3D Printing Has Never Been More Accessible
Introducing Gigabot X: A large-scale, direct pellet extrusion 3D printer for the big dreamers.
With a build volume, price point, and quality you have come to expect from Gigabot 3+, we invite you to a new frontier of sustainable & locally- driven manufacturing. Designed to directly accept recycled, pelletized plastic, Gigabot X reduces dependence on extruded plastic, and is our first step at creating a truly affordable, large-scale 3D printer that can print using recyclables.
Why Make an Affordable Pellet Printer?
When we launched the first-generation Gigabot for big dreamers back in 2013, our big dream was to ultimately create a 3D printer that could print using plastic trash. Over the last five years we've kept our sights trained on this dream. We've determined that the first step in this direction is to focus on direct pellet extrusion -- melting small chunks of plastic instead of extruded filament for the input material.
Aside from being a big step in the direction of 3D printing directly from recyclables, there are some major benefits that come from printing with pellets. It eliminates the need for extruded plastic filament, which tends to be about 10x more expensive than pelletized plastic. Direct pellet extrusion also allows for faster printing -- we're currently experimenting with print times up to 17x faster than the filament-fed Gigabot.
And while pellet printers are currently commercially available, they typically are used in larger manufacturing systems and are cost-prohibitive to many potential users. Our goal, much like with the first-generation Gigabot, is to increase 3D printer accessibility and bridge the gap between cost and scale by creating an affordable, large-scale pellet printer.
Using the $225,000+ we won last year in global pitch competitions, our engineers in Houston have created Gigabot X: a prototype 3D printer to directly accept pelletized plastic, including recycled pellets.
We quickly learned in testing, user interviews, and research that in order to truly enable a user to transform a piece of plastic trash into an effective input material, we have to also design a low cost dryer, grinder, and feeder system to accompany Gigabot X.
We are ready to recruit beta users like you to test Gigabot X and to collaborate on future engineering initiatives to someday soon enable 3D printing directly from ground-up plastic.
We can’t wait to work with you as we re:volutionize manufacturing together in 2018!
How it works
Rather than using filament, this miniaturized direct drive system accepts pelletized plastic that is pulled down from a hopper, pushed through a heated barrel, and extruded though a small nozzle. Our engineers have been collaborating with global makers to perfect our prototype and identify necessary features of the extrusion system.
Where are we now?
We started by evaluating current work in this domain and then began moving through a series of prototypes, gleaning lessons from each failed iteration. You can see our insights that led to our current prototype's development on our GitHub here.
Our work to date has been filled with a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and giggles. Below is a visual history of the our adventures pioneering an extruder system worthy of your respect.
What’s in it for you?
Fulfilling dream to 3D print directly from waste could only happen with the generous support of early adopters like yourselves.
Below are some of the goodies and highly-discounted product you will receive from being the first to back Gigabot X.
We're so honored to have received the $1M WeWork Global Creator Award as well as an NSF SBIR Phase 1 grant to fund our work to date. The capital has been immensely helpful and has enabled us to purchase the equipment and materials to bring our Gigabot X prototype to life. We're also fortunate to have moved last year to a new 7,000 sq ft factory in Houston, affording us the space to both produce Gigabots and prototype Gigabot X. We're currently making space for Gigabot X fabrication and have posted job openings on our careers page for additional teammates to support production. In anticipation of a successful campaign, our Ops and Engineering teams are making schedules. Below are the major milestones we are working towards:
Now: Continue testing the Gigabot X prototype with new pellet materials. Develop Simplify3D software profiles for these materials, enabling users to select a material type from a drop-down menu and have print settings populate automatically. Continue to engage and collaborate with the open-source community.
April: Kickstarter closes. Hats & flight patches ship. Virtual and in-person meetups to score more insights begin. Two more Gigabot X prototypes using SXSW and campaign feedback are built. These units are shipped to our Austin and Puerto Rican offices for community testing.
May- June: Hangouts continue with extensive testing in Texas and San Juan. Designs are finalized. Pellet head and printer parts are machined. Packaging and shipping protocols are developed.
July-Aug: Instruction manuals and videos are developed and tested on friends and family (technical and non-technical people alike) in Houston. Gigabot X printers assembled.
Sept: Instruction manuals are refined. Gigabot X printers are built.
Oct: Gigabot X printers go through extensive testing. Gigabot X conversion kits are sent to current Gigabot owners.
Nov: Gigabot X ships to the world's first users!
Thanks to your support, we released our first product, Gigabot, at SXSW in 2013 by launching on Kickstarter. Since then, we have been honored to learn from the feedback of our backers, and have participated in accelerators such as Startup Chile, Unreasonable Impact, Parallel 18, Bunker Labs, the Atlanta Bridge Community, and upcoming inaugural Mass Challenge Texas. Bootstrapping a hardware company has been incredibly humbling, and supporting R&D from this project has been contingent on the $225,000+ in business prize competitions we received last year. We are also thrilled to have WeWork & NSF as partners after winning both the $1M Global Creator Award and the National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research Program Phase I (SBIR) grant last month.
As Gigabot X heralds in a new generation of large-scale, accessible, and hand-crafted 3D printers, we feel it is only fitting that you, and the Kickstarter community are notified first. We're so excited to embark on this next journey with you.
Risks and challenges
Over the last 5 years, we've faced the same risks as when we first launched, and encounter the challenges of being a bootstrapped startup daily. We've learned many a valuable lesson from past mistakes made, and we strive to continually grow and provide our customers with an ever-improving product.
As we've learned from our past two Kickstarter campaigns, the most likely risk is that prize deliveries are delayed. To avoid potential of production delays due to an unexpected part shortage or a late supplier delivery (lessons learned from the last two campaigns), we are currently procuring inventories of all parts in advance of this Kickstarter campaign launch.
In addition, as a beta stage prototype, Gigabot X's functionality and design will be continually improved and iterated over the course of the next several months. As such, we can't be sure about the printer's final performance metrics and specifications at this time. Finally, the utility of Gigabot X's printable output is inherently dependent on the screw design we ship. Thus, it may not be suitable for all intended uses. re:3D is currently working on improving the versatility of Gigabot X, so stay tuned for announcements.
What we can promise is to provide you with consistent, open communication, and a commitment to innovation and technological improvements, all made possible through the cooperation and support of the Kickstarter community. We couldn't do it without you!
Learn about accountability on Kickstarter