i3 | March 27, 2019

This 18-year Old Built a Future Proof 3D Printer

Jeremy Snow

The technology industry is notoriously a young person’s game, ripe to be plucked by college grads and tech prodigies who understand what people want and how to make it. Ethan Baehrend, at age 18 – young for even this group – hopes he’s next to join the ranks of tech’s most successful entrepreneurs thanks to a 3D printer he built that solves many of the technology’s common problems. 

Baehrend founded Creative 3D Technologies while in high school, a self-run business selling the 3D printer he developed on his own, which he said is one of the most cost-effective, flexible and feature-rich printers on the market. After he graduates in the spring, Baehrend is taking Creative 3D from his parent’s house to a real office space in Austin, TX, turning his after-school business venture into a full-time competitor in 3D printing.

So far, the years of Baehrend’s work has culminated in the CreativeBot Duo, a large-format 3D printer he built that blurs the line between professional and industrial-grade usage. According to the company’s website, the device is a “customizable, multi-functional printer [which] allows you to create models and projects faster, larger and more comfortably, all at one of the best cost-to-quality ratios ever.”

Baehrend has laid the groundwork for his move by finding an office space, his own apartment, and by hiring other employees. It’s become his passion, dream and sacrifice, he said, and is excited to see what the company can become with 100 percent of his focus.

As a kid from the suburbs of Illinois, Baehrend grew up tinkering with technology, learning coding and spending time in makerspaces. After buying a 3D printer from eBay on a whim, he quickly fell in love with the technology, excited by its creative and technological possibilities. Over time, he focused more on the hardware itself and he began buying broken 3D printers to repair and resell. 

As his expertise increased, he started to see holes in the printers on the market. While there were plenty of options, none of the printers served as a jack of all trades, providing a complete range of features at a reasonable price point. Unsatisfied, he started researching online, spending hours after school reading university resources and taking online classes on engineering and computer science. 

“To create something like this, I realized why no other company tried to put it on the market,” he said. Baehrend said the printer, which is big enough for him to sit atop, offers one of the best deals for 3D printers on the market when factoring in the number of features it has, including:

  • Mirror Mode: prints a mirror-reversed copy.
  • Dual Process Mode: prints with two different colors or two different materials.
  • Ditto Mode: produces duplicate parts and components.

The printer is also highly adaptable, allowing you to swap parts of it to fit other filaments and components. It is meant to blur the line and bring together professional 3D printers and the most high-end industrial printers. 

“The modularity of the Duo enables it to grow as 3D printing technology advances,” according to the website. “You can easily modify your machine to fit your specific needs. Toolheads and components for more applications are in the pipeline, effectively making the Duo a futureproof 3D printer!”

Baehrend even showcased an early version of his 3D printer at CES 2018 at Eureka Park, the largest startup event in the world. At the show, which is filled with numerous entrepreneurs, Baehrend held his own as one of the youngest exhibitors at CES.

A year after the show, Baehrend and Creative 3D are gearing up for his move and an exciting new chapter, despite the stress. It can be overwhelming sometimes, he said, and he often works 130-hour weeks due to balancing school with the business. Still, he’s excited to strike out on his own and focus entirely on Creative 3D in a new city.

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