Taking a creative spin on 3-D printing, one Brooklyn, New York-based small business has gone from sex toy prototypes to a product for the masses, much cheaper and faster than it would take using more traditional methods, according to its founders.
Dame Products, the maker of a hands-free vibrator for couples dubbed Eva, used in-house 3-D printing to create numerous iterations of its device, for a fraction of what it would cost to develop the gadget using more traditional methods, like clay molding, explained Alexandra Fine, the company's co-founder and CEO.
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"Here, we were able to make 3-D renderings and then actually print the tools that would allow us to inject silicone on top of the electronics," Fine said in an interview with CNBC. "That allowed us to really make these small changes between one prototype and the next," she said.
Mechanical engineer, co-founder and Dame Chief Technology Officer Janet Lieberman used computer-aided design software and 3-D printers made by MakerBot and Formlabs to print both prototypes and tools to make prototypes, Lieberman said.
Functional Eva prototypes cost the company between $100 to $130 to make in the early stages of development, and later prototypes cost up to $600 each, as opposed to the thousands they might have spent if they didn't use 3-D printing, according to the company.
Various materials and shapes were tested to find just the right firmness, flexibility and fit to tuck the so-called "wings" of the device under the labia and have them stay there until purposely removed. Unlike many similar products designed to be worn by men, Eva is designed to give a woman more control.
In October, Dame Products launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign with an initial goal of $50,000 in funding. By the time the campaign closed in early December, the company received more than $575,000 in funding to develop and sell its vibrator, which retails for $105.
Dame has shipped thousands of its Eva vibrators to consumers since its launch in March, and the company is working on getting the product into retail stores as well, according to its CEO.
About $15 billion worth of sex toys were sold worldwide in 2014, according to a recent estimate, and nearly 20 percent of those dollars were spent on vibrators.
Dame Products is up against major players like Trojan in the market for vibrators, but the demand for them is growing, Fine noted.
"It's an underdeveloped and underserved market," Fine told CNBC.