Innovation Factory – Another New 3D Printing Start-Up This time in Chicago
Innovation Factory has been conceived as a creative space for designers and entrepreneurs to work together to create innovative new products. The company’s focus area is to produce original CAD designs and 3D printed prototypes within the fashion, consumer electronics and homeware industries – and more interestingly, helping new small businesses succeed, including sourcing funding. Innovation Factory has garnered great traction in bringing designers and entrepreneurs together to develop new products, and two of their clients have already matured to the stage where they have reached their funding goals through crowdfunding.
MU Optics is one of these new innovators that has developed a smartphone thermal imaging camera, for which Innovation Factory produced the original design and 3D printed prototype. This camera is aimed at DIYers for use at home and construction professionals to detect potential hot spots that may cause fire. Current competitor products are retailing between $2,000 up to $22,000 and MU Optics is planning to offer their initial model at $350 – assuming they will meet their final funding target. At the time of writing, the MU Optics team has raised $197,000 of their $200,000 target. It’s looking good.
Another interesting client company for Innovation Factory is Scout Alarm, which is an iPhone-based home security system. Again, Innovation Factory was behind the design work and creating the 3D printed prototype. Scout Alarm’s goal was to create a modern looking, easy-to-install and use alarm system, that can be customised to the user’s needs. Their funding efforts were successful and they surpassed their funding target of $180,000 by nearly $30,000. Pre orders are still open for anyone wanting to get one.
3D printing is a great enabler for the business model set up by Innovation Factory in their efforts to help other businesses to succeed. They can create the new ideas from the screen of a computer to a tangible product in a short period of time. The founders Tricia Thomas and Jonathan Kinlay also have another goal in mind, which is to bring manufacturing back to the US. The two aforementioned cases are promising starting points for their efforts, and perhaps a good role model for others to consider in their respective countries.
From May onwards, Innovation Factory will be hosting regular design competitions and networking events at their store in West Loop in Chicago, US; where likeminded entrepreneurs, angel investors and designers can share their ideas and discuss the opportunities in the maker space.