The Top 6 Most Funded 3D Printing Kickstarter Projects
3D Printing has lost a bit of its luster lately with the Nanalyze 3D Printing Stocks motif down -33% since we first created it 6 months ago leaving us to wonder, is now the time to invest in 3D printing stocks? While 3d printing stocks have fallen out of favor, there seems to be no shortage of interest in 3D printing projects on Kickstarter, a crowdfunding platform that essentially lets you buy a product before it’s built. Sound like a shady value proposition? Many times it is, and that’s something we warned investors about before. Still, there are over 830 funding propositions that contain the term “3D printing” on Kickstarter today. Here’s a look at the top-5 most highly funded 3D printing projects on Kickstarter so far.
(#1) The M3D raised over $3.4 million in April of 2014 over the period of a single month when they only wanted to raise $50,000. This low cost 3D printer claims to be the most space-efficient, quiet, and lowest power consumption 3D printer on offer today. Printers started shipping in late 2014, and as of June 2015, they had shipped about 90% of Kickstarter pledges. As of September 2015, they had shipped 99% of all Kickstarter pledges and you can now order one of these printers for $449 with a 1-week turnaround time.
(#2) The Tiko raised over $2.9 million in April of 2015 over a single month with an initial target of just $100,000. At a price point of $179, the printer is touted as “high quality and easy to use, while keeping costs down”. Deliveries were expected to begin in November of 2015, but not surprisingly there have been some delays with disconcerting updates being made such as the one below:
The tolerances we require are simply too challenging for mass production with our (previous) manufacturer – nobody warned us back when we designed and prototyped it.
As of the last update, the team sent some nice pictures of them traveling around China trying to sort everything out. While there is no concrete delivery date yet, these updates seem to be keeping customers happy for now.
(#3) The 3Doodler raised $2.3 million in March of 2013 to build the world’s first and only 3D Printing Pen which uses ABS plastic to allow the user to draw 3D objects. At a price point as low as $50 a unit, the campaign wrapped up in November of 2014 with all the pens shipped on time. While they intended to launch in December 2012, they delayed the launch in order to spend more time working on their prototype and visiting factories in order settle on the factory they used for their Kickstarter campaign. Tiko team, take note here. (#4) The 3Doodler 2.0 was a second campaign from the same company which raised $1.5 million to produce a pen that is slimmer, lighter, quieter and even easier to use. They delivered on their promises for this project as well, and you can pick up one on Amazon right now for $99.
(#5) The Flux raised $1.6 million in December of 2014 to build their “all in one” 3D printer at a price point of $499. The company had a “stretch goal” of Wi-fi and real-time monitoring at $1.5 million raised which means now they must be scrambling to add this new software functionality. In their last update in December 2015, that appears to be exactly the case. They were expecting to begin “fulfilling Kickstarter rewards” in July 2015 but no printers have been shipped yet. They expect to update their backers in the next few weeks with some guidance.
(#6) The Buccaneer raised $1.4 million in June of 2013. There’s no point in talking about their product, because there isn’t one. It’s been well over two years now, and their last update in October 2015 stated the following:
What we are doing is stopping building too many of the current machine, go back into serious hardware mode, and build a machine that we can fulfill backers within cost and also to build a healthy foundation for the company.
That’s great. So if you pledged to this campaign, you spent at least $297 with nothing to show for it so far. This article by 3DPI talks about how the company behind Buccaneer, Pirate3D, has taken in $2 million in additional funding from outside investors. It also talks about how only 15% of refunds have been made with a refund wait list extending to at least September of 2016.
Just because a product raises large amounts of money on Kickstarter, it doesn’t say anything about the product’s future success. Think about that poor team from Tiko wandering around China trying to deal with Chinese manufacturing companies they have no experience with. As they hurry to sort out all the manufacturing details, what quality of product will they ultimately end up with? With their customers clamoring for delivery, how much time will they be able to take conducting system tests of their product before shipping it?
From an investor’s perspective, you’ll likely find some interesting 3D printing companies on Kickstarter, but you’ll be better served not pre-ordering products. At best you’ll get what you paid for on time, and at worst you’ll be frustrated having to wait much longer than anticipated, receive an inadequate product that hasn’t been fully tested, or in some cases lose your money entirely. The world is full of “wantrepreneurs” who have a great idea but lack the ability to execute which is 95% of what it takes to bring a product successfully to market.
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