A picture of Garry Bartsch smiling.

Garry Bartsch is an inventor like his father before him.

“That’s in my blood, I guess,” he says from Edmonton, Alberta. “I’ve always liked drawing things, and I’ve always liked designing things, and it’s been a hobby — it’s enjoyable, but it’s also useful to me.”

As a C5-C6 quadriplegic, 3D printing gives Garry an avenue to create.

“I’ve been 3D printing for seven years now, and I really like it, because I can’t do things with my hands — I can type, and I can operate a computer, but I can’t really make anything — but with the printer, I can just design things on CAD and then the printer makes stuff.”

He started with an UP Plus 3D printer, before upgrading five years ago to a Mendel90 kit, which he built with his daughter. His current 3D printer, however, he designed himself, with the help of his friends Mike and John, as well as his daughters.

Garry’s been printing his inventions that he uses himself, and for his friends.

Recently, Garry has also been dedicating his 3D printing talents to printing devices for Makers Making Change.

He has printed seven low tech assistive technology kits, as well as providing Makers Making Change with a great deal of switch testers, which help other makers test their devices as they are building them.

“I like printing,” he shares. “I’m kind of fussy, because I like to make a really nice print that’s gonna be strong and doesn’t look horrible, like there’s people that can print better than me, but I’m fussy, I like to do my best, I like a challenge.”

He says printing is a team effort for him, as his friends and family help him greatly.

“It’s a very collaborative effort, like I just couldn’t do it without all the help that I get,” he says. “If my friends didn’t help me make the machine and keep it running, if my kids didn’t help me take parts off the printer when they’re stuck too hard, fix some things, or swapping plastic, if my wife didn’t put up with my spending all the money on the stuff, it wouldn’t happen.”

Any tips for those looking to get into 3D printing?

“You need to have some CAD software, you need to have a computer, you need to be able to operate a computer, you’ll need slicer software, most of that’s free — you can pay for them too, but you can find free ones,” he shares.

“I just learned on my own, reading forum posts, now there’s tons on Youtube, you can learn almost anything, so now is a good time if anybody is interested because there’s so much help available.

“And the machines have improved a lot over seven years. There’s a lot of really good machines, now you can buy a Prusa and start using it, it’s probably gonna work right away, or an Ender 3, they’re not expensive machines, but they do a good job.”