15 June 2007

A Visit to Desktop Factory

Last Monday I had the pleasure of visiting Desktop Factory, a startup in Pasadena California that is building a new 3D Printer. Desktop Factory was an initiative of Idealab, which starts and incubates innovative companies.

We've been talking with Desktop Factory for more than a year about becoming an early adopter of their technology, and we've been waiting anxiously as they've pushed on through a number of technical challenges. One thing that I find very exciting about their approach is that they are trying to create the first 3D Printer that's practical not just for design and engineering companies and colleges, but also for secondary schools and even serious hobbyists. They have announced that their printer will sell for $4995, and their business plan calls for sub-$1000 printers in just a few years. Just as importantly, they are committed to holding down the cost of the materials - they anticipate that this will run about $1 per cubic inch, which is less than 25% of previous 3D printers.

CEO Cathy Lewis, shown here speaking with 2 Art Center students, is an articulate and persuasive representative for Desktop Factory's vision. We had a fascinating discussion about the challenges of creating a startup that's trying to develop a new product category that few people understand - this has created really tough challenges for obtaining the funding that they need to create the product, but she is working tirelessly to find the right partners to help Desktop Factory achieve their vision.

In subsequent posts I'll take you through the plant, show you what their current generation of machines looks like, and give a peek at some of the parts they've built. If you want a preview, take a look at my Flickr page.

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