Every day we receive a bunch of solicitations to support crowdfunding projects from various places, and while we absolutely love the whole idea of public/fan sponsored products, there are areas where things need to settle down a little and get real. One such example is 3D printers, a hot new segment where idealistic dreams are often clouding better judgment and financial realities.
I have to admit being prompted to do this article by this excellent post on 3D printers called Low Cost 3D Printers And Crowdfunding Suicide, which really goes into intricate detail on the financials of some of these new 3D printer projects on Kickstarter, Indiegogo and beyond.
The bottom line is most of these low cost 3D printer projects (i.e. c $500) are probably going to fail before they get going because a) they need to generate so much more money from the crowdfunding or b) sell so many thousand printers to break even, that they’re doomed before they begin. It’s really kind of sad for the project leads, who typically haven’t thought enough about the issues involved in getting their vision off the ground.
Which leads me to a 3D printer project press release which arrived here the other day and appears to fit the whole sad scenario to a T. The Candy printer is the ‘first confectionary focused food 3d printer‘. The product is priced at £299 ($499), and is looking for £60,000 of funding. The team has developed a ‘pre-production prototype’, and is looking for funding to ramp up production. I’ll let the above article spell it out in brutal terms;
‘The company that sells a $299 printer and raises only $250k will have exactly $9,398 to pay 4 people for 6 months and covers marketing, legal, taxes, electricity, tech support… That company has a very short future. And again, this is assuming a perfectly smooth operation with a fully-developed printer and no delays or issues.’
Luckily the Candy project seems to be stalled at a 10th of the required budget and likely won’t be funded, which the team will no doubt look back on with delight in years to come, since the road ahead as it stands probably means ruin for their vision if they continue on the current trajectory.
So here’s the brutal reality for any other would-be 3D printer companies (or those who may wish to fund their ideas). The very lowest bottom line for these projects to succeed is several thousand printers manufactured at a significantly higher retail price than $500, and with upwards of $250,000 in crowd funds generated to start off with. Read the article and the figures speak for themselves.