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With the help of C4DI and Studio Kiwi, Alex Youden took to Kickstarter to fund the development and production of the NFire 1: The worlds first truly modular 3D Printer- gaining attention from The Yorkshire Post, Lancaster Guardian, 3Dprint.com and more along the way. During the development of the project, Alex won ‘Young Digital Person of the Year’ at the Hull Daily Mail Digital Awards, with NFire Labs winning ‘Best Hardware’ at the same event. With the first batch of printers being distributed this month, I thought it’d be interesting to find out what the project has been like behind the scenes.

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What was the idea/reason behind your 3D printer?

3D Printing is the future, there is no disputing that! And, as time goes on, it is going to grow and grow! When I first started my 3D printing adventure it was very expensive and very complex to use, so my main aim was to bring the cost of 3D Printing down- so as many people as possible can experience this wonderful technology.

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You used Kickstarter to fund the project- How was that experience on a personal level? As someone who checked its progress every damn day, I’m keen to know what it was like behind the scenes..

Kickstarter is a rollercoaster! It’s mad, fast and has many ups and downs; With most projects, you have spikes in backers at the beginning and at the end of the campaign, as people finally make up their mind as to whether to back the project or not. We managed to raise £10,000 in a matter of hours which was a huge achievement by everyone involved. But once we hit that, things slowed down into the ‘valley of death’ and that was a nerve-racking time as we couldn’t tell if we would hit the £30,000 target. Then, in the final hours, we managed to cross the £30,000 target and end up with over £31,000 pledged. I will admit I went to sleep before the funding period ended as I couldn’t take it!

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In a world where 3D printing is slowly, but surely, becoming a more common piece of technology, what sets the NFire 1 apart from the crowd?

The price is a huge part in the NFire 1 being different from the vast majority of the market. The most common reply from people when I say how much is costs is: “Wow! really?!”. People are under the impression that 3D printing is still in the realms of thousands of pounds, when in fact you can get an equally capable printer for just a few hundred. To add to this the NFire 1 is completely modular, so any aspect can be upgraded.. Before, if you wanted a larger 3D printer to the one you currently owned, you had to buy a brand new one. With the NFire, that isn’t needed. All you need to do is buy the upgrade parts and you have nearly doubled your build volume.

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You’re based in the recently-finished C4DI building in Hull- How has that helped your development of the project?

I can safely say that if it wasn’t for C4DI, I wouldn’t be in the position I am today. C4DI has an immense set of skills all under one roof. For me, setting up a new business and at such a young age, C4DI’s help and guidance made NFire Labs possible. If I tried to do this at home on my own, I don’t think I would have raised £300 on Kickstarter, let alone £30,000!

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What’s your next project?

We are going to start looking to sell the 3D printers on Amazon and possibly set up a 3D Printing shop in Hull. A place where people can come to buy 3D printers, 3D printing consumables and also if they need help/advice with anything 3D print related.

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