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Celebrating five years of Gantri

Looking back & introducing our new brand identity

Written by Gantri Editorial Team

Oct 14, 2021

The story of Gantri started five years ago on the mezzanine floor of a commercial coffee roaster in the Mission. It was our first real “office”. It had two desks - one for computers and another for our 3D printers. The space had no heating and always smelled like burnt coffee beans. But the air was filled with excitement. We had already onboarded a few designers and the first finished prototypes came back looking beautiful. I knew that my hunch was right - we’re onto something.

I stumbled upon 3D printing through a class I took at the San Francisco Techshop. Out of all the different machines there, I was most intrigued by 3D printers. It just felt so magical - an object could go from a computer screen to reality, seemingly out of thin air. But as I learned more about the industry, its promises and struggles, I realized that it was still a technology in search of applications.

Lucky for me, I knew one that would be perfect for it - design.

While 3D printing was new to me, I knew intimately the problem of the design market. Good design is critical to our wellbeing. It makes us feel inspired and helps us live better lives. But it’s also extremely expensive, often costing 10-20x that of mass-made counterparts. This is primarily due to the astronomical cost of developing, manufacturing and distributing products that are small-batch by definition. Designers have an innate drive to create and an almost universal desire to make design more accessible. But their dreams are stymied by the complexities and limitations of traditional manufacturing. This is the unfortunate reality of design - an astonishing lost opportunity for design lovers and design creators.

But what if we’re no longer bound by traditional manufacturing constraints? What if we could use 3D printing to lower the barriers for designers to launch new designs, and in return make good design more accessible? This simple idea set me on the path to starting Gantri, named after the gantry of the 3D printer that made my first print.

Even though the idea was simple, building Gantri was anything but. Over the past five years, we’ve heard every detraction - “no designers would ever work with you”, “the products won’t be high-quality enough”, “there’s no way you can run a factory in America”. We faced challenge after challenge, from dealing with materials shortages to building a new facility in the heat of the pandemic. What kept us going was the shared belief that we’re doing something remarkable that no one has ever done before, and our work has a direct positive impact on the world.

Since our days at the Mission roaster 5 years ago, we’ve had the honor of collaborating with some of the world’s best designers, studios and brands, launching award-winning lighting products that have redefined what “everyday design” means in the 21st century. We grew from 1 3D printer to over 1500, making us the largest 3D print farm in the world and putting a spotlight on this previously obscure, futuristic technology. More importantly, we’ve shown that no matter how loud the naysayers were and how tough the challenges, our team members and our community can work together to overcome them. Because we believe in an optimistic future, where there are more opportunities and more creativity.

Today I’m proud to introduce Gantri’s new identity that’s bolder, more confident and more truthful to why I started the company - to empower creators from anywhere in the world to bring great designs to life. With our new look, we’re also placing our idea of good design front and center, doubling down on our commitment to making aspirational design more accessible and more relevant to everyday living. And we’re more passionate than ever about harnessing the power of 3D printing, digital manufacturing and other innovative technologies to support our mission.

Here’s to many more years. I’m glad to have you on our journey.

Ian Yang

Founder and CEO