Matthew Compeau and Bi-Ying Miao of Hot Pop Factory

In the fall of 2012, Matthew Compeau and Bi-Ying Miao launched the Hot Pop Factory, a 3D printed jewelry company. Both had backgrounds in architecture and experience with using 3D printing for prototyping designs. And both had a fundamental interest in how design manifests as space and form in the physical world.

As price points for personal 3D printers became more affordable, an artistic seed started to sprout and they purchased a MakerBot Replicator to take their creative aspirations beyond making mere prototypes. 

“Initially, we didn't know that jewelry would be the final outcome,” explains Miao. “We both knew we wanted to find a way to make the technology relevant in the mainstream. Jewelry became the embodiment of that idea due to its intimate and highly personal nature.”

And Hot Pop Factory was born.

Hot Pop Factory Peaque Necklace

Last month, Miao and Compeau hosted a Valentine’s event featuring live 3D scanning and 3D printing for the public. The event was inspired by their personalized candy dispensers project, but with a romantic twist they called the “3D Kissing Booth.” Sweethearts were scanned in three dimensions and had miniatures of the pose 3D printed. Their blog provides a nice
video recap of the event.  

This month, the designer-entrepreneurs will unveil their second collection at the One of a Kind show in Toronto. Their first collection, called Stratigraphia, conisted of three bold and elegant pieces "celebrating the stratified texture of 3D printed objects." The new collection will better fulfill the promise of 3D printing in terms of what’s achievable with new forms and materials, according to Miao.

 Left: A couple posing at Hot Pop Factory’s Valentine’s event. Right: their 3D printed keepsake. 

Compeau adds that the new collection is a little overdue. "Since starting our company last year, the attention has been a bit overwhelming," he says. "It's taken us the last six months to lay the proper groundwork to keep up with demand and to take full advantage of the opportunities we've had to spread the word about our work. Now that we've overcome the initial growing pains we are finally getting back to the design side of things, which is where our true passion lies."

Miao and Compeau are both involved in the design process. "We usually start with a broad concept or theme which we try to encapsulate digitally as a generative algorithm," says Compeau. "We use advanced computational design tools to generate our designs and then it’s a back-and-forth process between 3D printing full scale prototypes we can wear and touch, and tweaking the parameters of our computational models to get the best outcomes. It's always a learning process as you go."

Their toolbox includes Grasshopper, a generative modeling plugin for the CAD software Rhino and Processing, which is a programming language built to empower artists and designers to quickly generate programmatic/interactive designs.

"The nice part about having the final means of production sitting right in our living room is that we've had a real product to sell since day one," explains Miao. "This has allowed us to bootstrap our business and scale it gradually as the demand for our products increases."