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3-D Printer By Saskatchewan Man Gets Record Crowdsourced Cash

11/06/2013 07:18 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 10:53 EST
A Saskatchewan man who has developed an affordable 3-D printer has attracted worldwide attention and more than $700,000 in crowdsourced funding.

Rylan Grayston, 28, from Yorkton, said curiosity fuelled his quest to create a 3-D copier that sells for just $100. Other versions of the high-tech device exist for several thousand dollars or more.

"I didn't have enough money for a 3-D printer that I wanted, so I just started thinking about how can I do this myself?" Grayston told CBC News in an interview at a shop in Saskatoon where he is working, with his brother, on his project.

"All I want to do is invent," Grayston said about the possible riches associated with an affordable 3-D printer. "I would love to have lots of money so I can pull off my other inventions. ... I don't want to buy a yacht. I won't be buying any fancy cars."

While Grayston has no formal training in engineering or computer science, he has been a tinkerer all his life.

Grayston's software converts an object into file data using a sound-card on his laptop. The information on that audio file is sent to mirrors and laser beams, which vibrate and move in accord with the data to carve 3-D objects from a specialized acrylic resin.

Unlike other, more expensive, devices -- Grayston's Peachy Printer has no motors or microprocessors.

With marketing help from Nathan Grayston, 22, a YouTube video introducing their 3-D printer kit attracted a total of $720,000 in crowdsourced money, the bulk of that from the online entrepreneur support network Kickstarter.

Experts impressed

His approach to creating the machine has impressed experts in high-tech.

"It blows my mind," David Gerhard, a computer science professor at the University of Regina told CBC News. "The way that they're doing things is so sort of different from the way normal 3-D printers work, that it's quite amazing to see the shift in thinking."

As part of the crowdsourcing, Grayston has about 5,000 pre-paid orders for kits.

He says his version was inspired by information he found online, so he's not filing for patent or copyrights. He is also posting his plans on the internet.

"It completely changes the game," Gerhard said of the machine he saw, first hand, in Yorkton. "To be able to do it for a hundred bucks and basically with stuff you can find around your house, that's the thing that changes everything."

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