If you had to describe Samantha Snabes in one word, it would have to be “ambitious.”
She’s a trained EMT, volunteer firefighter, Captain of the Mississippi Air National Guard, ex-NASA employee, and founder of re:3D, a Houston and Austin-based company that’s making the world’s largest affordable 3D printer. But there’s no slowing Snabes down. She’s currently on a mission to create a 3D printer that prints from garbage, a project that won her and her team $180,000 at the Austin Creator Awards. We spoke to Snabes to find out more about her journey.
Have you always been interested in tech growing up?
I grew up in Detroit and I always wanted to be an astronaut. I went to every camp, seminar, and clinic that I could as a child to try to find out how to be an astronaut.
From space camp, I had a list of astronauts and what state they were from. I used that to find them in the White Pages and call them at their house and say, ‘’Hey I want to be an astronaut, what do I have to do?’’
That drove my experiences through high school because when I met with the astronauts, they told me I had to go to college, so I decided to go to college. They told me I should pick a career in science, and that’s what I did.
“Me and my team quit our jobs at NASA because we consider ourselves explorers at heart.”
What’s the coolest thing you’ve seen someone make with one of your printers?
We all have our favorites. There’s a researcher at A&M who came up with a really cool way to use the print itself to treat cancer on a dog that couldn’t be treated otherwise, so there’s huge breakout potential.
What challenges have you run into?
There was a huge learning curve. It took us three months to get to what we called Gigabot 1 to the early backers.
The first couple of orders were built out of co-founder Matthew Fielder’s house, which is hard because the Gigabot is so big and shipping is super complicated. It didn’t take long for us to realize that we were going to need an office.
It took almost two years to go from Matthew’s living room to our first very small office, which we just moved out of.