Bantam Tools Acquires Evil Mad Scientist, Brings Its Co-Founders In-House for New Art Machines

AxiDraw is dead, long live NextDraw — a next-generation, "significantly faster" pen plotter machine.

Gareth Halfacree
5 months agoHW101

Desktop computer numeric control (CNC) machine specialist Bantam Tools has announced the acquisition of Evil Mad Scientist — bringing co-founders Dr. Windell Oskay and Lenore Edman to New York to serve as Bantam's new chief technical and chief operating officers.

"We are excited to announce the acquisition of Evil Mad Scientist and its amazing art machines," Bre Pettis, Bantam Tools' chief executive officer, says of the deal. "I've been a fan of the art plotters and have been using them for years. We have an amazing year planned where we intend to release several new and different creative machines.

"This acquisition will help accelerate these new products, and we are very excited about bringing on these innovative and creative machines and Evil Mad Scientist's co-founders. I’ve been friends with Windell and Lenore for almost two decades since my days at Make: Magazine. We share a love of creative tools that empower our users."

"We are thrilled to be joining forces with Bantam Tools,” says Oskay of his new role at the company. "With my background in atomic physics, I bring nearly 30 years of machining and designing computer controlled instrumentation. I am especially looking forward to leading technical development and harnessing the combined experience of our hardware and software engineering teams to build the next generation of creative machines."

Oskay and Edman founded Evil Mad Scientist back in 2006, designing a range of products including the AxiDraw pen plotter family — compact CNC-controlled art machines with software offering "handwriting-like results" for the automation of certificates, invitations, and maybe even for cheating on your homework. It's this which brought the company to Pettis' attention at Bantam Tools — a company, formerly known as Other Machine Co. and acquired by Pettis in 2017 following his departure from MakerBot Industries, which specializes in desktop CNC machines.

"I'm also excited to be joining Bantam Tools and bringing to the company a focus on customer service and product documentation that has been so important to us at Evil Mad Scientist," adds Edman, who will now be Bantam's chief operating officer. "I'll be continuing to support our existing customers with love and a supply of spare parts. I hope they'll be as excited as I am about what my fantastic team at Bantam Tools will be building next."

The acquisition means the end of the AxiDraw range, though existing customers will continue to be supported through the provision of spare parts. The core concept will live on, though, as the Bantam Tools NextDraw — an upgraded AxiDraw-style device available in three sizes, supporting from A4 to A1 paper sizes, and with updated firmware and a new brushless pen-lift motor which offer a claimed "significant" improvement in drawing speed over the AxiDraw family.

More information on the Bantam Tools NextDraw is available on the company website; pricing has not been confirmed, but sales are expected to open in spring this year.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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