Tech prophets like Chris Anderson have proclaimed that we are on a cusp of a maker revolution — where affordable, mass market 3D printers would soon land in the homes of you and I, allow consumers to create objects at home instead of purchasing them at a shop.
While I’m not sure if it will happen, Red Dot Ventures, a Singapore-based seed and early stage fund, is betting on it. The TIS incubator has sunk SGD 589K (USD482K) into Pirate3DP, a Singapore startup that aims to commercialize and build a 3D printer for the masses.
“The draw of this technology is that now everyone can make anything, right in his living room,” said Leslie Loh, managing director of Red Dot Ventures, “3D printing is going to make a dent in the universe, and we are happy to support a local startup and be part in this technology revolution.”
3D printing, also called rapid prototyping, has been in use by design and architectural firms for a while. Yet a number of startups around the world, like Makerbot, Cubify, and PP3DP are now trying to bring the cost down while making it efficient and user-friendly enough.
Most of these companies are based in the United States though, making Pirate3DP perhaps one of the first to be based out of Asia. It is currently prototyping its flagship product, the Buccaneer, which will be launched in mid 2013, provided there are no delays.
The startup was founded by Roger Chang, Brendan Goh, Tsang You Jun, and Prof Neo Kok Beng. Roger, Brendan, and Tsang are childhood friends who have just graduated from university — Roger from NUS Business School, Goh and Tsang from NTU School of Materials Science & Engineering — while Prof Neo is a serial technopreneur who lectures at NUS.
While techno-optimists have painted a rosy picture about the future of the maker movement, Pirate3DP will have to strike a balance between idealism and market realities.
Geeks in Asia are well aware of the technology’s potential, but it might take years for the concept of 3D printing to filter down to the masses. But if and when the trend does catch on, Pirate3DP could very well be among the leading players.
“In a near future, everyone will have a 3D printer in their home sitting next to their paper printer and making plastic jewellery, kitchen utensils, toys, models, homework projects and non-critical replacement parts.” says Roger, CEO of Pirate3DP.