One of the most personal talks delivered during last year’s edition, was Ron van den Ouweland’s 3D and Me – Making plastic precious. The concept of using 3D printing to make memories and objects “come alive” is an utopic dream come true. What is Ron up to these days and how has his presence at TEDxBreda influences his career?

Thank you for answering our call. People want to know how your life was influenced after you went off the TEDx stage.
I noticed how I was taken more seriously by people around me, some of whom shared my talk with their clients – leading to a few projects directly in line with the subject of my talk.

That’s really great to know! But when did you first heard of TED talks? Do you have a favorite?

I started watching TED talks around 2009, when I was researching creativity in education. Since then Sir Ken Robinson’s talk has definitely been keeping its place among my favorites.

Can we talks about a relationship between TEDx and the city of Breda? How do you see the two?
I think it’s a symbiotic one, with Breda as the blade that cuts room for creativity, while TEDx makes sure it keeps a sharp edge.

That’s very poetically put! But how did you eventually got to take part in TedxBreda?
I spoke about my 3D printing projects with Frederik, which involved one project that really spoke to him – convincing him to put me in touch with Menno. I jumped at the opportunity and the rest is history.

What can you tell us about preparing for the talk?
It was nerve wracking. When I talked about my work with Menno, he told me I could tell the same story on stage and it’d be perfect. However, I didn’t remember exactly what I told him. So when couldn’t recall the story I first made it bigger, more conceptual. Then I wrote it out, and it was like ten pages long. I decided to start over, and with a clearer focus, stripping over 75% of my original story. Eventually I had a reasonable draft ready for the rehearsal, but I didn’t feel I finished my script completely till about one hour before my presentation.

Nonetheless, it felt very “real” – How did it feel standing on the TEDx stage?
It was exciting. Everything was organized so professionally it made me feel like a genuine star. And since I’d been wishing to do a TED talk some day for years, this moment felt like a great step toward that goal.

How was “the view” from up the stage?
The vibe was very friendly. The crowd wasn’t too big and the venue really resonated with me. The lighting was set in a way that I could see the audience, and I could tell they were curious about what I was about to share with them.

What was the first thought you had after going off that stage?
WAAAA. Never mind that rocky start, I really felt it at the end.!

How did your presence at the event influence your cause?
It made my cause more legitimate, at least to me, partly because I got multiple comments about the significance and originality of my idea.

Locally and internationally – how do you think your talk inspired people?
I think it inspired people to take another look at plastic, and maybe take it less for granted that nowadays anyone can make anything they want with it. Also, it might have shown the relevance for 3D printing at home for people who wouldn’t know what to make if they ever got one.

Would you do it again? What would you change?
I would love to have another go. This time I wouldn’t spend so much time on establishing context, and dive into the stories as soon as possible. Also, if it would be the ‘same’ talk I’d be giving, I would present it as if I was talking to my late mother – the main character of my most heartwarming project.

What’s next for you, what are your current and future ambitions?
Currently I’m working at a company that sells maker technologies like 3D printers and laser cutters to schools and SMB companies, which we complement with training and design services – literally powering the maker community in my area. On the long term I hope to apply the knowledge I gather there to my independent projects, and make them so impressive that they deserve a podium on the conference in Vancouver.

Do you have any suggestions regarding our future speakers?
It’s probably better to have a few notes in your hand that you might not need, than no notes and a dependency on your slides for the cues in your story – that way you won’t be thrown off your game in case the technical support momentarily fails.

How can we improve TedXBreda?
Maybe think of a way to easily create an elevated space for props that you talked about and want to keep on stage.

What do you think of this year’s theme – Gamification a.k.a. ‘Pause. Reload. Game on’?
I think the theme is very promising, play is our most valuable weapon against hopelessness. The title is a bit confusing to me though, why pause and reload.?

What is your view on play as part of life?
Play is all about finding challenges just within your reach, making you grow toward a place beyond your wildest expectations. It’s also the best way to build trust between people – because you play by the same rules. There’s just no better breeding ground for experimentation and creativity.

Interested in a collaboration? You can get in touch with Ron