Founded in 1987, Via Technologies is a fabless creator of chipsets, processors, memory and other electronics products. Right now, they are causing a stir in the market for a different reason. Jam. Nope, it has nothing to do with cooked fruits and sugar. This Jam is all about creativity – through the new science of 3D printing. KitGuru prepares for sticky fingers.
Back in the late seventies a tall, young English chap called Richard Brown developed an interest in the Far East. We're talking about a time in the UK when everything from ‘outside' was viewed with huge suspicion. Each town would have one or two Chinese takeaways – all of which had to adapt their menus to accommodate weak stomachs that liked only fish and chips, bangers and mash.
Richard ended up studying for a degree at London University's School of Oriental and African Studies. His year out was spent in parts of China, he fell in love with the place and never looked back. After joining Via, he rapidly made his way up through the company's ranks and he's now Via's VP for International Marketing. Highly unusual for a non-Chinese person to be playing at that level in China – believe us!
Enough background, what's all this about the Jam?
Via firmly believes that 3D printing will change the world in ways that we don't yet fully understand. While there is concern in the USA that children will be able to print guns and kill each other even more, there is a very cool, totally safe side to 3D printing that Via is trying to encourage.
Richard told us, “3D printing is starting to take off in Taiwan but still in its early stages”.
So what's the event about?
“It's a two day event where we teach people how to create and print 3D files. The aim is to get people to learn the technology and hopefully show their creativity”, said Richard. “We've held a couple of events so far and it's gone really well”.
We all know what it's like when presented with a brand new way to ‘do stuff'. It takes a while, and a little encouragement, to wrap your head around it and to see the possibilities. We have to applaud Via for its foresight here.
Judging from the Jam shots Richard sent over, creativity seems to start ‘close to home' – doll's houses in this case. So what is the most practical application Via has found for this new technology?
“With jam, our aim is to promote creativity”, he explained. “With Via, 3D printing has allowed for fast prototyping – for example the cases for our APC board”.
For those not familiar with APC, it was launched as a ‘complete system on a board' – complete with OS and NAND – for around $49. Technically, we suppose it could be called a Neo-ITX, but whatever label you give it – it is small, it is cheap and it is cool. Which leaves you the possibility of designing your own custom case for it. Enter 3D printing.
Here are some shots from Via's latest Jam session in Taiwan:-
KitGuru says: We find this whole area fascinating. For those of us who grew up with IBM golf ball printers – with Start Trek replicators on our TV screens – the idea of practical, affordable 3D printing for all is very appealing.
Comment below, in the KitGuru forums or join us online over at Facebook.