Tuesday, November 5, 2013

New Startup Aims to be the Apple of 3D Printers and Software

The Buccaneer printer from Pirate 3D has a familiar look
Everyone thinks they know, or at least can bluff their way through a cocktail party conversation and pretend they know, about the upcoming tech wave of 3D printing. Now Pirate 3D, a Kickstartered project from Singapore, is simplifying the concept, product, and process with the aim of being the Apple of 3D printing.  

Their new printer will soon be available online and in retail stores of a few tech-heavy US cities, and bears a familiar "Cupertino-style" look of white, silver, clean lines and utter simplicity.  And the company's bundled hardware brings users simple templates of various types of objects that can be easy starting points to customize into an array of projects.

Hunter Communications Original News Source:
The New York Times

Link to article:

Excerpt: "Pirate3D gained a lot of notice in June when it raised a lot of money on Kickstarter. The company is making an inexpensive 3-D printer for the consumer market; early models will probably ship in December, executives say.

Although the product was initially expected to sell only online, Roger Chang, the company’s co-founder, said versions would also be available in a few retail outlets, probably in two or three United States cities, early next year. Pirate3D will also show the printer at CES, the big consumer electronics show in Las Vegas this January.

'It’s important that people see it,' said Mr. Chang, who is also the company’s chief executive. The long-term goal, he said, is to be 'the Apple of 3-D printers,' with a tightly coupled hardware and software business.

In both line and color, the latest versions of the machine do look like something from Cupertino — heavy on the 'look,' no saying yet how it works.

Initially priced at $347, the printer is likely to cost as much as $700 in stores this winter, and about $500 online. Mr. Chang, who has recently been in the United States for discussions with retailers, wouldn’t say which retailer would carry the product, but said the retail sales will be limited to a couple of large American cities with a big tech presence.

The higher prices for the machines are associated with delivering printed objects with a resolution as fine as 85 microns, about one three-hundredths of an inch. That is better than current printers on the market for more money.

Pirate3D also hopes to profit by creating ways for independent developers to sell designs and related software for 3-D printing. The company is working on a series of templates, like a generic bottle shape, that a person can download to a touch-enabled smartphone or tablet, where the image can be stretched or compressed to suit an individual. The phone can then send that personalized design to the printer. The designs will be free, as part of a campaign to inspire a bigger business, and the company hopes to initially offer a hundred of them.

'People don’t realize that we’re only 50 percent a hardware company,' Mr. Chang said. 'We keep coming back to the early days of PCs. It starts with a basic machine like the Altair, and eventually there is a Mac. When there are enough machines out there, developers will come out with enough things to make it a tool, not a toy.' "

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