In 2019, the Grand Challenges Initiative started the tradition of honoring a community partner that helps our students, our postdoctoral fellows, and our community reach our goal of inspiring and empowering the next generation of scientists and engineers.

This year, we can think of no partner more deserving than MatterHackers. Based nearby in Lake Forest, MatterHackers has become a leader in providing tools, supplies, and resources for people to pursue digital fabrication through emerging technologies like 3D printing. Along the way, they have fostered a community of people passionate about exploring the potential for 3D printing to transform manufacturing in the 21st century. For the Grand Challenges Initiative, MatterHackers has become essential to what we do on a daily basis:

Biochemistry and molecular biology major Alex Jones ’21 peers in on a 3D print in progress.

MatterHackers has helped us bring 3D printing to hundreds of our students who have never been exposed to the technology. Our science and engineering program has leaped from just a single 3D printer to more than twenty printers capable of working with some of the most advanced materials in the world.

Chris Costello (right) listens as Terrence Lee ’21 explains his team’s water filtration project at the 2019 GCI Showcase.

MatterHackers has been at nearly every one of our student networking events, helping students explore opportunities in engineering and manufacturing.

MatterHackers has created new opportunities for our alumni, including the recent hire of Fernando Silva ’19 (pictured above). Silva has been working on the production line, building 3D printers.

MatterHackers has been at the forefront of the 3D printing community’s response to the emergence of COVID-19, serving as a hub for individuals and organizations to print and distribute critical personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers and other essential personnel. In addition to supplying materials to science and engineering students, staff, and faculty at Chapman University, which has now printed more than 5000 pieces of PPE, MatterHackers has now coordinated the printing of more than 45,000 pieces of PPE delivered to more than 150 hospitals. Their approach is a model for how science, engineering, and business can come together for the common good.

We are pleased to award our annual Golden 3D-Printed Crescent Wrench Award to MatterHackers this year on May 15th.