Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Search form

3D printing a path to success

Queen’s engineering student uses QyourVenture, crowdfunding to take business to the next level.

Having launched his business before arriving at Queen’s, Mechanical Engineering student Eric Sammut (Sc’18) was looking for the support and mentorship necessary to take his startup – DisTech Automation – to the next level. Thanks to the resources available through the QyourVenture program, he recently completed a successful crowdfunding campaign to help launch an innovative new product that will push the limits of desktop 3D printing.

Eric Sammut (Sc’18) has been able to grow his 3D printing business, DisTech Automation, through the QyourVenture accellerator program. (Supplied Photo)

“My business was already established when I arrived at Queen’s so programs such as QICSI weren’t quite what I was looking for,” says Mr. Sammut. “I met with Greg Bavington and he told me about QyourVenture – a newly-formed incubator program for established entrepreneurs. That was just what I needed.”

QyourVenture is a key pillar of the innovation and entrepreneurship programming offered at Queen’s. The program, designed for students who already have established businesses, offers students access to workspace at Innovation Park for up to two years, as well as the opportunity to compete for seed funding.

DisTech's latest product, The Prometheus System, allows 3D printer users to print with multiple colours or materials from a single hot-end. (Supplied Photo)

In his first year with QyourVenture, Mr. Sammut applied for and received about $4,000 in funding to support new product development. His startup produces after-market accessories for 3D printers with their latest product, the Prometheus System, allowing users to print objects using multiple colours or materials through a single print nozzle – eliminating colour contamination and enabling easy and affordable multi-filament 3D printing.

“3D printing has always been limited to a single colour or material,” says Mr. Sammut. “I have a unique solution, in that I use a single nozzle and switch between multiple filaments that feed into that one nozzle. It’s much more elegant than other solutions on the market and really simplifies the process of creating multi-colour and multi-material objects.”

In addition to funding opportunities, QyourVenture also gave Mr. Sammut the opportunity to connect with a mentor at Launch Lab – the Regional Innovation Centre that is co-located at Innovation Park with Queen’s University and Parteq Innovations. Through QYourVenture and Innovation Park, he also has access to work space and equipment such as laser cutters which are a crucial component of the manufacturing process for his products.

By allowing users to print with multiple colours, the Prometheus System opens up new opportunities for 3D printing. (Supplied Photo)

In recent weeks, Mr. Sammut ran a Kickstarter campaign to help raise funds to put the Prometheus System into development. In just 80 minutes, he surpassed his $10,000 funding goal – raising a total of $40,000 in the first 24 hours – and ended the campaign with $76,215 pledged. Mr. Sammut says the campaign and his QyourVenture experience have further cemented for him the importance of taking charge of all aspects of a product launch – from product design to promotion and media outreach.

“Entrepreneurship is all about taking calculated risks and making the most out of the skills and resources you have available,” says Mr. Sammut. “I have learned a lot as an entrepreneur and I’m very thankful for the help Greg Bavington and the QyourVenture program have given me over the past few years.”

Innovation and entrepreneurship programming at Queen’s has a pan-university focus, setting it apart from other universities in Ontario. Students from all faculties have the opportunity to participate in innovative and entrepreneurial activities using state of the art equipment, technology and resources across campus. To learn more about the opportunities and programs available to help Queen’s students at all stages entrepreneurship, please visit the Queen’s Innovation Connector website.