Issue date: 28 May 2014
A chance meeting at the UWE Bristol canteen has brought together two sets of entrepreneurial students to launch a crowdfunding campaign, to bring to market an innovative 3D printer accessory.
Strooder, a plastic filament extruder has been designed by year two robotic engineering students, David Graves and Gregory Gruzecki, founders of OmniDynamics. This cost effective, versatile device aims to bring down the cost of home 3D printing, by enabling users to produce their own filament (3D printing ink).
Now at the production stage, the entrepreneurs have teamed up with business students on the enterprising BA Business (Team Entrepreneurs degree) to launch a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter aimed at raising the target of £20,000 to bring the product to market.
The campaign went live on 27 May and the team have 30 days to reach their target of £20,000. Under the rules of Kickstarter, if the target is not reached they will not receive any of the pledges. Backers will receive Strooder as a reward for pledging at least £149.
David Graves, said, “We have turned to Kickstarter in the hope that the community will support Strooder and our future plans. For our reward structure we have not only included the product itself, but it also includes unique 3d printed items and other rewards starting at £1, so that anyone can help us reach our target. Strooder enables users to produce cheap filament in a safe and easy way. Being 3d printing users ourselves, we questioned the environmental impact of failed 3d prints that would normally go to waste, we wanted to change this to allow users to recycle these failed prints into renewable filament. Strooder is operated by a 2.4” touch screen and has a menu for users to choose their desired material that they wish to extrude. The user will simply select what material they want to extrude and put it into the hopper, Strooder will then select the correct temperature and extrusion rate automatically and feeds the material into the machine. The material is then melted down and exits out the front as quality filament.”
Click here to support OmniDynamics' Kickstarter campaign for Strooder.
The crowdfunding campaign is just one of the ways, Bradley Green, Robert Wilson and William Dooley from LTRL has helped to market Strooder. Robert explains, “We are based in the enterprise hub next door to Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL) where OmniDynamics are located. A chance meeting in the canteen with David and Gregory got us talking about how we could help them with the marketing of the product as our next project. We set about extensive research into the 3d printing industry and from this devised a business plan. This enabled us to build a brand and begin marketing, using social media and PR to help create a buzz behind the product. We're really pleased with the awareness we've raised so far, speaking with numerous 3D printing publications, securing articles on some of the most well-known 3d printing websites.
“We've also used our connections to shoot a professional video to support the Kickstarter campaign – crowdfunding is proving to be a very innovative and successful way of raising investment for enterprising start-ups like OmniDynamics, it's a great product, so we're confident we'll be successful with this campaign.
“For our team, it's been a unique project to work on with OmniDynamics. We are always looking for a challenge and this has certainly been an interesting one for us, as we previously had little knowledge of the 3d printing industry.”
From event and budget management to marketing, PR and even graphic design, these are the skills that the team entrepreneurs are developing on a daily basis on this innovative practice based degree.
Team entrepreneurs meet in a high-tech 'hub' rather than a traditional classroom, with areas for team meetings, workshops and ideas sessions. Assessment is based on learning and applying ideas and concepts in their projects, rather than on exams, and the businesses are registered companies with actual year on year financial targets.
OmniDynamics is an exciting research and development company, they effectively design and create bespoke technological solutions specialising in robotics. Directors David Graves and Gregory Gruzecki set up their own company as an innovative alternative to taking a placement year on their robotics course. They also employ four other UWE Bristol robotics students on placement and are based in the technology incubator at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory.
Bristol Robotics Laboratory is a collaborative partnership between UWE Bristol and the University of Bristol, and home to a vibrant community of over 100 academics and industry practitioners, which lead current thinking in service robotics, intelligent autonomous systems and bio-engineering.
For more information on studying at UWE Bristol see BA Business (Team Entrepreneurs degree) and BEng(Hons)Robotics.