On this week's episode of the Coaster101 podcast we're joined by Matt Schmotzer of Print My Ride Detroit. We first noticed Matt five years ago when he unveiled he was working on a working 3D printed roller coaster model recreation of Invertigo shuttle coaster found at Kings Island. We caught up with Matt to hear about the incredible projects he's been working on since then, including:
Print My Ride Detroit Podcast Transcription
*We are testing out an automated podcast transcription service for the first thirty minutes of the podcast and welcome your feedback.*
NW: Welcome back to another episode of the Coaster101 podcast. This week, I’m your host, Nick Weisenberger. Coming to you live from Dublin, Ohio. And if you’re listening to the show, you may have noticed that we’ve gone on a little bit of a unexpected break here in April 2022. It’s been a kind of crazy and hectic month, but we are back and we have a very special guest. Even if you don’t know his name, you probably know some of the projects that he’s worked on. It is the man behind Print My Ride Detroit, Matt Schmotzer, how’s it going, Matt?
MS: Pretty good. Thanks for the intro. I really appreciate it.
NW: No problem. Thanks for being here. And so if people that have been Coaster101 fans and have been reading articles on our website, they should know you because we did in an interview, actually, all the way back in 2017. Actually, yes, five years ago. Yes. That’s crazy. Time flies. So I guess quickly first, for the people that haven’t heard of that article, which you should stop the podcast and go read it now. But can you kind of quickly introduce yourself?
MS: Yeah, absolutely. So as you said, my name is Matt Schmotzer and I am Print My Ride Detroit. And my whole, I guess stick is to do working in the model roller coasters, and specifically ones that are 3d printed. And now more. So just just working models in general, I yeah, I met up with you guys back in 2017. Because I did a working 3d printed model of Invertigo, which is a roller coaster at Kings Island. And I did I think it was like a 120. At scale, I can’t remember the scale off the top my head. But it was a working model. And you were nice enough to reach out and ask me how I, you know, worked on that. And what I did. And really, at the time, this is five years ago, by the way, I was just doing this as a project to get noticed in the coaster, you know, realm, as you know, trying to get my foot in the door to eventually work on actual real roller coaster projects and kind of just find my way to get into the industry. So it’s funny, because, you know, back then I had no idea what I was doing, and just trying to do something cool. And now I feel like I use that as a stepping stone to find my way to venture into new projects, cooler projects, and actually projects that I would like to think are in the industry and got me to where I am. And I turned a hobby, or a passion project into now a you know, successful side business. So I really think it’s it’s almost like an underdog story. And I love talking about it. Because just because you know, I did it and I found my way doesn’t mean anyone else couldn’t and find their own way. And I think the point is do cool projects people will notice and then they will give you opportunities.
NW: That’s awesome. That’s an awesome story. And yeah, it was your Invertigo project is the thing that really caught our eye. Because before that I think I’d seen maybe like someone do 3d printing for like a single piece of track or maybe a car. But yours was the first fully operational, realistic looking, operating model rollercoaster.
MS: Yeah. And at the time, I was following like Mike Graham and Phil Kaiser. And they had and Chris Gray. They did model roller coasters. Specifically, like Mike Graham had to work in one. Phil had working ones I know you have some other articles on them and on your website. And I was thinking, okay, they did cool things that got them noticed, how do I put my own mark, because you know, what you want to do is either find a way to do something better than someone else, or find your own unique way to do it. And what I was thinking I could 3d print these. And as I was printing the track pieces, I was like, why don’t I just build the full circuit? Why don’t I, you know, do the full layout. And I tried to pick something that I thought was easy and turned out to be a whole nother can of worms. But it just proved that you know, I’m willing to be dedicated to the project and stick it the whole way through. And I think that was the important prior just to find a project, dedicate your time to it, make sure it’s successful. And I was, you know, super ecstatic that you guys took notice, and you were able to kind of like, watch me as it as it progressed. So that was very exciting.
NW: Yeah, I think that’s, that’s cool on how you share everything on social media. So you can see how the project progresses and everything. And really, it’s like, I’m just kind of living vicariously through you in a way because as a child, my dream was to always, build my own working model roller coaster, but at that time, there was nothing out there like the internet was still just kind of beginning. I mean, there weren’t really even any good K’nex model coasters yet. It was just the original one that didn’t have ups up wheels.
