The knock on a lot of Kickstarter technology projects when their crowdfunding campaigns kick off, is that it will be months, but probably years, before the thing being funded is developed. And of course, because testing, development and design always take longer than expected, those deadlines tend to slip. (VIDEO.)
With this week’s launch of a Kickstarter for Makerarm, one of those giant hurdles has already been overcome. The makers behind this maker-friendly device already have a working prototype. I saw it working, happily buzzing along on the table, making a 3-D-printed plastic boat as we chatted.
If Makerarm was a 3-D printer alone, it would be interested, but just one of dozens of such devices that have come and gone in the crowdfunding realm. What sets this one apart, say Makerarm co-founders Zaib Husain and Azam Shahani, is that the cylinder-like device had detachable heads. You could 3-D print with it, but you could also laser engrave, assemble printed circuit boards, or even ice a cake with attachments that screw on. Makerarm’s software, which will be web-based and accessible from nearly any device, will detect what head is attached and offer options for that particular tool head.
Zaib has a background in finance and Shahani is an engineer, but both have been working on projects at TechShop. Makerarm, Zaib says, is an attempt to speed up making and to solve some of the problems that 3-D printers and other fabrication devices have. “Makerarm started out with our frustration with building a technology that we had at our disposal,” she said.
On Kickstarter, several early-bird tiers of the Makerarm plus a selection of tool heads are sold out, including one that was $999. As of this writing, it can be pre-ordered for $1,399 or $2,199 for a set that includes all available tool heads. It’s expected to be out in beta testing by next April and fully available by fall 2016.
Shahani said that Makerarm’s versatility makes it a good tool for a maker shop or someone who is experimenting. “For someone just starting, you can try many different forms of making,” he said.