Mike Moceri was a freshman in college when he first became interested in 3-D printing from a video he saw on the Internet. Today, Moceri runs Manulith, a 3-D printing and design company based in Detroit, Michigan.
At first, Moceri couldn’t afford a 3-D printer, so he bought the parts and built his own. With this machine, Moceri created 3-D portraits of people at exhibitions by using new 3-D scanning technology.
“The company prints 3-D models for whatever customers need. On the day I stopped by, they were printing everything from a model of a new house to fixtures on a chandelier.”
Moceri soon joined with a few business partners and started a store in Chicago. “We opened the world’s first publicly-assessible 3-D printing facility,” he said. “It was like 3-D Kinko’s.”
But soon, Moceri wanted to get more involved in developing 3-D printing services for small businesses and larger projects. This led to Manulith, which he describes as a “full-fledged pipeline service – from initial conception of the idea all the way to actual manufacturing.” To save customers time and money, Manulith cuts out many of the middlemen that are usually involved in the process of designing a product.
Manulith offers an advantage over other 3-D printing companies because they help with the design process so that someone with no technical experience can work with the team to get their idea printed. Manulith is even developing a system that will let customers view and manage every step of the design, production, and billing process to improve efficiency and communication.
The company prints 3-D models for whatever customers need. On the day I stopped by, they were printing everything from a model of a new house to fixtures on a chandelier.
They even scanned my head. It’s surprisingly easy. You simply sit on a chair in front of what looks like an Xbox Kinect bar but is actually a 3-D scanner. As you spin around, the camera downloads your head into Manulith’s design program.
It’s an exciting feeling to watch this new business take shape in a city that has been plagued by severe economic troubles.
Moceri grew up in the Detroit area, and he recognizes that there is a negative feeling associated with the city because of the recent problems. But he sees a lot of positive energy and hope in the Motor City.
“I always knew in my heart that I wanted to bring something back to Detroit,” said Moceri. “I just didn’t know it would be so soon.” One of his favorite things about it so far? The business community is tight-knit, and there are a lot of people working hard to make the city grow “out of the ashes.”
Moceri has always wanted to be an entrepreneur. At 17, he had already started his first company. He realized quickly that he enjoyed helping other people create things.
But he said the hardest thing for most entrepreneurs is finding good people. Moceri recommends that new business owners look for people that share their passion and capacity for hard work
“It’s a very hard thing to start a company,” said Moceri. He had plenty of 18-hour days. “When the pressure is on, you can’t curl up and die. You have to fire up your engines and run on all cylinders.”
Daniel Huizinga is a columnist for Opportunity Lives covering business and politics. Follow him on Twitter @HuizingaDaniel.