MS: Well, because coaster dynamics didn’t exist yet. Yeah, absolutely. Like I was what 14, when Coaster Dynamix released the scorpion. And I was like, I want that thing. But I didn’t have the money for it. And I was a kid, and I didn’t know any better. So I was right there with you. I was like, I want to be involved. I want to do the models. I want to do something Coaster related. And it’s funny, because I think there’s like generations of people that go through, like, how do I make my mark? And this is like, my way. And I think you’re in the same boat. It’s like, you know, I see like, these cool projects, how do I, how do I, you know, make my mark. And I know, at least for your case, you have this awesome website that everyone goes to as a resource. And it’s amazing. And I just wanted to find my little niche to contribute. So I feel that I like to give back and I like to, or you bet, you made a great point. There’s not a lot of resources out there. Everything’s very secret, everything’s very proprietary. There’s a lot of intellectual, proprietary
property, and they don’t like to share it. And I like to be like the guys like, oh, coaster companies hate me, because he’ll just show you how to do it, or show you what they’re doing. And I started dabbling in it. But it takes time. And there’s no payoff. For me, there’s no reward financially. So I just do it out of the graciousness. And that’s why it’s slow. Whereas I like to venture and other things that are worth the time. But eventually, I’d like to show off more, because as there’s more people that understand and can get that leap ahead, then there’s more competition, more innovation, and it’s better for the coaster community. So that’s why I like to share it
without, you know, infringing on anyone’s, you know, IP.
NW: So that’s exactly what I was gonna say, too. But one of the things that we love about your your channels, is they, you don’t just sit on this information, you don’t just hoard the information yourself. As you share the information and give back to the community.
MS: That’s what I’m trying to do. And I’m trying to do that more, and it is slow. And the other tough thing is I gotta find a way to keep it entertaining. Like I’m sure you know, if it’s not entertaining, people won’t, you know, stay around. So I’m going to try to find more ways to do that. But it’s, that’s a long term goal. I haven’t done it yet. Right now, I’ve just kind of been like, Hey, if you have no limits data, this is how you get into a CAD software, then it’s up to you. But that’s already a leap where people are already getting nervous. And I don’t know what’s going on here. So I might have to dumb it down a bit. But I’m trying to.
NW: Cool. So I guess maybe let’s get into some specific projects. your first big one was the Invertigo coaster, right?
MS: Absolutely. Yes. Which I know you have an article and we don’t have to talk too much about that. But yeah, it’s a working model of Invertigo. It’s an inverted shuttle boomerang. And it fully functioned as the real ride. There’s a lot of challenges that went into that, I will let the listeners go check out your video, I don’t want to dwell too much on it if you don’t want to. But that was really what made the foundation of where I am today. And what grew into other projects.
NW: I will put in the show notes, the link to that article and the some of the videos as well. So after that project, what was the next major one you worked on after that?
MS: And this is probably where we kind of venture away from everything that you know, since the last interview. But I’m from that I wanted to get a picture of the model next to real right and at the time. And like this is like five years ago, I don’t know if there was like a PR person at Kings Island or not, I couldn’t find anyone. And the only person I really knew of at Cedar Fair, that was really outgoing was Tony Clark. So I reached out I said, Hey, I got this cool model. I just wanna get a picture of it next to Invertigo at Kings Island. Do you like have any contacts? And he goes, Hey, cool, this is great. We’ll hook you up. But would you like to make a model for our new ride? And remember, this is 2017. And what opened in 2018, will have steel vengeance. And so he says, Do you want to make a working model of this new ride? And I go, Yeah, who would say no, Only an idiot. So I actually as an idiot said, Yes. I would love to do it not understanding the amount of work and time that would go into a project like that.
NW: Yeah, I mean just the scale, steel vengeance is so much bigger than Invertigo.
