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TheStreet Open House

#digitalskeptic: There's a Shakeout Coming in 3-D Printers

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Shai Schechter and his three buddies are the only hip kids I've met that really get hip 3-D printers.

"Most people go on Kickstarter and say, 'We are going to get rich making these printers,'" the SUNY Purchase College undergrad told me over the phone. "But now that I've made one, I can tell you, it is not that simple."

Schechter is not making up what it takes to really make a three-dimensional additive manufacturing device, similar to what giants such as Stratasys' (SSYS) MakerBot, Germany's Voxeljet (VJET) or Rock Hill, S.C.-based 3D Systems (DDD) produce. The 21-year-old -- who, by the by, is not even an engineer at Purchase; his thing is graphic design -- is co-founder of Deltaprintr, a surprisingly high-functioning desktop 3-D printer that I have been learning about for the past month or so.

And this young man, with nothing more than the help his childhood buddies Andrey Kovalev, Yasick Nemenov and Eugene Sokolov, has turned a mere $3,000 upfront investment into a damn viable 3-D printing startup.

"We had a 10-year-old 3-D printer at school that basically cost $500 to print a model," he explained. "It was stupid."

Schechter began writing a proposal to get a new, lower-cost unit at Purchase. But when the Staten Island-native realized 3-D printers were not complex to make, he rounded up his geek posse to design a unit all their own.

"I was always tearing things apart and fixing them as a kid," he said. "It drove my mother crazy because the vacuum cleaner was always in pieces." This tinkerer spirit was more than enough for Schechter and his friends to create a prototype worthy of a $1,000 school grant. The group got a unit made -- a unit, he says, his whole class still uses.

"Once we made that first one, we knew we could make a better one," he said. And so Deltaprintr was born.

Schechter's innovation is a triangular, "delta geometry" that uses just 10 inches of precious desktop space, yet still runs on open-source software and prints at high resolution. And Schechter is sure he can build his little 3-D printing business.

"At least from what we see," he explained, "this market is going to get competitive very quickly."

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