Model maker
Central 3D Systems hosts tournament to show what 3-D printer can do

By Sarah Pryor - Freeman Staff

March 21, 2014

Art Flater, one of the founders of Central 3D Systems, plays pingpong with a paddle and ball that were both made with a 3-D printer.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

CITY OF PEWAUKEE - As the Wisconsin Badgers were cinching their spot in the next round of the March Madness tournament, the folks at Central 3D Systems were hosting a tournament of a different kind - a pingpong tournament with paddles and balls made entirely by 3-D printers.

“Anyone who manufactures something needs a 3-D printer,” said President Chris Rosecky. “If you conceive it, you can make it in one of these”

The Saratoga Drive business started in 1973 as an office supply company called Central Office Systems and became Central 3D Systems in 2013 - six years after Rosecky and his business partner Art Flater purchased it.

“We realized that we have this great infrastructure and products, but now instead of printing on paper, you have a physical object at the end,” Rosecky said.

The printers range from about $50,000 to $95,000 depending on what the business needs it to do: print in color, print using multiple materials like rubber and plastic, etc.

A Romulan battle cruiser, foreground, is one of many items made with a 3-D
printer at Central 3D Systems.

Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

“It’s great for prototyping,” Rosecky said, holding up a 3-D printed plastic model of a sandal from a popular shoe company. “Before you would send it off to China and have to wait for the prototype to be made. Now it can be printed within hours.”

At Thursday’s event, Central 3D systems showed off models of everything from metal parts to miniature Star Trek ships to a life-sized engine block - all printed on 3-D printers.

“Before printers people would hand-make these things from wood or steel. Think of the time and manpower,” Rosecky said.

A colorful pingpong paddle made at Central 3D Systems. This paddle was made from a brittle material, but the firm also printed less colorful paddles from solid nylon.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

Rosecky, Flater and their crew have been selling 3-D printers to businesses around the area for about a year now, and Rosecky said feedback has been tremendous. However, even though their product might draw interest from clients in big cities all over the region, they enjoy being headquartered right here in Waukesha County.

“If we can do business with these companies here, those benefits show throughout the entire community,” Rosecky said.