Published On: Sat, Apr 18th, 2015

Crowdfunding Makes Manufacturing More Accessible

Startups and established companies now use Kickstarter and similar crowdfunding websites to fund new projects. Generally, the fundraiser sets a target and asks people to put whatever amount they want toward it, usually for a reward. If the goal is reached, they get to keep the money; if not, it’s returned to the investors. You can use crowdfunding to finance anything. Projects range from creative works, including albums, novels and movies, to commercial products across a wide range of industries. This relatively new practice doesn’t work out for some. But for the lucky few it’s an efficient and effective way of raising money for a new venture. In a time when it can be a struggle to find official investors, asking for it from potential customers often seems to be the best way to go.

3D Printer at the Fab Lab

It’s no surprise to see products from every industry seeking funding on crowdfunding sites. One of the things that many product designers have been trying to achieve over the last couple of years is an affordable 3D printer. But this trend is beginning to develop now to target the same audience of people who enjoy making things with other machines, such as CNC mills. It’s for this reason that manufacturers are developing and aiming to sell machines that combine several different functions. Businesses and hobbyists can own space-saving devices for their purposes.

One of these machines is the Stepcraft 2, which combines a 3D printer, CNC machine, laser engraver, hot wire cutting and more. It has 40 refinements from the company’s first machine and also include many tool heads to use. Anyone who enjoys doing DIY projects at home will find plenty of use for the machine. But it’s also perfect for small business, schools and other institutions. Another similar project, which is also on Kickstarter, is the BoXZY. It also combines a 3D printer, CNC mill and laser engraver.

These desktop-sized devices make it possible to work on smaller projects at home. But they aren’t a replacement for companies like Central Machine CNC Machine Shop. These professional services have the space to tackle larger projects. Most people wouldn’t have the money and space to carry them out at home. Large businesses and people who often need large quantities of work completed aren’t likely to use a desktop 3-in-1 machine to get what they need. But products like Stepcraft 2 won’t be replacing professional companies. They will only be allowing people to do things they wouldn’t have done before. For example, the different sizes of the Stepcraft are available with a workspace of up to 600 x 840 x 140mm. This gives people plenty of room to work with.

With several all-in-one machines for home and small business use in development, it looks like there could be stiff competition in the industry. But when it comes to crowdfunding, there isn’t a limit on investors or funds available, just as long as your idea has an excellent pitch. It’s up to the manufacturers to convince people they should invest, and perhaps even buy in advance.