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This website will be profiling some of the Endeavour Awards contestants in the lead-up to the event’s gala dinner on May 12. Brent Balinski spoke to Michelle du Toit, managing director and co-owner of Outstanding Start-up candidate Gizmo 3D Printers, about the company’s aspirations.
Gizmo 3D is an effort in tinkering that’s turned into an attempt to achieve the impossible.
Started by long-time software programmer and (more recently) inventor and maker Kobus du Toit, the Brisbane-based company has received attention from all over the world. It is also edging towards its goal: delivering “continuous 3D printing” machines with superior speed, reliability and accuracy.
After the company made its ambitious plans public only a year ago, it has successfully completed a small production run of four beta machines, pre-production run of 15 printers, and wowed many, including attendees at CES 2016 in Las Vegas in January.
Achievements thus far include, “Inventing the world's first super speed top down DLP SLA 3D printer, creating software features that no other printer in the world has, printing 3D prints that truly wow people in terms of quality and precision, and a pre-production run of 15 printers, so we know that we won't let our Indiegogo backers down,” Michelle du Toit, Gizmo’s co-owner, told Manufacturers’ Monthly.
The “Terminator”-style top-down printing method impressed reporters at the leading tech show, including those from MTS and Mashable, which noted the machines’ speed.
“At the highest speed, 3 mm per minute, the resolution is about 17 microns,” it reported. This is for the z-axis resolution. X and y axes are 52 microns resolution.
At the time of writing, the company is in the middle of its Indiegogo campaign, and has already raised over $US 63,000 of its $US 95,000 target (with 19 days left.)
It’s possible that Gizmo is on the cusp of big things – not bad for a start-up with only “2.5 employees”.
Du Toit puts the company’s early-stage success down to an enthusiasm for doing things better and easier, and finding solutions to problems that many people have.
“This way, your work becomes your passion and you inspire people around you, employees and businesses (wherever you go) to help your vision succeed,” she added.
“Being transparent and delivering on your promises is also important.”
Their story only properly began in March last year, the week after the founder of much-hyped Carbon 3D gave a popular Ted Talk on the company’s “CLIP” (continuous light interface production) method.
“Kobus thought ‘Wait a minute! My printer can do this too…’” recalled du Toit.
“So he commented on the article saying: ‘Here is a speed test from Gizmo 3D printers creating objects in a bigger projection area’
Kobus’s video gained over 70,000 views and the attention of 3Dprint.com and others, who eagerly picked up on Gizmo’s speedy new top-down DLP method.
So impressed was Autodesk's Ember team, for example, they attempted (without success) to reproduce du Toit's methods last year.
What also gained attention was the fact that Kobus had only recently started making his own 3D printers after being frustrated with a hobbyist-level machine he bought. The desktop printer was used to print plastic covers for guns at the du Toits’ laser skirmish business.
“When I met him he was building a hovercraft and we now have a half built small aircraft in the garage. He's been criticised about his lack of engineering qualifications quite a bit since building his own 3D printer but recently his invention got an A rating from the team of engineers at iMakr,” said du Toit of her husband.
“Just goes to show – despite what some naysayers might tell you, you don't have to be an engineer to create a world-leading innovation!”
Since the burst of attention, the du Toits have been obsessively trying to get Gizmo into gear. This year has proceeded at a breakneck pace as their business readies itself to ship.
“[The many articles written] and exhibiting at CES 2016 and the exposure that came with it lead to where we are today – the whole lower level of our home is a mini factory where quite a few of these world recognised 3D printers have been manufactured,” said du Toit.
For the time being, their suppliers are in place, their TNT and DHL accounts ready to go, and the Brisbane husband-and-wife team are hoping their product catches the attention of makers and industrial clients.
Part of the effort includes attendance at events and expos (Kobus has just been confirmed as a speaker at the Sydney Inside 3D Printing event in May). They are also hoping for success at this magazine’s upcoming Endeavour Awards, which will also be held during National Manufacturing Week in Sydney.
“An award would certainly be a big help to give us more exposure in Australia – currently most of our customers are US based,” explained du Toit.
“It will also give our brand more authority so that more people can take it seriously and not just think of it as being impossible or false advertising.
“I will also personally be absolutely delighted for my husband to receive a much deserved award for his hard work and determination the past 2 years while working a full time job and sometimes being called crazy for attempting and achieving the impossible!”
For those keen on seeing one of Gizmo 3D’s printers up-close, go to the Brisbane 3D Printing Meetup at River City Labs at 6pm this Tuesday night (March 15). RSVP here, as places are limited. Their Indiegogo page can be seen here.
For more about the Endeavour Awards, the manufacturing industry’s premier awards event, click here. Nominations are open until March 31.