Crowdsourcing Innovation: John Fang, CEO, Blacksmith Group

Crowdfunding sites are offering a new path for inventors with original ideas. We talk to inventors looking to gain the public’s favour...

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Name:  John Fang

Job title:  CEO

Organisation: Blacksmith Group

Location:  Singapore


Product: Blacksmith Genesis

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What it does & how it works:

By combining the function of a 3D scanner and a 3D printer into one compact machine, Blacksmith Genesis and our software Blacksmith Sorcerer allow you to scan your everyday object, modify it to your liking, and create a new invention easily. With this feature, users may create and print 3D objects even without extensive 3D printing knowledge.

What makes it special?

Blacksmith's innovative technology integrates 3D printing and 3D scanning capabilities into a single system. You save cost without buying two separate systems!  Plus, Blacksmith Genesis provides the ease of creating 3D models by scanning physical objects. The digitized objects can then be modified and combined via Blacksmith Sorcerer to form a new unique 3D object.

While most 3D printers use an inflexible Cartesian platform, the Blacksmith Genesis uses a rotating platform, similar to how a record player plays. This efficient mechanical design halves the distance that the extruder needs to move, making Blacksmith Genesis more compact than traditional 3D printer designs while still being able to print large objects. This feature also makes it perfect for integrating 3D scanning.

What’s your background, and what inspired you to come up with the idea?

I was a research engineer. The rotary system was inspired by record players.

Why Indiegogo?

Indiegogo has a global reach. Compared to Kickstarter which is limited to a number of countries.

Is Crowdfunding good for innovation? How so?

  • Getting market validation
    Blacksmith Genesis is a new product - a 3D scanner and 3D printer combined, essentially a 3D photocopier. Crowdfunding allows us to test the demand for this concept. In the world of paper printing, nowadays almost every office has a paper photocopying machine, but historically it took more than 3 decades for the public to accept a multi functional concept - conventional paper printing and digital scanning combined. However, at the rate of current technological evolution, we foresee that market acceptance will be swift in the world of 3D. The Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign will validate this.
  • Grow the company together
    Through crowdfunding we get feedback that will help us improve our product. Input from the market is important for us to sustain our technological edge. We'd like to get those inputs as early as we can.
  • A chance to prove our trustworthiness
    A successful crowdfunding entails a huge obligation to deliver. It is an opportunity for startups like us to demonstrate our trustworthiness to the world. In crowdfunding the customers pay first and get the products later. A successful delivery shall earn us positive reputation for future venture capital raising and lifelong loyal customers.

Reactions on IGG so far?

Quite good. We have gone over 50% within 4 days.

What lessons have you learned from your campaign?

Campaign videos should focus more on the product than the inventor.

There are many 3D printers on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. What makes yours stand out?

Blacksmith Genesis is the most compact 3D printer on all crowdfunding campaigns. For the same print volume, Blacksmith Genesis takes up half the size. And it comes with a 3D scanner.

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3D Printing has yet to really take off in the public sphere – what do you think needs to happen to turn people in the street on to the concept?

It has to be easy to use. 3D printing's power is to enable the public to create something unique - a one-off process that is affordable, simple, and fast. And the easiest way to achieve that is to use Blacksmith Genesis, because by scanning and modifying everyday objects, the public can create unique items for themselves without having to design from scratch.

Where do you see 3D printing going the next 12 months?

More people will take up 3D printing.

Possible business use/advantage?

Prototyping businesses, repair shops, modelling services would benefit most from Blacksmith Genesis.

Aims for the future?

To develop and offer printheads with other material options: food, elastomers etc.