MS: Absolutely. And that was the other thing too is we had a whole debate on the size of the model. And then once we settled on the size, I was like, Dude, this is still giant, like, ginormous. I was actually voting to make it bigger than what it was. And Tony, it’s your post saying, hey, we need to make this smaller, has to fit in a room. And I was like, but the physics like the way that from my experience with the very last like, I need to make it a certain scale otherwise, I don’t know what I’m doing. And there was a back and forth and we compromised on a scale which I wasn’t really comfortable with being at so it was a smaller scale. But I think you know, you would know seeing it in person it’s still huge and and it’s a much smaller scale and There’s a lot of other challenges that came with that. But I agreed and it was great.
NW: Wasn’t one of the limiting factors being able to fit it through the doorway?
MS: Yeah, so that was another whole thing because it was going to sit at the museum in frontier town at Cedar Point, I was thinking like, oh, there’s a there’s a garage door, you know, like, you know, retractable door, like, yeah, we’ll just, you know, throw it through the back? Well, when I was talking about transporting it, they said, Oh, by the way, there’s a wall on the other side of that door. So you can’t just like, move the model in through the loading dock. And I was like, Oh, that’s not good. So after some, you know, back and forth, we found out we had to move the model through the front door of the museum, which is no joke two double doors. And I was like, Oh, I didn’t design the tables to come apart. That way. We had to take the lift hill off, it was, I thought we were going to move that model into the museum in about two hours. And it almost took a full day. Just like taking parts apart moving in. And that was a challenge. The fact that, you know, we wanted to get it all done and complete before the ride even opened was a challenge. There was so many things that I had never dealt with, just you know, with invertigo, I knew stuff would take longer than usual. But the cool thing about the steel vendors project because I actually felt like a coaster manufacturer, I had to make sure this thing actually worked by the time it got there. And the cool thing is, everything went wrong. So I learned really fast, like, Okay, your model is not working, how do you entertain the park to make them happy? What do you like, we found very creative ways to make sure both parties were satisfied with what they were getting. Because think about this. If I was Cedar Point, I said I wanted a model, see if there’s still vengeance. And then your manufacturer said, Oh, it’s not going to work by this date. And you’re like, well, people are expecting or like, what are you gonna do? So we thought as creative things like I was like, Oh, well, I’ll come on the weekends. And people can watch me build it and ask me questions. So I became a living exhibit. And that was the solution to it not being done, which I actually think was even better than just throwing a model there. Because people were very curious about what I was doing. I had no problem interacting with people and asked, you know, answering questions. And I think it was actually more fun.
And I know we kind of chatted about, you know, just like to make the physics work I had to make like, the trains just weigh a ton. And we were talking about that. And it’s funny, because you talk about real coaster design, they don’t even think about the weight. And really boils down to the friction which in my case, I need to maintain the momentum to to eliminate that friction factor. So I had to learn on the fly a lot of things. And it was a whole nother experience of how not necessarily the engineering behind a project was but just like the the project management and interaction with the park, I learned a lot there. And that is priceless to me, because then I really understood what they were looking for. And you know how to, you know, make sure they’re happy with what they’re getting. So that was invaluable to me. And I really enjoyed that project. And right now, the model actually had to get moved around because they wanted to renovate the museum. It’s actually in the arcade and it’s a static model right now, we couldn’t get it to run reliably. But in my mind, even with all the hurdles, I think the project was a success for me because the park got a very cool model. It looks cool. It doesn’t work, which is you know what it is, but they got something that people were talking about. I got the recognition, at least in the coastal community to at least get people interested. RMC was interested coaster and AmEx was interested, a lot of other people are interested. And I got to meet interact with a lot of different people.
And actually from the steel ventures project. That’s actually how I got hooked up with Coaster Dynamix. And they said, would you design it like the model? And I said, Oh, SolidWorks and they we we do work in SolidWorks. And they asked me to do some freelance work for them remotely. And I absolutely said yes. And that’s kind of how I got my foot in the door there and that’s how that partnership cannot so all I’m saying is, even though the project had a lot of issues, and it didn’t go as planned, the actual end result was a net positive for myself Cedar Point and also other people within the industry. So I would just say to kind of put this all together as Cedar Point took a risk in me and I think the industry as a whole and seater plane and coaster and everything myself and every party involved there was there’s a net positive out of it even with all the issues we had, so to speak. So very positive experience and I really enjoyed it. And I actually think the Cedar Point for you know, just taking, you know, you know, putting their neck on the line just trusting a kid that was like I want to do this so that was cool.
