3-D Printers Take Over Kickstarter

Andrew White, special to Nvate

Crowdfunding platforms are where dreams become realities, and users appear to be dreaming about 3-D printers. A recent wave of 3-D-printer campaigns on Kickstarter have consumers itching for an affordable device that delivers tangible objects from computers. A Kickstarter-backed printer just received more than $1.4 million in preorders, and a current Kickstarter printer has raced well past its goal.

Nvate Kickstarter Crowdfunded 3-D printers by Form 1, Buccaneer, Rigidbot, OpenBeam

These are the pieces to a 3-D printed gun. Credit: Creative Commons by alexpb

These futuristic devices seemingly have limitless possibilities. Ads for the new Form 1 printer depict sculptures of the Eiffel Tower, plastic chess pieces and miniature statues. Other 3-D printers have manufactured operational handguns. Clearly, this is an early chapter for 3-D printers, and Kickstarter is an influential author.

Form 1 3-D Printer Hits the Shelves

The Form 1 3-D Printer was one of the first of its kind backed on Kickstarter, raising almost $3 million in October 2012—the goal was $100,00. Form 1 sold $1.4 million in preorders the week after the campaign ended, according to Techcrunch.com. The Form 1 uses a laser to slice layers of an object until it is fully formed. Because it cuts through layers of resin, the Form 1 is able to achieve more precision and a better result. When it’s released in October, it will be one of the best consumer 3-D printers on the market and cost $3,299. 3-D-printing advocates believe that’s a small price to pay for the one of the most exciting innovations in recent memory.

Buccaneer is Next

It’s tough to keep a secret on Kickstarter. After Form 1’s success, it didn’t take long for fellow developers to seek similar returns. The Buccaneer 3-D printer recently wrapped up its Kickstarter campaign, raising $1.4 million, also with a goal of $100,000. What’s notable about the Buccaneer is its low price point. At $347, it’s exponentially cheaper than most 3-D printers. Developer Pirate 3-D notes that the Buccaneer printer is just a first step in its goal.

“This is merely a small foothold toward what we are trying to achieve,” the company wrote on its Kickstarter campaign page.

3-D Printer Concerns

This revolutionary technology opens the door for a whole new world of products, but it doesn’t come without concerns. A video released earlier this year depicted a 3-D-printed gun firing real ammunition. Do it yourself security is the wave of the future, according to SecurityCompanies.com, and 3-D printed guns would be the ultimate do it yourself defense measure. If 3-D printers become easily accessible, it poses an obvious risk that dangerous people could use them to mass produce weapons.

Forbes noted that 3-D-printed guns still have a long way to go. Most 3-D printers use plastic, which isn’t the most conducive to firing bullets. These guys probably won’t be able to compete with traditional weapons in terms of accuracy and reliability for some time.

Additional Projects

Still, the surge in crowdfunded 3-D printers continues. Along with the Buccaneer and the Form 1, developers Rigidbot and OpenBeam also successfully funded their 3-D printing projects on Kickstarter. Expect to see more innovative 3-D printer designs coming through the Kickstarter pipeline. This fast-growing industry has only just begun, and consumers will take advantage of this new outlet for tangible goods.

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