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Gadgets & Home Improvement

Local 3D printer start-up sees roaring growth

Newly launched company with its "Made in Singapore" quality products is expecting to see more expansion ahead
The Straits Times - April 14, 2014
By: Hoe Pei Shan
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Local 3D printer start-up sees roaring growth Attracted by Pirate3D's Buccaneer, one of the world's most affordable 3D printers for home use, backers from around the world have invested US$1.5 million in the company. -- PHOTO: PIRATE3D

BARELY 10 months after recording Singapore's most successful crowdfunding campaign to date, local start-up Pirate3D has seen exceptional growth.

The company has expanded from its four founders to 25 full-time staff on a monthly payroll of $120,000 and moved out of its incubator space to an office in Pahang Street.

The project has also garnered US$1.5 million (S$1.9 million) in funds from backers around the world, drawn to the company's Buccaneer - one of the world's most affordable 3D printers for home use at US$347.

This home-grown fairy tale, which began last June, has now made its first shipment of 114 Buccaneers - made right here in Singapore. Another 5,000 printers are expected to be delivered in the next two months.

Subsequent orders, which can be made only through the company's website, will likely be for printers sold at a higher price of US$900 each.

Pirate3D's goal is to bring 3D printing, which creates objects layer by layer, most commonly in plastic, to the average user, allowing him to "print" everyday items such as crockery or more complex creations.

Co-founder Brendan Goh, 27, told The Straits Times that they were on track to hit their sales forecast of US$10 million by the end of the year.

"It's been busy. We're working around the clock processing orders and pushing out improvements," said the materials science and engineering graduate of Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

The other three founders are his NTU classmate Tsang You Jun, 27, National University of Singapore (NUS) business administration graduate Roger Chang, 26, and NUS adjunct professor Neo Kok Beng, 49.

Apart from the deluge of orders, which Mr Goh notes are mostly from individual buyers and distributors in the US and Europe, the Buccaneer's sleek design and nifty functions have also attracted investors.

Mr Chang will be in New York later this month to secure about US$8 million from a group of investors there.

The company is also aiming to be listed on the United States-based Nasdaq stock exchange by next year.

Part of the Buccaneer's appeal lies in its "made in Singapore" stamp of quality, said Mr Goh. The printers are produced here by a Jurong-based manufacturer, despite this being "thrice as expensive in terms of manpower costs than doing it in Batam".

"We wanted some local pride," he said. "We want to show that an all-Singapore start-up and product can be successful."


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