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3-D Printing Could Get Even Cooler


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3doodler

3-D printing—when a product is created layer by layer—may be the coolest disruptive technology around for some, but the technology has had its fair share of controversial headlines after the manufacture of firearms and claims that it could give people cancer.

But one tech startup is hoping to put the fun back into stereolithography, allowing users to draw in the air.

3Doodler is a new 3-D printing pen you can hold in your hand to draw upwards. The company says you can literally “lift your imagination off the page.” It’s due for release in the next two weeks and will be priced at $99.

“Our orders are currently going out globally to almost 30,000 people, and our backers come from all over the world,” a spokesperson for the company told CNBC.

Using the same plastic used by many 3-D printers, the pen draws heats and extrudes the material, which quickly cools and solidifies into a strong, stable structure. You can create simplistic patterns or bigger objects like mock-ups of the Eiffel Tower.

The new device certainly created buzz at the 2013 IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin) Trade Fair. But online it has received major backing.

After originally asking for just $30,000 back in February on crowdfunding site Kickstarter, the company managed to raise a staggering $2.4 million in 34 days—7,813 percent of its initial goal.

“The idea for 3Doodler actually came from 3-D printing on a ‘traditional’ 3-D printer and it made a mistake,” the company told CNBC.

“The wish was to just reach out, fix the mistake, and then let it continue printing. It was this thought that we realized we actually could make it into a pen!”

Analysts at financial services firm ConvergEx have recently investigated the rising popularity of crowdfunding, which is the collective effort of individuals to network online and pool their money behind a project.

Popular crowdfunding website Kickstarter had more than 2.24 million people pledge money in 2012, a 134 percent increase from the year before. A total of $319,786,629 was raised (a 221 percent jump from 2011) and successfully funded 18,109 projects.

Crowdfunding manages to minimize a significant barrier of high startup costs and also enhances the likelihood for disruptive technologies to find early-adopter customers, ConvergEx said.

The latest, greatest craze is undoubtedly 3-D printing, it said, adding that six of the top 13 “most funded” projects on Kickstarter are 3-D printers of some variety, including 3Doodler.

3-D printing—creating three-dimensional solid objects from digital models—is gathering momentum and transforming everything from medicine to home goods. Printers that once cost $30,000 are now priced closer to $1,000 and have the potential to rewrite the rules of global manufacturing.

The market for 3-D printing was estimated at about $1.7 billion in 2011 and could hit $6.5 billion by 2019, according to research firm Wohlers Associates.

Reprinted by permission.

Image Credit: 3Doodler

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About the author: Matt Clinch

Matt Clinch is an assistant producer at CNBC.com.

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