Business Technology

Tuesday 25 June 2019

Wicklow startup aiming to make cheaper 3D printer

A startup founded by a Wicklow research engineer and a Forbes magazine 30 under 30 listee is aiming to reduce the cost of a specific type of 3D printer, which can be used to make tool parts, prosthetic body parts such as hands, as well as a variety of products and prototypes. Stock photo
A startup founded by a Wicklow research engineer and a Forbes magazine 30 under 30 listee is aiming to reduce the cost of a specific type of 3D printer, which can be used to make tool parts, prosthetic body parts such as hands, as well as a variety of products and prototypes. Stock photo

John Reynolds

A startup founded by a Wicklow research engineer and a Forbes magazine 30 under 30 listee is aiming to reduce the cost of a specific type of 3D printer, which can be used to make tool parts, prosthetic body parts such as hands, as well as a variety of products and prototypes.

The CALT Dynamics founder, Arklow native Ross Lawless, and fellow engineer Colin Keogh, along with Irene Villafane, a product design engineer who previously worked at UCD, have devised a way to simplify and lower the cost of 3D printing.

The process improves speed, precision and usability based on a method called high-precision stereolithography.

The team has begun work at a three-month Techstars accelerator programme - one of the world's most competitive - in the US for a manufacturing run in conjunction with tool manufacturers Stanley and Black & Decker.

They aim to then raise a seed round of funding after pitching at the end of the programme, and to manufacture the printers, potentially then creating four to eight new jobs initially and more later on if successful, Lawless said.

"A printer of this type currently could cost up to €3,000. Our aim is to sell one for no more than around the €1,000 mark. The first one will be small - desktop size. It will run on batteries, and wouldn't need software so could be used easily in less-developed countries. Our approach is very unique," he added.

"These printers can make prosthetic body parts quickly and cheaply for people with disabilities. With the right materials they can also be used to make small tools or replacement tool components, such as a socket for a socket wrench set," Lawless said.

He and Keogh previously built bespoke 3D printers, while Lawless also worked on software for them for industrial technology firm Zeiss. His team shares an interest in socially useful technologies, as well as vertical farming and virtual reality, and previously gave a workshop about them for the AirAsia airline.

Sunday Indo Business

Also in Business