NW: With Invertigo, you didn’t have any of the actual dimensions, you were just going off of picture?
MS: I was just Googling it. But then steel vengeance, you have the actual plans to work. Yeah. And that actually, I, it might be an excuse. But when we were talking when I was talking to Cedar Point, is back in October when we originally decided to do this, but I didn’t get anything to work off of until January. So like, there was three months of just waiting. Which that would have been three months I could have been working, I wouldn’t have been stressed out as much. And but the problem there is like, if a big corporation, they gotta go to the left hand and talking to the right hands, like I’m working the marketing guys, they gotta go to the engineering degree, if they go, Well, is he you know, did he sign an NDA? Is he going to disclose like, you know, there’s all the legal stuff. So by the time we got through all that finally got what, and I am a, I guess perfectionist in like the sense of I want it to look like the real thing. I’m not just gonna, like, throw together some pieces that look like it, I want to be legit. People were asking me how big is or how tall is the second hill, I took a ruler and said, divided by I think it was like 30 sevens is going one through seven, or is it one twice, I don’t remember the scales, I just don’t remember. But I was like you divided by that. That is that is the height because all I did is I took the original pledge, hit divided by whatever the scale was, I think it was 37. Let’s just use that. It divide by three, seven. And bam, I just designed right to it. So everything was to scale. And that’s why take pride in and I had a lot of people criticizing me saying it’s gonna be really hard to make a working model that’s like to scale, you’re gonna have to fudge some things. And I didn’t want to do that. And I think to this day that I could have gotten that model to work if I had more time. But the fact that I had a wait for them to go through all the legal and get all the documents in order. And that coupled with they just found me at the end of 2017. I think it’s the timing worked out better. It would have worked out better. And it probably is running right now. But I’m not gonna complain it it still worked out. And I think it was great. But yeah, I got to work with thee. That was a long story to say, Yeah, I got to work with the actual drawings and everything. It was great came straight from, I think RMC or ride centerline, one of those two.
NW: So when you say it doesn’t work, Does that just mean it just runs out of energy? Halfway through the course somewhere?
MS: It’ll Valley. So it all depends, too, because it depends on the day the train like it. Like the issue really boiled down to is I had a deadline, actually, I had many deadlines. And I was trying to meet these deadlines. And I would just I did it focus. And this is just me learning this, like I should just focus on making it work, not meeting this new deadline that just showed up. It was always like, hey, we want to make sure you know, it works by this date. And it’s like, I can’t, I can’t promise that. And I was like I want to try. But then I would try, which would result in me cutting corners, hastily putting stuff together, just being really inefficient, when really I should just took a step back because I were going to make this right the first time. And I did so many things just to try to be like, Oh, well, we’ll just wing it, which I shouldn’t have done, which I’ve learned. And I think that the human errors what bog down the successful, but yeah, it would Valley like there’s sometimes like it actually make it around. And I didn’t get any video of it, of course. But the sometimes that will give you the problem is anytime I do any inversion, there’ll be the friction on the wheels coupled with the way that the train was configured. There’s always issues and the fact that I actually retract it twice. So I’ve actually, I can officially say I’ve RMC’d an RMC which is really funny. So it originally had a laser cut acrylic track. And then we did laser cut aluminum, which runs so well. And I’m going to revisit that eventually. Because that like that’s the way to go if you want to make a working model. But again, as I said, hastily put it together. And the problem was when I did it the second time is I’m driving to the park on weekends. I have a day job, like professionally I work in automotive. And it’d be like you work all week, and then you drive three hours to a park, try some things that may or may not work, drive three hours back. And like by the time it’s like drive back and forth, taking your tool like you just get exhausted. The human aspect comes in where you’re just like, Dude, I just need to get out of this. And is it really worth it? You get all those questions. So after two years of that, and actually the first the first year when I was working at the park I was doing every weekend for the whole summer. So I was officially on site at Cedar Point every weekend in the summer trying to make this thing work and I was very dedicated because I wanted to make it work. And it’s just one of those You only do so much as one person.
