An Interview with Braydon Moreno, Co-Founder of ROBO 3D
One of the 3D printer companies that continues to create a lot of buzz these days is Robo 3D. What is perhaps more amazing about their recognition is that they are a relatively young company having only been formally founded in 2012. They began with the idea of making a 3D printer for people like themselves who want to use the technology, but at the same time are unwilling to pay extreme prices. We recently had the chance to speak to Braydon Moreno, one of the co-founders about their company and their products. The interview was conducted via email, and the transcript is here below.
1) How and when did you decide to get into 3-D printing? What is it from your background that led you to this point?
I got into 3D printing after being exposed to the technology with my two co-founders. I had an "ah ha" moment if you will. I had heard about it, but seeing it was a whole different experience. I could see into the future instantly. I could see people making anything and everything in the comfort of their home. I could see people customizing, fixing things by printing replacement parts, and designing new products. I knew the advantages of this technology and how it could shape our society. Before ROBO 3D, I owned a cell phone repair business in San Diego. I have always been an idea guy. I look at the world differently than most. I try and find unique ways to improve things so naturally I was attracted to 3D printing.
2) When was ROBO 3D founded and has the company ever done any other type of 3-D printing?
The company was founded in Mid 2012. One of our founders, Coby Kabili, had been using a large format 3D printer to build prosthetic limbs for a senior project at San Diego State University so this is where the interest in the tech came from originally. We launched our Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign with 3 of us and 1 prototype still working from a dining room table. To have the success we had on the platform was truly an eye opening moment for us and we knew we had something great!
3)What type of material or filament do ROBO 3D printers use? Do you have plans to expand into other materials in the future?
ROBO 3D printers use over 20 different materials. We use all of the open source materials that are out in the marketplace. Most are plastic infused materials, but we have infusions with stainless steel, carbon fiber, and magnetic iron from a company called proto pasta we are working with. We also are working with flexible materials, wood infused materials, nylons, and more. The possibilities are endless. We do want to get in the material business in the future and develop some of our own blends. We think there is still a ton more improvement in this space to create higher strength materials and different blends to give users additional feature advancements.
4)What can you tell us about the process and equipment that you use for printing (without giving away your trade secrets)? Is your equipment something you have developed, or have you licensed it from other people?
We have developed all of our own equipment. We built this as an open source product so people can expand upon it, improve it, add multiple heads, etc. Our users are incredible. The additions some of them have made to the machine have blown us away. We are building a business in an industry with incredible people behind us and amazing feedback from our users. We couldn't be more proud of some of the people that have "JOINED THE ROBOLUTION" as we say. Our goal is to create advance open source tech and create new products that mass consumers can take advantage of.
5) What are build sizes for printers and the objects that you are printing? Is it mainly small objects, or can you print larger ones too? How scalable is your tech?
Our R1 3D printer that we sell for $799 has one of the biggest build volumes of desktop 3D printing machines at 10" x 9" x 8". This is double the average in the industry for desktop units sub $2000. I think this has helped us be successful. people want to print BIG! Our tech is very scalable. We are currently building a 3' x 3' x 3' mega 3D printer utilizing the same system as a personal 3D printer but expanding it all. It will be affordable and allow for even larger models for users. Pretty incredible stuff will come from the Rmega.
6) What colors are possible with your printers?
We currently only print single extrusion on the R1 3D printer so it is one color at a time. We sell 12 different colors of material and there is probably another 20 or 30 open source colors out there that work on our machine as well. We are working with a company called Spectrom on developing an application that will be upgradeable for the R1 as an attachment that will allow all users of our machine to have the ability to print in full color on a single extrusion system.
7) Do you have a particular target audience or industry in mind with your current 3-D printing options?
We are making a big leap into education. I think kids have the power to change the world. We are so interconnected now and kids just get it. They know about it. We can give them the tools and the skillsets, and they can let their imaginations run wild. They can look at the world and solve problems with a 3D printer. I know 3D printing will be hugely advantageous for students growing up utilizing it and then getting out into the real world with that knowledge.
8) Once again, without giving away too much, what other future applications or industries are you hoping to engage with down the road?
We would like to get into dentistry and medical overall. I think there is big applications in patient specific devices so I am hoping we can put that on our road map. We also would like to engage with military applications. Huge advantages to have this technology in the the military field to create on demand parts.
9) In your mind, given the wealth of 3-D printing technologies and devices out there, what makes yours stand out from the crowd?
Our current product was all about building a best value product. The feature set, affordability, and quality was our focus. Looking at our product road map, we are set to introduce some new technology next year. We will start advancing the industry forward based on our heavy involvement in the space thus far. We have recognized opportunities in the 3D printing industry and we are going to tackle them. Plenty more to come from ROBO 3D.
10) Given the explosion in the industry, what do you see from it in the next 5-10 years? Will it continue to become more crowded and do you think we will reach a point where it becomes commonplace for everyday consumers to have a 3-D printer in their house?
First off, I know that every household will eventually have a 3D printer. The question is, what room will it be in? I see it advancing heavily in the next five years. Once it gets INCREDIBLY fast, and there is unlimited amounts of content (in the form of 3D files) for everyone, we will start seeing more and more adoption by the masses. If you could push a button and have a full color, amazing looking iphone case (among millions of other things) in a matter of minutes and the machine only cost $200, I think that justifies the cost. It's about seeing what can be done in the future with these machines as the advancements in the tech become clearer. You will see. Every one of you reading this interview will find a need for a 3D printer. And if you don't, we will find it for you.