It started with a bad burn. Dan Downs, Co-Founder of R3 Printing, was trying to separate a piece of filament—the material that’s used in 3D printers, and he thought a lighter would do the job. Rather than separating, the filament melted, oozing all over his hand and burning him in the process. Now, he has scars on his hand and fingers.
“3D printers don’t come with the safeguards that you would expect contemporary manufacturing equipment to have, just because the technology is so new,” Downs said of standard 3D printers on the market.
Realizing the safety hazards of 3D printing, Downs paired up with R3 Printing co-founder Paul Sieradzki to build a safer 3D printer. In the process, they identified other issues plaguing the technology and set out solve those problems.
Building from the ground up
Prior to developing the R3 Printer, Downs and Sieradzki worked as 3D printing manufacturers, producing 3D printed goods for both businesses and consumers.
“We got a very intimate look at contemporary 3D printers from being hands-on with the tech. We learned three really crucial things,” Downs said. “3D printers today are relatively unsafe, they're slow, and they are highly inefficient. We identified these problems and realized we could be the guys that solve it.”
Sieradzki, an engineer who had long had his sights set on becoming an inventor, began reimagining the 3D printer's potential. With Downs covering business strategy and Sieradzki handling engineering, the duo proved the right match to manifest this vision.
R3 Printing isn’t just out to improve upon existing 3D printer prototypes. Instead, Downs says that R3 Printing is trying to usher in a new way to manufacture products, something he calls on-demand manufacturing.
“We're trying to create the world of on-demand manufacturing; it’s our true north." he said. "We are trying to create the ability to manufacture very rapidly through automated printers. If we can do that, it'll have an impact on our world on par with what software has done to our lives in the last 40 years. The ability to design an object and produce it overnight would be game-changing. What’s holding us back is that today’s 3D Printers take many, many hours to get a job done, are not optimized, and are a literal pain to use. We’re here to solve these with the R3 Printer.”
Downs and Sieradzki imagine a near future with fully automated 3D printers for the seamless production of physical objects.
To manifest this vision, the team at R3 Printing is bringing to market the R3 Printer, an enterprise-grade 3D printer that solves the three biggest problems with printers today: Speed, Safety, and Efficiency.
As leaders, they recognize the importance of challenging their team whiles remaining constructive. Precise communication is a key ingredient in their leadership strategy.
“We like to be very precise with our words, because this is the best way to effectively communicate," Downs said. "It's easy to miscommunicate, so I like to ask a lot of questions."
Downs and Sieradzki are also mindful of the necessity of wellness for startup founders.
“We take wellness pretty seriously. Not as seriously as some, but it’s important to us,” Downs said. “I go to church every Sunday and talk to family members constantly—probably two or three nights a week. I talk with really close friends. Paul does the same. We probably spend three or four hours a week each talking with experts in the industry. And through talking to people about our hurdles, having very open lines of communication, and being very spiritually grounded, that’s how we are able to make it through challenging times.”
Why R3 Printing chose to raise on Republic
A chief reason the R3 Printing team decided to raise with Republic was the engagement they would receive from investors. “There’s a built-in benefit of building a loyal following. VCs can fund startups with large lump sums, but it won’t necessarily help create a community of people who will engage with R3 Printing, who will follow the company’s latest development and spread the word about the technology to their friends,” said Downs.
“If we can have people in our corner who are invested in our company, who are tracking us every month, reading our newsletters and learning what we need help with in manufacturing, there is the incentive to get on the phone and call me because they're invested.” Downs said.
“Our goal is to bring the R3 Printer to market. We know that there are people out there who have the answers to our challenges and my goal is to get in front of them. We are here to share how cool of an opportunity we're trying to tackle, how large of an impact you could have in helping us build, and then get investors inspired so that when we need help they give us a call.”