Design News is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

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

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.

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:

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.

Image Map

Design News will be in Minneapolis and Orlando in November! Design & Manufacturing Minneapolis will take place Nov. 4-5, while Design & Manufacturing South will be in Orlando Nov. 18-19. Get up close with the latest design and manufacturing technologies, meet qualified suppliers for your applications, and expand your network. Learn from experts at educational conferences and specialty events. Register today for our premier industry showcases in Minneapolis and Orlando

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.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.