May 17, 2015 | By Simon

While 3D printing has historically been used in the product development process for decades - a process referred to as “rapid prototyping” - the recent surge of low-cost desktop 3D printers have allowed nearly anybody with an idea and some basic CAD knowledge to “make it real” before putting the product on a crowdfunding platform such as Kickstarter to test its international market strength for relatively no upfront costs.

One of the more recent examples of how an inventor used 3D printing to bring a product to Kickstarter is with the CH4 - a fart tracker named after the chemical compound for methane.   

“Farts are almost always a result of your food intake,” says the CH4 Kickstarter page.  

“As you digest food, gases such as hydrogen, methane, and carbon dioxide collect in your intestines. If you could you keep track of your farts vs. the type of food you are consuming, you would know what foods to avoid and fix the problem. CH4 does exactly that!”

The $120 smartphone-enabled, 3D printed tracking device sadly recently failed its run on Kickstarter, however it serves as an important reminder of just how powerful 3D printing can be for bringing relatively any idea to Kickstarter: both those that the market wants as well as those that perhaps need some more refinement.   

Created by Brazilian User Experience designer Rodrigo Narciso, the 3D printed tracker was developed while Narciso was pursuing his Master’s thesis at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU.   

The device - which simply tracks how much gas a user is putting out - is a 3D printed square that can be attached to a back pocket or belt during the day.  Each time a user passes gas, the sensor detects the action and records it onto a digital ‘gas gauge’ within the accompanying app.  At the end of the day, a user can measure how much gas was emitted during the day and use that information to adjust food intake or otherwise learn more about digestive habits and specific foods or eating patterns.  

While the design is still currently in a prototype stage, Narciso has made significant strides towards making it a viable product; the 3D printed prototype includes a sensor board with an algorithm that can detect gas along with the app.  

Sadly, Narciso’s campaign closed last week and only managed to raise $3,827 of its lofty $180,000 goal.  Narciso has separately claimed that he used the popular crowdfunding platform as a vehicle for testing market value and consumer interest in a gas tracking device.   

“We just finished our Kickstarter Campaign,” wrote Narciso on the CH4 website.   

“Thank you all who supported our project! We didn't get funded. Keep in touch to get information about our next steps!”

While it’s unclear if he plans to re-launch the CH4 again in the future, there has been some interest in further developing the device from the medical industry - proving that just because you might not raise your funds on Kickstarter, doesn’t mean that your idea is dead in the water.




Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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