Mark Dill of ExtrusionBot has the sort of problem all entrepreneurs lust after – serious buzz surrounding his product. His original Kickstarter campaign, which began with the modest goal of raising $10,000, has already drummed up more than six times that amount, and Dill hopes to reach a total of $100,000 before the drive ends in less than three days.
According to Dill, he's on track to do that by ensuring his supply chain is in order and by lining up a list of multiple vendors for each of the various outsourced parts required to build an ExtrusionBot. "I'll be releasing another stretch goal late tomorrow – a big one – 100k," Dill said. "It's a big goal, but the rewards to all of my backers will be just as big. There will be multiple rewards to the backers when we hit this goal."
If you have a 3D printer, you're painfully aware of one major drawback to creating – you have to feed the beast.
Dill's ExtrusionBot (what he calls the "fastest, home-built filament extruder") is aimed at giving home users access to high-quality filament at significant savings – and creating that filament at startling speed. Dill says the ExtrusionBot can produce and spool filament at a rate of ±3 ft per minute at 3mm or 1.75 mm and maintain tolerances of better than ±0.10 mm. According to Dill, his device isn't just fast, it goes about its task with nary a hum. The ExtrusionBot tools along while creating noise levels around 45 decibels. To give you some idea how much noise that actually is, the average ambient noise you experience in your city at any given moment is somewhere around 40 decibels.
The ExtrusionBot works with ABS and PLA materials – the most common 3D printing fodder – but Dill and his team are experimenting with Nylon powder and various metals with an eye toward expanding the bot's capabilities down the road.
The current machine uses those standard ABS and PLA raw materials in the form of pellets, and it's the ability to spool them in filament form for 3D printing which can dramatically cut labor and costs. It also comes with a detachable pellet hopper.
Dill says 3D printer users looking for a way to recycle failed prints and make use of leftover support structures are his target market as well, but don't expect those sorts of bells and whistles in the first run of deliveries from the Kickstarter campaign. Dill is taking a cautious, measured approach to his plans for the initial run of his product.
"I want to be one of the first to get the product out to my backers on time. We've had lots of suggestions for additional functions, but those will come with the next versions," Dill said. "I've assured my backers our first priority before any of those add-ons are complete is to get all of our backers rewards to them on time – or before."
Dill's team are hardly neophytes. Boasting more than 40 combined years of experience in various fields such as electronics, semiconductors, and manufacturing, ExtrusionBot is the result of eight months of development and a number of design iterations.
So what about those suggestions and ideas for the next version of the ExtrusionBot? "We (plan to include) a lot of add on designs like a low pellet detection sensor and a full spool warning system, an injection molding attachment, and a 'plastic reclaimer' to take waste plastic from old prints and certain consumer plastic bottles, and turn it into re-useable plastic that can be run through our machine," Dill said. "But our commitment at this point is making sure our backers are satisfied."