The Singaporean startup burst onto the scene in May with news of its relatively inexpensive printer. The Buccaneer cost $347 on Kickstarter, far cheaper than the Makerbot Replicator 2.0 at $2,199. For reference, the Form One, which has just started to ship, set its Kickstarter pledge at $2,299.
The printer is pitched as a consumer device, and Pirate3D makes a library of objects available through a drag-and-drop Web-based GUI (graphical user interface), for people unfamiliar with CAD (computer aided design) software to customize objects. You can download its Android app to test out the interface.
Pirate3D is placing so much emphasis on this interface that it is resting its future survival on its software hopes, said co-founder Roger Chang. “I’m certain you’ll see a fake Buccaneer within the next six months,” he said.
Hardware copying is inevitable in this business, and to stem the possibility of being edged out by a fake, the company is planning to outsource the brains of its device, he said.
This will allow other hardware makers to produce similar machines, but still plug into Pirate3D’s software library. This will allow it to stay relevant in the industry, and ahead of the copies. The company is working on releasing an SDK (software development kit) for its Smart Objects library as well, to encourage the community to populate the pool of items in it.
Over 3,000 machines have been ordered through Kickstarter, and Pirate3D is working with manufacturers in Singapore to get mass production going. The third-party manufacturers are headquartered here, but mass work will be done in China, where their factories are.
With any luck, the first prototypes will come out in December, and proper models will start shipping in February next year, said Chang.