YOUNG START: Mackay entrepreneur Thomas Stolberg, 15, alongside a 3D printer he helped make at Split Spaces. He has been nominated as a semi-finalist for the Regional Achiever Award.
YOUNG START: Mackay entrepreneur Thomas Stolberg, 15, alongside a 3D printer he helped make at Split Spaces. He has been nominated as a semi-finalist for the Regional Achiever Award. Nick Wright

Teen 3D printing his way into a recycled future

IN SPITE of his tender age, a rising Mackay entrepreneur is gearing up to revolutionise the construction landscape.

At just 15, Thomas Stolberg has made a name for himself, having been nominated as a semi-finalist for the Regional Achiever awards.

After buying his first 3D printer, he began visualising the way in which products and recycled material could be used to create an array of constructions, such as playgroundsart sculptures and marine products.

"A big part of my business is enabling other people to promote and further develop their business by giving them these tools," Thomas said.

"Although it might sound counter-intuitive to my business, it's all about being innovative and being in front of the curve...that's how I distinguish myself from anyone with a 3D printer.

"It's bringing the small scale of 3D printing to tackle the big issue of recycling."

Thomas's pursuits had him land in the US where he toured Google and Tesla, absorbing information as his business ideas began to loom as a reality.

His exploits have been recognised far and wide, with him winning the Young Starters competition last year, as the youngest participant.

Praising the support he has received from family, friends and mentors, Thomas said the large-scale adaptation of the use of recycled plastic was what set his business apart.

"Plastic doesn't rust and is very tough, so it supports other industries like mining where corrosive environments are present," he said.

"Plastic is a good alternative that in large scale hasn't really been explored.

"Recycling plastic is a good alternative, it's good for the environment and no one likes pollution.

"But in itself it's such a unique material but it's often only used on a very small scale, particularly in a 3D sense."

Thomas is one of three Whitsunday Anglican School students to be nominated for the Regional Achiever Award semi-finals.

Project Sk8 Parks founders Ethan Laval and Flynn Bushell have been nominated for their hard work and persistence in making the Sugar Bowl Skatepark a reality for Mackay.

Thomas implored prospective young innovators to continue exploring their ideas, and said the successes of his peers was a testament to the Mackay community.

"I was very surprised and joyful (and) I encourage many young kids if you have an idea or a thought, give it a go," he said. "It's a credit to the Mackay region, out of the whole of Queensland we managed to get three finalists and it just goes to show Mackay has a lot more to offer than meets the eye."