download-16As 3D printing enters the mainstream more each day, offering incredible rewards to the world with an ever-growing list of innovations, we are also seeing a number of powerful collaborations taking place as companies work together to complement one another’s areas of expertise. And the work Voodoo Manufacturing and OpenBCI are currently involved in together should grab the interest of many—after all, what could possibly be more fascinating than investigating the human brain and affordable products that allow you to do so on your own? Not only that, the two companies together may be finally streamlining the Kickstarter fulfillment process so that many startups in the future experience success in production, post-campaign.

These are two companies very active in the 3D industry, and we’ve followed them both in numerous exciting instances from Voodoo Manufacturing’s latest work with Autodesk in making 3D printed prosthetics to OpenBCI working to expand the open-source community beyond the recent success of their classroom kit on Kickstarter. Now, the two are partnering to produce the Ultracortex Mark IV Headsets which will be fulfilling the OpenBCI Kickstarter campaign.

download-32The Ultracortex is a 3D printed ‘brain-sensing device.’ Exploring brain activity that is capable of controlling a computer, the Ultracortex records the following:

  • Research-grade brain activity (EEG)
  • Muscle activity (EMG)
  • Heart activity (ECG)

“When you look at the price of manufacturing equipment on the market, or if you decide to outsource for tooling, it’s very expensive,” said Conor Russomanno, co-founder and CEO of OpenBCI. “We’re seeing growth in mass customization because companies like Voodoo Manufacturing are completely redesigning the manufacturing process by offering the services to quickly produce high-volume orders of unique parts, cost-effectively. Now, it’s much easier to test out niche products and create demand in the process.”

While collaboration is one thing, turning to another company to facilitate Kickstarter rewards would seem to be a smart move, especially as numerous companies seem to find it difficult to start shipping out products on time. As both companies point out in a recent press release, they are aware of how many problems can arise once a campaign ends and the reality of production and shipping looms. Often startups are just becoming acquainted with the rigors of budgeting, manufacturing, and a multitude of requirements that can present obstacles.

“A recent analysis on Kickstarter projects gone awry found that nine percent of all funded projects fail to deliver their rewards,” stated the companies. “When that happens, no one, including the project creators or backers, leaves whole.”

ucm4-perspective-conor-2_44caa43b-656f-4c03-9ec1-abf673bc80db_1024x1024OpenBCI decided to shoot for success in fulfillment of their campaign choices, choosing 3D printing service provider Voodoo Manufacturing to produce 25,000 3D printed, unique mechanical pieces at their factory in Brooklyn. Once the pieces were fabricated by Voodoo Manufacturing, they were handed over to OpenBCI employees for assembling and packaging.

Over 500 headsets were assembled, including 3D printed frames and small mechanical parts, and they will be shipped around the world, with 150-200 of them having gone out already. Also available for pre-order at OpenBCI, the headsets retail at $299.99 if you want to 3D print some of the parts yourself. If not, you can also order the unassembled version ($499.99-$599.99) or the pro-assembled version ($699.99-$849.99).

“We’re seeing 3D-printing transform the way hardware startups launch products,” said Max Friefeld, co-founder and CEO of Voodoo Manufacturing. “We’re excited to help OpenBCI leverage digital manufacturing to turn away from mass production and more towards on-demand, individualised production.”

The New York-based company is now able to offer startups such as those just finishing a Kickstarter campaign an easier and more secure way to 3D print high-volume batches, without having to send them overseas for production. The idea is to experience the benefits of 3D printing nationally and at the assembly line level.

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Those receiving the Ultracortex will also benefit from some changes that OpenBCI has made to the headset since last year, with the Mark IV model able to measure brain activity more accurately. The newer headset is equipped with the ability to record a higher node count above the motor and visual cortex, meaning that users receive data at higher resolution. The Mark IV is also more modular, comfortable, with both reduced noise and better aesthetics overall.

OpenBCI (short for brain-computer interface) wants to give everyone the chance to understand more about the electrical activity in their bodies. Their biosensing systems are used to sample the EEG, EMG, and other patterns. They are also working to couple these systems with the open-source movement so that brain science learning is further accelerated. You can learn more about OpenBCI here, as well as joining their online community for further knowledge and participation. Discuss further in the OpenBCI & Voodoo Manufacturing 3D Printing Partnership forum over at 3DPB.com.

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