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This Startup Wants Industrial 3D Printing to be Affordable in the Developing World

Ann R. Thryft

October 29, 2015

3 Min Read
This Startup Wants Industrial 3D Printing to be Affordable in the Developing World

The world of 3D printer makers continues to expand and change. re:3D, a local company at last week's Design & Manufacturing Texas show in Houston, is making cost-effective large format industrial printers, introducing 3D printing to emerging markets around the globe, investigating materials recycling to cut back on waste, and apparently having a lot of fun along the way.

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Samantha Snabes, one of re:3D's co-founders, gave a Center Stage presentation that outlined the company's history, products, and current efforts. re:3D was started in 2013 by a group that includes robotics engineers from NASA Johnson Space Center, "a repeat entrepreneur CEO," and various domain experts in 3D printing, design, finance, and entrepreneurship. The company began with a Kickstarter campaign for its initial product, Gigabot, which closed 48 hours later with about six times the requested funds. re:3D is based in Austin, Tex., and has manufacturing and assembly facilities in Houston.

In this video, you can watch a time-lapse of the Gigabot printer constructing a prosthetic foot and lower leg:



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With an 8 cubic foot build volume - 23.2 x 24 x 24 in. - and 100-micron resolution, the fused filament Gigabot can print any thermoplastics compatible with temperatures up to 350C. A DIY parts kit costs $8,550, or you can buy a couple of assembled versions starting at $10,950. The company is also working on the next model, dubbed the Tetrabot, said Snabes.

The company has a global online marketplace, and gives away one printer for every 100 delivered, said Snabes. That was part of the founders' original dream: to introduce 3D printing to untapped emerging markets in the developing world. To date, re:3D has sold over 250 units to over 35 countries worldwide. Customers include engineers, designers, specialty manufacturers, universities, and hobbyists.

Snabes said re:3D is investigating alternate materials and has done materials research both in-house and in partnership with the University of Texas. It is also working to achieve alternative feedstocks from reclaimed plastics. The company is exploring a number of vertical markets, including prosthetics and health care, specialty industrial manufacturing, education, and consumer applications. Examples include car bumpers, robot enclosures, and architectural models.


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Ann R. Thryft is senior technology editor, materials & assembly, for Design News. She's been writing about manufacturing- and electronics-related technologies for 27 years, covering manufacturing materials & processes, alternative energy, and robotics. In the past, she's also written about machine vision and all kinds of communications.

About the Author(s)

Ann R. Thryft

Ann R. Thryft has written about manufacturing- and electronics-related technologies for Design News, EE Times, Test & Measurement World, EDN, RTC Magazine, COTS Journal, Nikkei Electronics Asia, Computer Design, and Electronic Buyers' News (EBN). She's introduced readers to several emerging trends: industrial cybersecurity for operational technology, industrial-strength metals 3D printing, RFID, software-defined radio, early mobile phone architectures, open network server and switch/router architectures, and set-top box system design. At EBN Ann won two independently judged Editorial Excellence awards for Best Technology Feature. She holds a BA in Cultural Anthropology from Stanford University and a Certified Business Communicator certificate from the Business Marketing Association (formerly B/PAA).

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