Other Machine Co. CEO Danielle Applestone is audibly excited. She has something she really wants to show me during our video chat before she gets down to the proper business of firing up her demo. It’s something tiny. Something that has room to breathe on the tip of a finger, which even replicated in a blown up photo, I have to squint to make out.
“I was talking to my neighbor who’s in biotech,” she explains. “I asked him what the biggest pain in the butt was for him. He went into his room and showed me a microarray. It’s a $3,000 piece of aluminum with wells drilled into it. The only way he can get it is in this specific size. And when he gets it, it’s full of cells that he has to clean out. Every time he has to run an experiment, it’s $3,000.”
So Applestone made her own on her dining room table, using the Othermill Pro, the successor to the company’s desktop CNC milling machine that’s capable of cutting features down to 25 microns, courtesy of much faster spindle that turns at speeds of up to 27,000 RPMs.
The device marks the next major step for the company, which entered the world three years ago this month as a Kickstarter campaign designed to bring a circuit board milling machine to hardware developers’ desktops – a sort of milling equivalent to consumer-facing 3D printers. The company blew past its $50,000 goal in under 24 hours, eventually racking up more than $300,000 in pledges.
“I feel like there’s no limit to what we can do with software, digital and AI,” says Applestone. “We now have the wealth of tools in that area that meet our needs. But we’re so limited still by physical constraints. The atoms are really limiting us, whether that’s electronic or mechanical components.”
Applestone won’t give an exact number, but did reveal that the company has shipped more than 1,000 Othermills after their first year of commercial sale, the device having found homes in hardware startups along with corporations like Panasonic, Toyota, Samsung, Microsoft and Google.
“What we do is let you cut those boards on your desk,” says Applestone. “People haven’t been able to do this before, because they have to wait between two days and two weeks every time they want to build a board. Imagine if every time you had to iterate on software, you had to wait two days. The pace of software development would be super slow. And you’d be less adventurous because you want to try thing that you’re sure would work. And that’s bad for innovation.”
Along with increased efficiency, the new Othermill Pro is also faster and more precise than its predecessor, capable of creating a printed circuit board in around 20 minutes, and promising, according to the company, the same quality as the industrial machines that companies have previously relied upon. The system utilizes Other Machine’s proprietary software, which allows users to import G-Code, Gerber, and Eagle design files for printing.
The Othermill Pro is available now for pre-order at the discounted price of $2,699. That number jumps to the standard retail price of $3,199 on June 23rd.