TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian tech start-up Mosaic is putting color into low-end 3D printers in a move to make the technology more accessible for everything from architectural modeling to medical training.
Mosaic is one of the latest in a slew of Canadian start-ups to jump into hardware, as the tech landscape, especially in the hardware segment enjoys a revival in Canada.
Canadian hardware, once dominated by BlackBerry Ltd and its devices, has been relatively quiet over the last decade. The slide in BlackBerry’s fortunes has partially led to a surge in the number of Canadian hardware-focused start-ups in recent years.
Companies like Aeryon Labs, which makes drones, to Clearpath Robotics, which makes mobile robots and Nymi, the maker of a wristband that authenticates a person’s identity by using their cardiac rhythm are among the firms leading the Canadian resurgence.
Montreal-based Mosaic is hoping to capitalize on a rapidly growing 3D printer market. More than 108,000 3D printers shipped in 2014 and numbers should double every year, hitting 2.3 million by 2018, according to a forecast from technology research firm Gartner.
“Parents will have a 3D printer at home for their secondary and post-secondary students taking design, engineering or arts courses,” said Pete Basiliere, an imaging and print services analyst at Gartner.
“There is a vast market of consumers worldwide who have the means to afford a 3D printer for their home,” he said.
Mosaic, whose device feeds multiple colors into the most common 3D printers, is taking pre-orders on a sub-$1,000 product called the Palette. The device offer an option to make 3D color prints and is compatible with most low-end 3D printers and should be compatible with future models as well.
Early indications are that interest in the Palette is high, as Mosaic, which began a crowd-funding campaign to raise some C$75,000 ($61,064) for the first production run of the model on Tuesday, raised more than 90 percent of its goal within the first hour.
Some are already lining up to get their hands on the device that is expected to launch early next year. Paul Fotheringham, a former investment banker turned 3D print maven, plans to scoop up one of the first production models for a pilot project at a hospital in Liverpool.
Doctors there plan to scan a patient’s cancerous organ and print a plastic model with bright red arteries and blue veins on which they can practice surgery.
Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe