There’s been much talk lately about the recent influx of startup 3D printer manufacturers seeking funding on crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo. After a couple of 3D printer campaigns had to cut their fund seeking short, once realizing that their own numbers did not add up, there has been a general sense of mistrust among the 3D printing community.
For a period of several months, it seemed as if each new 3D printer, launching on either Kickstarter or Indigogo, set out to undercut the price of the last. Prices continued to drop, until last month when it all culminated in the cancellation of a Kickstarter campaign for a $99 3D printer called the Mota. Why was it canceled? Because the creators of the machine figured out that it was impossible for them to create such a printer at such an incredibly low price point. At least they were honest about it, right?
Here we are a month later, and another controversy is brewing. Between the dates of July 8th and August 7th, a man named Jeremiah Clifft launched what seemed like the perfect 3D printer. A machine which he called the Cobblebot was priced so low that it seemed too good to be true.
Cobblebot launched their Kickstarter campaign seeking $100,000 in funding, in order to commence production on the machine which featured a 15″ x 15″ x 15″ build envelope. Additionally, it featured a hot end capable of reaching temperatures in excess of 400C, as well as a large LCD screen, and quite the impressive group of specs. All this starting at just $299. 3D printing enthusiasts went wild. Comments like “this is almost too good to be true” were seen posted on various forums. In the one month that their Kickstarter project ran, Clifft brought in over $373,000.
From the very start of the campaign, however, there were skeptics, many of whom backed the project for $1, just for the ability to speak out and ask tough questions to Clifft. Many questioned Clifft’s ability to create a 3D printer which features components that add up to almost $1000 themselves ,if purchased separately. Clifft claimed that his ability to negotiate with suppliers on prices is one of his strong points, and he attributes this skill to how he is able to offer such an exceptional product at a nearly-impossible price.
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In the last few days Clifft decided to cancel all 34 of the $1 pledges he received from backers on his Kickstarter campaign, meaning that those who were commenting on the project, asking tough questions of Clifft could no longer be heard. All the while, last night, Cobblebot launched a secondary campaign to raise even more funds on the popular crowdfunding platform Indiegogo. Here, Clifft has set up a flexible funding campaign (he will take in any of the money raised, whether reaching the stated goal or not), in which he has made available an additional 400 Cobblebot 3D printers for just $299.
As an attorney himself, you would think and hope that Clifft would not be purposefully misleading individuals, as doing so could equate to a real legal mess in the future. Perhaps the Houston based attorney does have connections and negotiating skill which will enable him to fulfill the hundreds of thousands of dollars in orders he has received, based on promises which certainly do seem ‘too good to be true’.
If Clifft can come through, and provide a 3D printer which performs like he claims it will, to the hundreds of individuals who have trusted him with their money, it will certainly be a breakthrough within the industry. It will be interesting to follow this story and see what outcome may arise. There is a fairly long forum thread pertaining to this situation in the Cobblebot Forum at 3DPB.com.
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