Fabricating a circuit board isn’t tough but it takes a while. The back and forth, the bugs, and all of the shipping costs can turn a small project into a big problem. That’s why Botfactory raised $1.3 million to stick a PCB printer on your desk.
Founded by NYU grad students Nicolas Vansnick and Carlos Ospina along with NYU professor Michael Knox, BotFactory came about when Vansnick and Ospina needed to make a PCB for a class project. Nearly every student in the class failed because they couldn’t get circuit boards made in time and each iteration took weeks to complete.
“This lesson was tremendous – if this was a problem that was typical for any project, then the solution would revolutionize how electronics could be prototyped and fabricated,” said Vansnick. “Up until then, everybody had been trying to miniaturize electronics and chips, but not the processes that are employed to create PCBs.”
Their first product, the Squink, took off. They’ve already shipped 106 machines and they’re on track to ship a dozen more. The Squink is obviously a niche product – not all of us need pick-and-place machines in the office – but it’s a great start for a fascinating project. The kit uses conductive ink or solder and can place components right on a circuit board.
They raised $1.3 million from NY Angels as a lead investor.
“Ultimately our goal is to provide a desktop machine that can allow someone to make a board here and now, at a relatively low cost,” said Vansnick.
Traditionally, PCB manufacture consisted of sending a schematic to a fabricator in Asia and then waiting for the board or single chip to be sent back. Any bugs in the system take another few weeks to fix and then another few weeks to ship. By moving the entire process to a piece of hardware in your office the lads at BotFactory fixed a massive time sink.
The basic Squink costs $3,100 and more advanced versions cost up to $4,499. Again, it’s not quite in the real of maker pricing but, as Han Solo said to Spock, “Away put your weapon, these are the bots you seek [for making PCBs at home]!”