Structur3D Printing, a Kitchener, Ont.-based company that makes a 3D printer extruder head, which allows users to print paste materials like cake icing, hit its Kickstarter campaign goal of $30,000 in less than 24 hours.
"We launched late last night and we tried to do it in stealth mode, but apparently we had a lot of people watching us, waiting for our launch, so they jumped on it as soon as we had the page live," said Charles Mire, co-founder of Structur3D Printing.
"Nobody's been able to successfully put a paste extruder product on the market, especially one that has printed the variety of materials that we've printed," he said.
The device, called the Discov3ry Extruder, can attach to filament-based desktop 3D printers, and lets users print with soft materials like wood filler, silicone, clay and even Nutella.
"Other people have attempted to put a paste extruder-type of product on the market and there have always been some limitations, either the volume of the cartridges, so you could only print something very small, or you had to do a very in-depth cleaning of the system in between uses," said Mire.
"Our system is designed so you can switch between materials, say silicone and the cake icing very quickly, with minimal cleanup and no contamination between the materials," he said.
Soft materials self-contained
Mire explained that materials are self-contained in the cartridges, which are syringes with tubing attached and a printing tip. To switch between wood filler and icing, for example, the syringe, tubing and tip are swapped out.
The first batch of extruders, priced at $249 on Kickstarter, are already sold-out.
"Those are going to ship around the September time frame. Then the next batch will ship the next month, and then the next batch the following month, with the final batches going out around the December-January time frame," said Mire.
"We plan to manufacture them in Canada, and a lot of it depends also on the volumes. If we start to hit say, the million-dollar mark with our Kickstarter campaign, we may have to move some of the manufacturing overseas, but by and large the production's going to be here in Canada," said Mire.
In mid-May, Mire and Structur3d Printing showed off prototypes of the extruder at the Bay Area Maker Faire in San Francisco. Maker Faires are showcases for inventors, hobbyists and tech types, who experiment with news way to make things from 3D printing to crafting. Mire says his company's appearance there helped boost interest in the extruder.