NW: So it’s gonna remain a static model?
MS: Well, yeah. Yeah. So I and I’ve been close with the park, and they’ve been really cool with me. That kind of goes into the next story is I reached out to him. I said, this is like a, you know, it’s passionate project. And I don’t want to see it just sitting there. I want to make it work. So for the first year, I think that was 2019. So the model was debuted in 2018. When the right opened, I worked on for a year. And then the second year, I said, I talked to him, I was like, I was like, 2019 2020, sometime in there, maybe between the seasons. I was like, I want to come back and work on this for a while. At the same time, I was dabbling in these coaster cutouts, and Cedar Point of all Parks was really interested in them. So I got into like, almost a resource contest where it was like, do I go work on this model? Or do I work on these cutouts that the the merchandise department wanted. And so it was a funny conversation where I was like, I can’t dedicate any more time this model, we’re actually going to, you know, make your park money. Whereas this model is not making the park money, it is actually taking up space, and no one wants to really look at something that doesn’t work. So let’s dedicate my time to something that actually will be profitable for both the park and me. And so that’s where the cutouts came in. And, and Cedar Point, which I like to think, and they might have another opinion, but because we were so closely, you know, working together, like I was working with our merchandise department and Coaster Dynamix, and then we were developing coaster cutouts, and they jumped on it with the steel vengeance and Millennium force ones. They were the first to adopt it and really took a risk there. And it turned out very successful. And now, almost every park in North America has them. Not all of them. But it’s crazy. And they took a risk there. So I think you know, that was way more important than the model. And that’s kind of where that fizzled out. So there was agreement that will keep it static. Dedicate your energy here. And they got a lot of cool things. And I actually try to go above and beyond to make sure they get some cool things more so than other parts, but just because they invested in me, so I will give that back to them. Yeah.
NW: Was that the first project you collaborated with Coaster Dynamix, was the coastal cutouts. So no, actually it wasn’t. What? So you get into working with coastal dynamics?
MS: Yes. So if we take a step back from cutouts, when I was working on the Steel Vengeance model before I tried to get it done the first time. So this is, let’s say, still 2018 ish, a lot of people to notice. And that’s when Coaster Dynamix reached out to me and they said, you know, what, are you designing this model? And, and they were actually in conversation with me on Reddit, because I posted a couple pictures. And they said, you know, this isn’t gonna work, blah, blah, blah. And I was like, Nah, screw you. I’m gonna make it work. You watch. I guess they win in the end. But they said, you know, what, are you designing them? I was like, I’m using SolidWorks to design these. And they said, okay, cool. We design Nanos in SolidWorks. And actually, you can find an interview with Jack Reimer, he’s the owner, and he did an interview, I think it was ace, you know, talking and he goes into detail about, you know, how he met me. It’s the same story, they reached out and said, hey, you know, you’re doing all this cool modeling, can you you know, we have to do like 20 Nanos, for the 2019 season, can you help us out because they’re just swamped, like they have to do all sorts of stuff. They have so many projects going on, they have like CDX, Nano coasters, all sorts of stuff. And I was like, Yeah, sure. Just let me know. Like, I love roller coasters. And I’m really an enthusiast like everyone else, like, tell me what you need. So they gave me a list. And they’re like, alright, if you can do these in like the next six months before May, I think it was like November, he hit me up. He’s like, I mean, do these next, you know, 20 models in the next six months, just that’d be great. I did it all in like three weeks, because I was like, yeah, like, I just love this shit. Like, I was like, I was all about it. I was so excited. Let’s put it that way. I’m still excited.
NW: Did they give you procedures, like how to do it, or did you kind of figure out?
