It appears that construction 3D printer manufacturer Cazza may have disappeared.
Cazza first appeared in 2017, having been founded in 2016, with the intention of producing a mobile construction 3D printing robot. The image at top shows their concept.
If you can imagine this device in operation, it would be precisely depositing layers of extruded concrete at a building site, periodically moving to a new extrusion position. The concrete supply would be pumped from a nearby source. Cazza has previously stated their print speed was about 100mm per second.
This approach has a number of great technical challenges due to the mobility of the extruder.
In most 3D printer designs the extruder’s position is precisely known simply due to the mechanical design: a nozzle can compute how far away it is from the print surface by counting the steps its motor has executed, for example.
But this is not possible in a free space concept like Cazza’s. Thus they would have had to have designed an extremely sophisticated positioning system that would somehow use optical or other sensors to figure out exactly where the extruder was located.
I got the impression they were using some form of AI software for this based on reading their material, but it did seem like a bit of a stretch.
The company was set on selling franchises to those willing to put the machines to work on construction sites worldwide, which seems like a good idea as a startup could not possibly deploy large-scale products such as this globally.
There were even reports that the company, founded by then-19-year-old Chris Kelsey, had struck a deal with the Dubai government to 3D print an entire skyscraper. The Dubai government has been pushing 3D printed construction technology for some time now for reasons I don’t understand.
There were some renderings of the Cazza machine, but I never saw an actual image of the machine or its development itself.
This week, however, I went to visit Cazza’s site and found this:
Their site seems to be missing. Completely.
Could this be a site error? Perhaps they are down today?
That’s possible, but what is also true is that their domain, Cazza.co, expired on Sept 11th. Unless renewed and pages restored, their site is officially gone.
That sounds to me a lot like they have shut down operations. Then I read this post on Medium that details a corporate saga in which their CFO appears to have run away with the cash. CEO Chris Kelsey titled the post “How my ex-cofounder stole almost $1m USD from Cazza”, which is more or less the bottom line of the article.
Then there’s a subsequent Medium post only a few weeks ago in which Kelsey admits using another company’s video of a construction 3D printer, “in order to complete the final part of getting into the Dubai Future Accelerators”, apparently with permission, but then seemingly having it revoked. Very confusing!
He also added in another Medium post that he had lied to the press about the Cazza equipment being ready, though maintains that the plans were all feasible:
“I lied and said the machines were ready so that we could attract global press attention, then use it to raise funding to actually build the machines (which is exactly what ended up happening).”
The overall result seems to be that Cazza is indeed officially dead.
But not exactly dead. Kelsey says:
“By the way, I’m rebooting Cazza under the name Our New World and the technology we’ll be releasing is going to change the world to a degree that’s never been done before.”
Could this be a resurrected zombie Cazza? It sounds like the project would be even more ambitious. While the company, noted as being based in Mazatlán, Mexico, does not yet have a web page as of this writing, it does have a short blurb on its LinkedIn page, saying:
“The New World Drone (NWD) has three functionalities.
Obliterate: Laser beams chop trees and cut rock to clear landscape.
3D Print: Material Trucks (MTs) connect to the drone via the 3D printing tube.
Lift & Place: The drones Lift and Place (LP) prefabricated elements.”
All the controversy above aside, I can definitely get behind chopping lasers!