A new Iqaluit-based 3D printing company is hoping to bring a new manufacturing capacity to the territory with its printers. From reproductions to custom tools and more Apex3D is hoping to create new possibilities for the North.
Apex3D was one of the sponsors for the 2022 Nunavut Quest, printing off uqsiq (dog-trace rings) for the dog mushers, this was one of the businesses first forays into the public. A special golden uqsiq was made for the winner of Nunavut Quest – this year Jonah Qaunaq took that top prize.
“It’s been something I’ve been thinking about for about 15 years but the technology just didn’t exist at that time,” said Kirt Ejesiak, CEO of Apex3D.
Ejesiak actually bought his first 3D printer in 2014, a Makerbot Z18, however the tech needed more advancements before becoming a viable option, he explained.
Now, 15 years later, the technology is finally here and there are three 3D printers inside the company’s shop in Apex.
He says 3D printers can be used to manufacture items like uqsiq, or go as far as custom scanning of parts for snowmobiles and shops that need specialized fittings.
“There are so many opportunities which are possible from this,” said Ejesiak.
This includes creating art and reproductions of art. With thousands of pieces in museums around the world, he hopes to bring some of that back in the form of reproductions made at Apex3D.
“Our culture is rich with beautiful things. I studied in Boston, at Harvard, (in 2005) having visited schools and museums, like the National Museum of the American Indian – we have such beautiful stuff just sitting in museums around the world. I really thought we need to get this stuff to our kids, it’s stuff that we own.”
Until there’s a dedicated Inuit arts centre in Nunavut, reproductions are the next best option in bringing historical Inuit art to Inuit, Ejesiak added.
“Now with the technology, I can literally travel with my equipment and get access to that stuff and scan it,” he said, once they bring back the digital files, they can print it here in Nunavut.
Ejesiak stressed that he doesn’t intend to use his 3D printers in place of traditional Inuit art, but rather another tool to create Inuit art.
“I have a lot of family who are artists, so I’d figure I’d focus on stuff that’s kind of hard to make or impossible to reproduce without 3D technology,” he said, pointing out there’s a lot of great art being made by Inuit online already.
“My father’s an artist, he sent me a beautiful walrus task. I scanned that, produced the replicas and we did at least sell two of those things to organizations with custom labelling and their logo.”
Apex 3D can also do topographic and community mapping for planners and government entities, utilizing scans from drones.
Kirt is looking to train at least five people this year on 3D printing. This ranges from hi-resolution 3D scanning, full colour 3D printing, learning about 3D design and more.