MS: okay, so the Yeah, so let me I so I did skip that. So he. So Jack had his Engineer Dan, Dan Linden. He met up with me, and we got on Skype. And he showed me the process. He’s like, this is how we do it. This is our guidelines. They told me what I needed to do to satisfy the criteria that coach dynamics, you know, had solidified over their years of developing the product. So yeah, they showed me exactly how to do it. And now let me jump back to where I was. I was like, Yeah, I’m like, so excited to geeked out that I just knocked them all out. And they’re like, Wow, you did these really fast and they look pretty good. So they actually asked me to continue doing them whenever
They were overloaded with work. And I think I don’t, I don’t keep track and I don’t. I don’t know if they do, but I think we’re at 150 Nanos. And I think I’ve done 82 of them. At least the last time I checked, it was like 82. I know I’ve done 82 of them. But I’ve done a lot of them. And I think I’ve done almost half is that half, that’s probably more than half.
NW: Do you have a favorite nanocoaster that you’ve made or most challenging?
MS: they love to give me the hard ones just because they know I’ll do it. Because I’m a coaster nut. Okay, I have a tie for my favorites. The cool thing is you can buy them both off the coaster dynamics website directly. So my two favorites are dueling dragons and Olympia looping. It’s an under my desk. But yeah, Dueling dragons and the Olympia Looping. Because they’re just two iconic coasters. You got the b&m dueling, and you got the classic Schwarzkopf European ride. Those were also both very
well, not very, but they’re difficult because they’re weaving in sight of each other. And they they had a lot going on. Those are my favorites. As far as like layouts and just wants to do, I have a lot of, you know, favorite ones. As far as stories go. As far as like, your your podcast, people will love this. And here’s some insider knowledge. So we try to match the layout as much as possible. And I just did a goof and I’ll let you guys know it so don’t get too mad. El Toro is a great ride. El Toro has awesome let Nano. But some of the people that are more enthusiastic than me and coasters have noticed that the drop is not the correct angle, which I am so bitter about because I was like we got to really close. But if you take a protractor and measure that, or measure that first drop, it is not what Roller Coaster DataBase says.
NW: Coaster nerds will notice.
MS: I know. I’m a coaster nerd too And I was like, yeah, like, it’s funny, because it is the problem with the park as, they don’t give you anything you think we get all the no, they do not give you any of them. They try to keep as much in house as possible. So we can only go off of what we you know, go in it. Here’s the thing. It’s like I never ridden the ride. I know, right? I wish I did. But I actually the references that we were allowed to use for that. I missed the mark. I think it’s like, a couple of degrees. It’s not even a lot. It’s it’s minimal. So that’s that’s a fun story. So I like that one because that’s my El Toro nano story.
NW: Yeah, it is an Easter egg.
MS: And if you get upset, come come blame me. Don’t blame coaster dynamix. They’re great. That was on me.
NW: So yeah, there’s a lot of “well, actually”, people you gotta get your facts, right.
MS: Oh, I know.
NW: But I know the questions you probably get a lot is like, do you pick which coasters to do? Or to like, do the parks come to you? Or can you go to the park saying like, I want to do this one?
MS: Great question. So when I was doing the Nanos, I had the same questions, as you just did. And I didn’t know that until I essentially develop the coaster cut out product line, essentially, long story short, the park is the customer they want the customer is always right. They always get what they want. The customer is what delegates what they get. So we can influence that we can suggest what they might want. But at the end of the day, they’re the ones that place the order.
NW: They choose what they think is going to sell.
MS: Exactly. The Long story short, is they tell us what to do. And there’s a lot oh my gosh, there’s so many Nanos, we would love to do, but if the park doesn’t want it, we don’t do it.
NW: Okay, so from from nano coasers then how did you transition into doing the coaster cutouts?
MS: Yeah, so I did maybe like 20 or 30 Nanos you know, once I you know, once you get your foot in the door and make you know a couple Nanos, you start like thinking like, oh, well, could you be like make a park while the Nanos go there? But the problem is, is like they don’t scale correctly between Nanos like I was trying to think of like all different ways to make cool merch for roller coasters, because I’m a geek, and I’m like thinking, you know, that David thought of all these already. Like, there’s like, oh, man that’s going down the rabbit hole. But I went back to just 3d printing models, not really working ones but I did an inverted B&M car that was really large. And the point of that project was just to get as much detail as possible. And the thing was huge. It was like 10 inches wide, eight inches.is tall and like three inches deep. Like it was huge. That was just a personal project. Like for fun. Yeah, it was just for fun. Just, you know…