At the recent 3D Printshow in London we ran into Brook Drumm, CEO of PrintrBot and got an update on their developments.
PrintrBot is a rarity: they market a very low cost personal 3D printer and succeed. Competitors at that price point frequently appear, but they also frequently fail. PrintrBot survives for two reasons: They have a great design and the company deeply understands the finances involved in producing a low-margin product.
We had a conversation with Drumm who told us several interesting things:
They’re slowly shifting from kits to assembled units as the market for kits become saturated. We’re not surprised at this; there is a smaller amount of DIY prospects, and a much larger amount of less-technical prospects.
PrintrBot is developing a CNC mill based on the existing PrintrBot technology. The all-metal device, or at least a very close-to-final prototype, will be shown at Makerfaire NYC later this month. Drumm is very proud of this machine as it includes a variety of notable features, such as a “real collet” for holding a wide selection of bits and enabling 8-9,000 RPM speeds on the spindle.
PrintrBot will be replacing their “Go” model with a “Pro” version. Drumm feels the “Go”, which was intended to be portable, really isn’t due to its size and weight. The Pro model should resolve the issues.
The company will develop a Body Scanner. The idea is to produce a simple structure that combines a robust turntable capable of holding and rotating a person with a post that moves a Kinect 3D scanner vertically to ensure full scan coverage.
The company also intends to develop RC drone boats and cars. While these new potential products may not always be related to 3D printing, it demonstrates that the company is able to leverage the inventions and techniques used to produce a viable and inexpensive 3D printer can be used for other products, too.
Finally, we asked Drumm his thoughts on the recent deluge of ultra-low cost 3D printers that, at first glance, may appear to directly compete with PrintrBot. He had little concerns, as he’s very confident in PrintrBot’s ability to manage costs. Meanwhile, he had advice for prospective low-cost manufacturers: “Do some serious research on your own abilities”, or admit you provide “Less for less”. In other words, you’d better ensure you can deliver.