Building a closed software and hardware ecosystem gives companies the advantage of being able to control how the technology is used and helping to get customers tied into buying compatible products.
An interesting new attempt at creating such an ecosystem comes from Kwambio. The Ukraine-based startup, which has attracted $500,000 from an unnamed local angel investor and won $19,000 in prize money at the IDCEE conference in 2014, is gearing up to launch a 3D printing marketplace along with a printer called Unique One priced at just somewhere between $800 and $1,000.
The secret behind the relatively low price is that the device is locked to work only with the Kwambio marketplace, where designers can upload their models to be customized and bought by customers. Most 3D printers use the popular .STL file format as the basis of the designs they print. Kwambio also uses .STL they can’t be directly downloaded – instead, designs are streamed directly to 3D printers from the company’s servers.
The Unique One has a printing speed of 300 mm per second and a 300×300×250 mm build volume, which is on par or even better than other similar devices on the market.
The platform itself is supposed to bring a simple and user-friendly interface to 3D printing, saving users the need to download files or install specialized software to their computers.
Kwambio’s marketing director, Kate Kolambet, says that it has 2,000 subscribers, 43.3 percent of whom are in the USA. Before the planned shipping date of the Unique One in fall 2015, the Kwambio software will be released over the summer to allow users to print with their own printers and use print-on-demand services that will be offered by partners.
This article has been updated to clarify that Kwambio uses STL files but in a different way to many 3D-printing companies.