Driven by a creative force: 3D Printing expands career possibilities for Prototype & Design student

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Matthew Paider, NWTC Prototype and Design student

Matthew Paider

NWTC Prototype and Design student

As a student at NWTC, Matthew Paider is majoring in prototyping and design, but it’s clear his passion for creative, hands-on work began long ago.

“I’ve been fascinated with art and the creative process for as long as I can remember,” said Paider, who has a particular affinity for Star Wars cosplay. A “tinkerer at heart,” he creates costumes and armor for the 501st Legion and Mandalorian Mercs – worldwide organizations that revolve around the recreation of screen accurate costumes to promote activism and charity within local communities.

Paider also loves making miniature models for tabletop wargaming – where players use strategy to move their mini warriors across the tabletop battlefield.

“I enjoy the uniqueness and personality that each figure/model brings to the gaming table,” Paider said. “So much gravity and story can be held in such a small package – it’s outstanding!”

In 2020, Paider established an Etsy site, Incendiary Creations, to “share a bit of that magic” and expand the collections of fellow gamers nationwide. Through his Etsy shop, he ships scaled model miniatures to gamers and collectors throughout the United States and completes custom orders as well.

Discovery leads to career turning point for Paider

A few years ago, while continuing to create cosplay costumes and minis, Paider stumbled upon 3D printing (also known as additive manufacturing), and that’s when, he said, “everything just kind of took off.” His first step was enrolling in the NWTC Prototype and Design associate degree program.

“The reason I chose NWTC is the program was unlike anything I’ve seen before,” he added. “It had a 3D printing component which I was really interested in. I wanted to expand my knowledge in the field and possibly pursue it even more professionally.”

In the program, Paider is refining his skills and learning about different manufacturing processes, including the use of 3D printers, CNC machining, and room temperature volcanizing (RTV) model making. “Everything kind of meets and blends together, and you have a better idea of how to make something through design intent, and then you get to bring that to reality which is just a real treat,” he said.

Paider sees 3D printing as a way to “open up accessibility” in the creative world. 

Matt Paider works on a fall semester project in the Prototype and Design lab.

Matt Paider works on a fall semester project in the Prototype and Design lab. He describes the project as tedious but also rewarding.

Matt Paider's completed project.

“This ODST (orbital drop shock trooper) helmet was approximately 160 hours of print time and took about seven weeks of work to achieve the desired surface finish.”

“Not everyone has a full-on woodshop. Not everyone has a vacuum form machine or injection molding machine,” he said. “This kind of levels the playing field. It kind of allows everybody to play and tinker together. And then everyone just gets better and better.”

As he looks to the future, Paider is open to multiple career options – from expanding his business, Incendiary Creations, to working within a model shop. Ideally, he would like to work in the film industry, making props and costumes.

As for Paider’s personal goal? “It’s just to become better than what I was previously and keep stacking that knowledge further and further and share it with others,” he said. “This [program] allowed me to focus on the details necessary to take something from being good to excellent.”

the Knight of Solamnia by Matt Paider

With each miniature model, Matt Paider brings a story to life. Pictured here: the  Knight of Solamnia.

the dwarf – a piece in which Paider, through his selected paint palette, wanted to convey the idea of a storyteller.

Pictured here: the dwarf – a piece in which Paider, through his selected paint palette, wanted to convey the idea of a storyteller.

See more of Paider’s brilliant work by following him on Instagram - @incendiary_bunny14.

About the program

Protype and Design is an associate degree program on the NWTC Green Bay campus. Students become skilled in 3D printing, hand fabrication, high quality painting and finishing, 3D drawing software, CNC machining, and RTV model making. Career opportunities include product development, prototype model builder, engineering design, architectural model builder, RTV mold maker, rapid prototype technician, and pattern maker.

Fact: 100% of 2022 Prototype and Design program graduates were employed within six months of graduating, with 100% of those grads employed in the field. Graduates are not only in demand locally, but nationwide as well. Grads have gone on to work for Disney, IBM, Johns Hopkins University, and Hasbro.

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