Design of the Year 2014
Buccaneer 3D Printer
View the video about the Project
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Designer
Pirate3DP Pte Ltd
Tsang You Jun
Neo Kok Beng
Chang Wai Kit Roger
Goh Brendan
Lee Yun Yi
Feng Xuming
Process Design
REI PromaxTechnologies Pte Ltd
Hein Henry
NSP Tech Pte Ltd
Lum Joseph
Advisor
The Institution of Engineers Singapore
Tan Shu Min Emily

Conceptualised to enable users to print objects of any shape easily and safely in the comfort of their home, the Buccaneer 3D Printer delivers on all its design targets. Slim and streamlined, with a small desktop footprint, it scores on aesthetics as well.

Wishing to provide home users with a feasible and affordable alternative to difficult-to-assemble hobbyist kit printers and costly professional 3D printers, Pirate3DP Pte Ltd set six basic goals for the Buccaneer to achieve. It must have a desktop footprint not exceeding 250 sq mm; have concealed internal mechanical systems not touchable by users; be ready for use out of the box, with minimal set-up time; be cloud-enabled and compatible with smartphones and tablets; offer a simple and hassle-free user experience; and be safe for home-use by young and older adults.

“With these goals in mind, our engineers prototyped systems that could fit into, and meet the requirements of our design”, says Chief Designer Tsang You Jun. “It helps to have experienced engineers who have worked with a variety of systems in the past, and who can therefore mix-and-match designs to develop a custom-solution for the user”.

Before creating the Buccaneer, Pirate3DP launched a crowdfunding campaign in May 2013 on Kickstarter, the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects. By the end of the campaign on 29 June, the company had received US$1.4 million in pledges from 3,520 backers, making the Buccaneer the most successful of all campaigns of 2013 and Kickstarter’s most successful 3D printer in its category.

In designing the Buccaneer for a target audience ranging from architects, artists and designers to sculptors, scientists, teachers, students and home-makers, Pirate3DP applied the company philosophy for creating products. This means ensuring a user’s goal had to be reached in fewer than three steps; having a design that doesn’t hinder or irritate; and enabling a user with minimal knowledge of engineering, to use the product.

That the Buccaneer can print any shape of object in the home within a few hours, “at a very, very low cost” is the product’s greatest functional value, says You Jun. He also points out how it can change people’s lives. Professionals such as artists, designers and architects can print small-scale models of their work at home, on demand, affordably, and in a timely manner. It can also change the way simple products and toys are distributed by allowing the average consumer to receive new toys and products via the Internet. Additionally, it is safe and reliable. Says You Jun: “You shouldn’t need an engineer to come down every two weeks to your home or office to service it”.

ABOUT THE DESIGNER

Founded in late-2012, Pirate3DP Pte Ltd is a start-up that was seed-funded by Red Dot Ventures and incubated by the Institution of Engineers, Singapore (IES). Its flagship product, the Buccaneer 3D printer, which uses fused filament fabrication (FFF) technique, is already winning wide acclaim and not just in Singapore.

The idea for Pirate3DP was sown when Roger Chang, who now calls himself “Chief Executive Pirate”, met with Brendan Goh and Tsang You Jun in 2002 to put together a 3D printer they had bought online. This led to the trio deciding to make their own 3D printer. Enter technology entrepreneur and venture capitalist Neo Kok Beng – and an enterprising company was born.

Roger, a Business graduate from the National University of Singapore, has always been a maker of things at heart. He has built numerous mechanical devices and put together many personal projects.

Chief Operations Officer Brendan, who holds an honours degree in Materials Science and Technology, has been interested in running a business and came in first place at the largest start-up competition in Singapore, [email protected] in 2009.

Chief Designer You Jun grew up in a family of designers and has studied many fields of design theory. He is experienced in systems integration and he oversees the development and manufacture of the Buccaneer.

Pirate3DP Chairman and Advisor Kok Beng specialises in the product development and commercialisation of technology from universities and research institutes. He has created successful ventures in mobile computing, information security and medical technology.

If and when a problem emerges, the team believes in coming together to find solutions. “It takes two hands to clap. Very often an issue with the product is not due to one person, but arises from the interactions between two or more persons”, says You Jun.

The team therefore knows it is essential to “design a proper process and work-accounting flow between different individuals and departments”, You Jun explains, adding that it is also important to be humble and accept mistakes as the team’s rather than the individual’s error. Their strategy as a team is to “create an environment where errors are proactively resolved by all, and not passed around as blame; praise individuals when they help to solve problems, sit and listen to them when problems arise, and then galvanise the team to solve the issue”.

Commenting on the significance of the President’s Design Award, he says: “I believe it helps designers working in Singapore to feel recognised and appreciated. It also emphasises the importance of fusing functionality and aesthetics in a product. Not only must the product work well, it must also make you feel good and at ease”.

Advice to emerging designers:

“Try not to be overly concerned with perfection…improve yourself and your product incrementally. Don’t be overly-critical of the work of others. Learn good management and people skills.”

JURY CITATION

Purposeful in their design approach, the designers have managed to conceal complex electronics with a minimalist design aesthetic perfectly suited for desktop use in a domestic environment. The interior component layout has been carefully considered with a clever arrangement of the cooling system to optimise footprint and functionality.

The designers analysed many of the challenges with existing 3D printers and identified safety as a key priority. This led to the development of a patented material which is used to house the printed object, and an innovative lowering platform that houses the 3D printed object as it is being printed. The feature also results in the user not having to calibrate the printer each time it is used.

This is a low-cost, desktop 3D printer that started as a project on the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. The designers exceeded their US$100,000 target by raising US$1.4m, indicating a strong market appeal for a product in this segment.

The Jury praised the holistic approach to the process of designing the product, which included a specially designed software application that allows users to create designs and upload them to a platform where they can be printed directly from a smart device. The Jury was particularly impressed with the potential of the project.

NOMINATOR CITATION

Helen Ho

The Buccaneer 3D printer, based on design thinking methodology, has field validated its design through its acceptance in the global marketplace by more than 3,500 backers via the Kickstarter campaign in 2013. The design was derived principally from Kickstarter’s corporate philosophy of democratising innovations and fostering creativity, and was guided by its principles of affordability, intuition and relevance for the targeted market segments of the home, education and offices.

Pirate3DP’s founders’ aim is a “3D printer that everyone can use” and they painstakingly ensured adherence to the concept of “simplicity”. This has resulted in a printer that does not have a button and is fully controlled by smart devices. The printer feedback to the user is through an intuitive light strip display that supports the aesthetics of the printer and fits in with the ambience of the environment. The founders combined their skills in ergonomics, technical design, aesthetics and marketing to come up with the design. They are passionate about providing a great user-experience, being 3D printer users themselves.

The Buccaneer 3D Printer has set a worldwide trend in the design of 3D printers. Before Buccaneer, 3D printers (such as MakerBot’s Replicator and Ultimaker) available on the markets had an “industrial” look with a focus on functions. Pirate3DP’s Buccaneer has set the world standard in the design of 3D printers for the professional, consumer and education markets. As a result, there is now a paradigm shift in the design of 3D printers towards aesthetics and usability.