QU-BD of Little Rock Makes 3-D Printing Accessible

by Luke Jones  on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014 12:00 am  

Because they already had machines and skills to work with, there was very little overhead. “The only costs we had were rent,” Myers said. “In this building, being that it’s horribly ugly, antiquated, the lighting is bad and there are leaks in the roof — there are 14 right now — the rent’s cheap. So that’s really worked out for us.”

It helped, too, Myers said, that he didn’t have any debt.

“It was very slow going at first, taking all the money we could get from cannons and reinvesting in raw material to make more cannons,” Myers said.

But sales soon picked up.

“In October of 2011, for the Christmas orders, we had to make about 1,400 of them,” Myers said. “We weren’t expecting to make nearly that much. We were expecting to sell 10 to 15 of them.”

Myers and Mainard spent long nights building the cannons, employing family and friends to pack the tiny firearms for shipping. Eventually the cannons were featured in Wired Magazine, Guns & Ammo Magazine and the Comedy Central TV show “Tosh.0,” all bringing a huge spike in sales for the novelty item.

With that project a success, Myers and Mainard started looking toward the next step.

“David and my strategy was, and still is, that we weren’t trying to make a lot of money on one product,” Myers said. “Instead of having one product making $200,000, we’d rather have 20 products making $20,000 each.”

For their next product, the pair was looking into rapid prototyping through 3-D printing services like Shapeways, but the cost was very high — leading them to buy two of their own printers.

“We realized that they were lacking in a lot of features like the quality of output,” Myers said.

Building on that, the pair figured out how to manufacture components of other brands of 3-D printers. Early on, Myers was able to replicate an extruder part that worked with Makerbot 3-D printers and sell it at a much lower cost than Makerbot could. When QU-BD initially contacted Makerbot about the part, “they weren’t even interested in even getting a quote from us,” Myers said. “But the community loved the open source design, so we took that idea and ran with it.”

They soon had raised $74,000 on Kickstarter to make an extruder part that could be used on many leading brands’ models.

 

 

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