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Crowdfunding Loves 3D Printing

October 27, 2013

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing — Terry Wohlers @ 05:54

Note: The following was authored by Tim Caffrey, associate consultant at Wohlers Associates

3D printer startup companies have enjoyed remarkable success with crowdfunding. No fewer than 40 different campaigns are in progress or have been completed, involving Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and other crowdfunding platforms. In fact, five of the top 15 technology funding campaigns on Kickstarter are for 3D printers.

Pledges range from about $5,000 up to nearly $3 million—the amount Formlabs raised on Kickstarter for its Form 1 printer. For most of these projects, the total amounts pledged far exceed the fundraising goals. Formlabs’ goal in its October 2012 campaign was $100,000, yet individuals pledged almost 30 times that amount.

The vast majority of personal 3D printers ($5,000 or less) are material extrusion systems, although two recent projects are for new vat photopolymerization systems. The Peachy printer is a small system with a target list price of $100. Inventor Rylan Grayston set a goal of $50,000 and raised $651,091 on Kickstarter. The fund-raising campaign for LumiFold, a foldable, portable vat photopolymerization printer, has raised 10 times its goal of $1,500. Other 3D printer projects currently raising funds include Aleph Objects’ LulzBot TAZ, Hyrel 3D, and QU-BD.

The interest and level of commitment from the crowdfunding community underscores the popularity and excitement around 3D printing. And, even though a percentage of these startups may fail, we see how two relatively new phenomena—crowdfunding and low-cost 3D printing—are working in tandem to “democratize” product development and manufacturing.