/> ED I T O R S C H O I C E IN N O V A T IO N A W A R D
X

Quirky shows 3D printing at work (photos)

Quirky shows us how it uses crowdsourcing, 3D printing, and a team of experts to bring new products to life every week.

cnet.png
CNET Reviews staff
QuirkyTourNYC_01.jpg
1 of 17 Sarah Tew/CNET

Quirky has a new home

Crowdsourced product development company Quirky invited journalists to tour its new Manhattan offices this morning. Normally vendor facility tours have an overly promotional feel to them, but in Quirky's case, we saw it as a chance to check out how a company that makes real consumer products uses 3D printing.
QuirkyTourNYC_02.jpg
2 of 17 Sarah Tew/CNET

Quirky founder and CEO Ben Kaufman

Quirky is built on a democratic, partly crowdsourced business model. Anyone can submit a product idea to Quirky's Web site. Quirky's online community then refines the idea by making suggestions. As products rise in popularity on the site via a voting system, Quirky's own team of professional designers and engineers also votes twice a week to select the most popular ideas to turn into real consumer products. The original inventor, the relevant commenters, and Quirky itself all share in the profits once each product comes to market.
QuirkyTourNYC_06.jpg
3 of 17 Sarah Tew/CNET

Prototyping hardware on display at Quirky's new studio

Quirky lured us to the tour with the opportunity to check out its 3D-printing hardware. The orange device on the left is actually a laser cutter Quirky uses to prototype packaging material. The black box on the right (behind Gaz Brown, Quirky's head designer), is a Connex 350 3D printer from Israeli firm Objet. Quirky has nicknamed it "Bertha."
QuirkyTourNYC_09.jpg
4 of 17 Sarah Tew/CNET

The Connex 350

You can read aabout the full specs of the Connex 350 in this PDF. The machine, which costs about $250,000, can print multiple types of materials, including multiple kinds of materials simultaneously.
QuirkyTourNYC_11.jpg
5 of 17 Sarah Tew/CNET

High-precision printing

Quirky uses the Connex 350 to print out design prototypes of products in development. The company says its overall in-house production process can come pretty close to replicating the final, fully manufactured product. Brown told us that in addition to the 3D printer, he expects that one day Quirky will add a laser-sintering machine that can print 3D objects in different kinds of metal.
QuirkyTourNYC_07.jpg
6 of 17 Sarah Tew/CNET

Laser cutter

This machine is the $55,000 Universal Laser Systems PLS6MW laser cutter. You can read more about it, or perhaps even order one, here. Depending on the lasers installed, the PLS6MW can cut through metal, plastic, wood, and textiles. Quirky used it today to cut a sample product packaging sheet (the white form in the upper-right corner).
QuirkyTourNYC_13.jpg
7 of 17 Sarah Tew/CNET

Package sealer

Quirky uses this Formech 300XQ vacuum-forming sealer to create plastic package enclosures. This unit costs about $3,500.
QuirkyTourNYC_05.jpg
8 of 17 Sarah Tew/CNET

Wall of ideas

At the back of Quirky's office, this metal wall lists all of the products the company has voted to bring into production. There were roughly 200 ideas on the wall when we came through.
QuirkyTourNYC_04.jpg
9 of 17 Sarah Tew/CNET

Team effort

To bring those ideas to life, Quirky employs a team of designers and mechanical, electrical, and manufacturing engineers.
QuirkyTourNYC_14.jpg
10 of 17 Sarah Tew/CNET

Workshop tour

The second stage of our tour brought us through Quirky's design workshop. Here Kaufman opens the door to the spray room where Quirky's designers apply a finish to each product prototype to replicate its final appearance.
QuirkyTourNYC_15.jpg
11 of 17 Sarah Tew/CNET

Spray shop interior

The spray shop in action.
QuirkyTourNYC_08.jpg
12 of 17 Sarah Tew/CNET

Hard at work

Quirky's in-house designers create prototypes from all kinds of materials, including cloth.
QuirkyTourNYC_12.jpg
13 of 17 Sarah Tew/CNET

Building a better toaster

The designer in the foreground was working on a concept for a collapsible toaster made from foam core and the cannibalized innards of a traditional toaster.
QuirkyTourNYC_03.jpg
14 of 17 Sarah Tew/CNET

Jake Zein, one of Quirky's early success stories

As a high school student in a pre-college program at the Rhode Island School of Design, Jake came up with his first concept for a more efficient power strip. After reading about Quirky in an in-flight magazine, and consulting with an intellectual property lawyer, he posted his initial design on the company's Web site.
QuirkyTourNYC_20.jpg
15 of 17 Sarah Tew/CNET

Pivot Power in various stages of development

After Jake's idea made it through the feedback and approval process, Quirky eventually sent the Pivot Power to a large-scale manufacturing facility in Asia. Pivot Power went on sale in the U.S. in June 2010 (our colleagues at ZDNet wrote about it here), and it's currently available for purchase from Amazon.com, Target, and other major retailers. Sales so far have netted Jake more than $100,000.
QuirkyTourNYC_17.jpg
16 of 17 Sarah Tew/CNET

Product development showcase

Quirky's storage room shows a number of products in different stages of development, along with an assortment of reference and other objects. On the top of this shelf sits a pair of MakerBot 3D printers. Kaufman said that while Quirky and MakerBot don't have any business relationship, the two companies have a few investors in common.
QuirkyTourNYC_22.jpg
17 of 17 Sarah Tew/CNET

Quirky products on display

Quirky has a product showcase at the front of its office, which shows that the company has introduced products across different categories, from tech to home and office accessories.

More Galleries

The best games on Nintendo Switch

More Galleries

The best games on Nintendo Switch

41 Photos
The new Genesis G90 looks incredible

More Galleries

The new Genesis G90 looks incredible

6 Photos
Movies coming in 2021 and 2022 from Netflix, Marvel, HBO and more

More Galleries

Movies coming in 2021 and 2022 from Netflix, Marvel, HBO and more

67 Photos
The best Christmas movies and where to watch them

More Galleries

The best Christmas movies and where to watch them

18 Photos
2021 best new TV shows to watch, stream, obsess about

More Galleries

2021 best new TV shows to watch, stream, obsess about

65 Photos
The 51 best VR games

More Galleries

The 51 best VR games

53 Photos
Best dating apps of 2021

More Galleries

Best dating apps of 2021

13 Photos