that …you know you’d be nice to spend a little more time at home, don’t get me wrong, I’m still going to be doing movies it’s way too much fun but I’d like to spend more time at home.
CHRIS: I’ll be first student …that’s a deal for you
BEN: OK ….There are a certain people I can teach in one course. OK yeah.(laughter)
CHRIS: I’ll twist you round on a coffee.Thank you very much, thank you for joining us, thank you, everybody, else for listening and please do review us, share, like us and most of all listen next time on our next episode Thanks, everybody.
BEN: See you guys…