Josef Průša: I am glad people treat me as an equal at 24
Interview with Josef Průša, Czech pioneer of 3D printing
When Josef Průša talked about the 3D printing at TEDxPrague four years ago, he concluded his speech saying “Welcome to the future”. And he was quite right. Back then, he was still a student and 3D printers a rarity most of us could hardly imagine. Today, he is a recognized authority not just in the Czech Republic, but all around the world and the public awareness of the 3D printing is rising. He runs his own company, designs and constructs Open Source 3D printers full-time and this February, he was featured on the cover of Forbes as one of the 30 under 30 brightest young Czechs.
How often do you have to explain what is it that you do exactly?
I don’t need to tell my friends anymore. Many people know what 3D printing is and all I have to explain is that I don’t just sell something, that I design and construct printers too. But they often know it already, they saw either me, or my competition on TV, so it is much better now than it used to be a few years ago.
When we met at TEDx in 2010, you studied applied informatics at the University of Economics. Now you have your own company, worldwide recognition and your face is on the cover of Forbes. Had TEDx any influence on your career?
They already knew me in the world, but TEDx had a great impact on how the Czech media began to perceive me. Until then, they knew more or less nothing about me and no one asked me about the printers. After TEDx came lots of interviews and various TV stuff, which helped both me and the 3D printing. As I do Open Source, I think the way I promote printing in the media is quite reasonable. If the same space was given to someone who is into serious business, it would be less general and very commercial.
Why 3D printers?
It began as a hobby. People expect me to say I started to do this because I wanted to change the world… but I simply enjoyed it. It may be one of the reasons why I am so good at it. All I need now is a holiday to have a little break from it. When you do business, it is like a train. You either ride it or you go away for two weeks, while the train goes on and you need to work twice as hard to catch it again.
I suppose you have a busy life. How does your day look like?
Most of the day is eaten up by my firm, which is still quite small, so I have to deal with all the problems myself. I don’t have my schedule filled with meetings, not exactly. Media invent the most ridiculous things and then people think you can print out everything. And they want to talk about it with me. So I am quite picky about appointments, but there are a few. Then I am also busy making my business grow and I do various talks – soon I am having two keynotes in Germany on FabCon and in Texas on Open Education Conference.
Aren’t you tempted, just as many other young Czechs, to find a job abroad?
I actually do work abroad, my project is global. But I live here, because I like it here, and what I do is everywhere the same.
Which fields are likely to benefit from 3D printing the most?
There are many options. You can print prosthesis for instance. But I have never thought about this much. I create the technology and I want it to be as simple as possible, so that even normal people could have it at home. The purpose will come with it. The technology is still very young.
Imagine you have never heard about 3D printers. What would you do now?
I would probably end up just as the majority of intelligent people do. I would have graduated by now, thinking I am really good. I would continue with a Master’s degree and I would be living in a flat paid for by my parents… Then I would find some boring job and hate it for the rest of my life. Now, with hindsight, I don’t like the fact you graduate at 26 and only then you start building a career. I am really glad I managed to speed it up and that people treat me as an equal at 24.
Do you want to know what the future innovators and visionaries got to say? No problem.
WHEN? June 21st 2014
WHERE? Hybernia Theatre
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