A group of MIT researchers making the first affordable, laser-equipped 3D printer have raised $2.8 milion dollars on Kickstarter.That’s a new record for a tech project on the crowdfunding site, beating the previous record of $2.4 milion held by Oculus Rift, a virtual-reality headset.
The researchers call their company Formlabs. They started the Kickstarter project to bring Form 1, their 3D printer, into production. The prototype has already been built. They were hoping to raise $100,000 from Kickstarter supporters, who chip in various amounts in exchange for either recognition or early access to the product.
3D printing is a new form of manufacturing that lets you build complete products, layer by layer, similar to how inkjet printers lay down colours on a piece of paper, but in three dimensions.
There’s lots of competition to build affordable 3D printers. You can buy a MakerBot right now for about $2,200. But what’s making people go gaga for Form 1 is its novel technology.
Form 1 uses stereolithography, relying on a laser to form really thin layers. That’s the most accurate method for 3D printing. Until now, it needed expensive, high-end optical technology, making the printers cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Form 1 hasn’t announced its retail pricing yet, but presumably it will be in line with MakerBot, since the entry level to get one through Kickstarter is a pledge of $$2,299. That level is sold out, by the way, although there are still some packages at the $2,699 level available. You’ll need to hurry if you want in on that. The Kickstarter project ends tomorrow at 8:45 Eastern.
Formlabs expects to deliver its first batch of Form 1 printer to its sponsors by February.