Talking to our friend… Gianpaolo di Silvestro
Hi Gianpaolo! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My business is to prepare fossils for major museums around the world, but recently also modeling and products for museum use. My days are divided between commercial commitments and the creation of innovative projects.
I collaborate and work with three 3D sculptors, two artists and 1 paleontological preparer. Managing all these people is not easy, but it’s fun… in this way I can create unique products that blend art and science. Because of the Covid I am now stationary in Italy but when I can travel I manage everything from remote areas of the world like the island of Hokkaido or the Nevada desert! No, it’s not easy… 🙂
How long ago and why did you start 3d printing?
Not everyone knows, but I started thinking about some projects with 3D as early as 2014 when there were very few machines and they were very expensive. It was NOT possible, to produce in house and the rehearsals really became “out of budget” but I really liked the idea of creating digitally and bringing back to life forms that lived 540 million years ago.
In 2016 we created the first one-piece trilobite model with a nylon sintering printer; that piece is still on display at the Royal Ontario Museum. Now with resin printing everything is easier and more accessible, but once it was really complicated… and only a few years have passed… technology is progressing very quickly.
Can you tell us more about the products you print?
As I told you, I use 3D printing to create functional prototypes for museum exhibitions, and recently also for a series of models for educational play. Many of our models are exhibited in the windows of prestigious Natural History Museums both in Europe and Asia, as well as in America.
3D printing allows you to create even large models and skip the copying process, clearly this is only useful for unique pieces, while for home modeling, we use 3D printing to create prototypes which will then be copied in series by traditional.
What printer do you use, what types of resin & why do you use these products (and not other products)?
I have four 3D printers, a Phrozen Transform, a Phrozen Sonic Mini, a Phrozen 4K and an Elegoo Saturn, as well as a large filament printer. I have used many types of resin, but I must say that in my case it is important to have a single type of resin that can fit all machines. For me 3D printing is a matter of work, so that the time to experiment is drastically reduced and therefore when the mix you tested works well, you never abandon it.
The resin that I use most in almost 99% of cases is Siraya Fast Gray with a little Sculpt mixed to darken the color. I must say that it works very well, it almost never mistakes the printing and the result is always very satisfying. Let me be clear, my use is a little extreme, and therefore I understand that there are also other resins with excellent properties, but being for me 3D printing part of a production process I have to optimize costs and benefits.
I have to say that Phrozen has been making some very good machines in the past lately, and if I’m honest, I’m having some problems with them. He might be a leader but their customer care isn’t the best. With the Transform 4K that I bought on FEPshop I printed some really crazy models, too bad it is not possible to upgrade to 6K or 8K. That machine works very well, the prints come out divine and it really speeds up the processing of the models.
… With the Sonic Mini I still print pieces or parts and I must say that it is still a beautiful machine, one of the best 3D printers I’ve ever had. (Cheap, durable, perfect in printing.)
As far as Elegoo is concerned, I love the very solid structure and the quality of construction. They are personal opinions and lead by my experiences. I believe that the production houses should test the machines more with field tests companies than relying on YouTubers, but these are purely personal opinions. Of every machine I have to know its strengths and weaknesses… I can honestly say that the ease of printing with the Phrozen is disarming, but you need to know how the file preparation process works and how the resin will behave during the process of photocatalysis. I love the ability to use third-party resin printers, as well as slicers that allow me to jump to different platforms.
What are your best tips and/or tricks for 3D printing and/or in regard to the products you use?
I must say that there are not many tricks that I use, except to always use “hot” resins .. I use a cup warmer to always have the resins at the perfect temperature, and in this way I can print continuously. When your plate is perfectly sanded, your LCD works perfectly, and your room temperature is OK… you have 70% of success from your side. Supports are one of the most important features in 3D printing. I prefer to spend time in postproduction (heavy support removing) than losing 2 or 3 prints in the process…
How do you know about FEPshop?
Simone Rasetti, one of my 3D sculptors, suggested me and I contacted Rolf for a Sonic Mini and so I became your client. I must say that you are very fast and the packages always arrive flawlessly. What I can recommend to improve you is to have a storyboard of your clients; many are newbies and I realize that custom care has to ask many questions to understand the problems. But companies like mine often need more concrete practical answers, since time is always short and you don’t have the physical possibility of doing all the check what is working or not, when you already knows the problems. Having said that I would recommend the company with my eyes closed, from my point of view.
Why do you like to buy products at FEPshop?
Speedy shippings, ease of purchasing from the website and -from a business point of view- the possibility of reducing the tax cost as VAT is deductible.