In the 10 years since it was founded, Bristol Robotics Laboratory has played host to one of the UK’s most diverse and exciting tech communities. At any one time, the institution is home to more than one hundred academics and students working on bioenergy, swarms, robotics vision and doing weird stuff with urine. Most recently though, BRL resident OmniDynamics has hit the headlines following the success of its barnstorming Kickstarter campaign for Strooder, a 3D-printing appliance. We spoke to the team to find out their story.

From UWE with love

Greg Gruszecki and David Graves founded OmniDynamics at the start of their UWE studies two years ago, aiming to bring advanced tech to the masses by creating products with user friendliness and accessibility at their core. Now joined by a team of five, from these starter blocks the pair have created something quite remarkable.

Strooder is their first product and has the potential to revolutionise 3D printing. ‘The first filament extruder [combining] high quality filament with safety, ease of use and flawless design’, Strooder sits on a desktop and converts inexpensive plastic pellets into ABS and PLA (that’s Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene and polylactic acid to the layman), the two most commonly used filaments – or ‘inks’ – for 3D printers. The device is highly compact and operated using a simple touchscreen menu.

Omni Logo

Heating and compressing the material into ready-to-use filament means consumers have no need to purchase the costly raw material needed for 3D projects. OmniDynamics will supply their own plastic pellets to feed the extruder, which cost up to five times less than off-the-shelf equivalents. In this way, Strooder is a game-changer.

3D for all

The costs and difficulties associated with getting hold of ABS and PLA has so far kept 3D technologies beyond the reach of most homes. By capitalising on this issue, OmniDynamics have bridged an important gap in the market – something founder David considers unique: “We make sure that our product is finished; we want to make sure that it’s accessible to as many people as possible. We’re not interested in making a bag of bits, we want to develop a product that anyone can use straight out of the box. To really widen the available market, we’ve got the consumer in mind”.

“We’re not interested in making a bag of bits, we want to develop a product that anyone can use straight out of the box. To really widen the available market, we’ve got the consumer in mind”.

 

Realising these aims has been made possible thanks to the funding and business advice available in Bristol, David says, particularly within the BRL tech incubator that Strooder is a part of. The lab’s resources for rapid prototyping have been integral to the project.

Kickstarted

In order to make the tool a market reality, the team have also undergone a highly successful Kickstarter campaign in recent months. Strooder hit its target of £20,000 within eleven hours, eventually attracting more than £64,000 of funding over the 30 days that followed.

When asked why he thought the concept of a desktop extruder attracted such support, Dave is unequivocal: “I think the project is something that people can get excited about. We’re on a cusp in terms of the market for 3D printing, which is transitioning from a hobbyist market to a consumer market. That means a lot more people are getting interested in 3D printing overall and want to get involved”.

OmniDynamics have since been using the funds to get Strooder on course for delivery in September. We can’t wait to get our hands on one.

Thanks to the OmniDynamics team for taking the time to talk to us. To follow the team’s progress, catch them on Twitter or Facebook, or visit the dedicated Strooder forum on 3Dprintboard.com.