Additive Manufacturing Strategies

Finally! July 1 Arrives & Tiko 3D Printers Ship from China, Team Works Together in Assembly & Operations

ST Medical Devices

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The Tiko 3D team in China, pulling together to get shipping started on July 1.

I think the Tiko 3D printer might indeed have been the one I was waiting for—but I hesitated and now am one of the many kicking themselves over being a Kickstarter no-show last year. At a mere $179 (and an enviable early bird price of $99) the ‘how can you go wrong’ question is posed here, with the answer being that you probably can’t, and won’t in the long run, considering the dedicated team behind manufacturing this machine in a super hands-on way. The compact delta-style 3D printer with a unibody design features a modest weight of 3.7 pounds, measures at 15.4 x 8.7 x 9.3 inches, and offers a 2.27 liter print volume. It’s durable and it’s undeniably affordable. So what in the world is the catch here?

Well, you might just have had to be patient. Very patient. Monumentally, historically patient. Although the team has come a long way since we first learned of them, telling the world about their soon-to-be released and super affordable printer, and then on to their range of impressive and ongoing stress tests, there has certainly been some, ahem, minor tension due to a bit of a wait for many—including those who got in on the $99 super early bird Kickstarter price. Delays stemmed from numerous and ongoing issues since, well, last November, but they seem to have been wholly and finally solved, with the whole Tiko 3D team in China together now dealing with the final fallout from outsourcing headaches.

The good news is: they have taken the reins themselves and purchased their own factory in China. The bad news is: they are being forced to wait a short time longer until they can actually get operations started in that quite impressive building. Extensive paperwork ensues, and they most likely have at least another two-week wait before they can start completely moving in and beginning official factory operations there. So, wait, wait, and get ready to wait some more has been the mantra up until now.

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The Tiko did exceptionally well in stress testing, falling six feet with no repercussions.

If you backed the campaign last year you are probably now getting very excited about impending shipping despite the past several months, and you’re probably also very glad you aren’t experiencing the stress the Tiko 3D team probably has been bearing over the last seven or eight months. First it was ‘some turbulence’ in November, and then some issues with the bearing tolerances and the liquefier nozzle. After that came more delays, more testing, and more timelines with ‘no magic number on the horizon.’ By March there were issues with the accelerometers, and then more technical issues.

The team was great about staying in communication with their backers, however, and I would imagine this was one of the better hold-ups via Kickstarter simply because they did provide so much evidence that they were working hard to stay on track. Some more fixes came along, and then the big announcement that they were buying their own factory after issues with manufacturers—but the relief for all to hear just recently was that they would stay on track no matter what:

“Missing the July 1st deadline was not an option. So in the meantime, one of our awesome suppliers has opened up his facility to us, allowing us to start production right away,” states the team on Kickstarter. “The space is limited, and because we can’t technically hire our own workers we have to borrow some of his.”

tiko5-1024x768All in all, Tiko 3D seems to be holding it together pretty well through these challenges, and considering that they raised $2,950,874 from 16,538 backers in April 2015, we’re going to assume finances are okay as shipping is due to start, indeed, July 1. Their last update relayed the final issue being resolved, with the whole team there together and still keeping a stiff upper lip.

“The bowden tubes were still popping out,” the team explains. “At first we assumed it was the flare/fitting, but it turned out to be something much deeper than that. It was a scary moment, but together with our dedicated crew of engineers and the help of some awesome suppliers, we pulled through!”

It would appear that shipments are being staggered, and if you read the comments section, you will see that people are very, very eager to get their Tikos.

“Now, given that we’re short on staff and space, we’ll have to start slow and work our way up. We’ll only be able to ship a couple of hundred printers this week, but by next week it will be closer to 500, and once we move the operation to our factory it’ll be in the thousands,” states the team on Kickstarter. “By the end of July we’ll reach full steam ahead – approximately 10,000 printers per month. This is limited only by the production rate of certain components, however we’re making additional molds and expanding that capacity over the summer, so the sky is the limit!”

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Soon, Tiko 3D will move into their new factory space in China.

Once shipping starts, backers can expect to receive their printers between late July and mid-September. Although it may be too late considering the time difference with China, if you haven’t realized this already, it’s very important to have had all your shipping information emailed to the team by July 1—and if you have had a hold up or problem on that for some reason, they are instructing backers to PM them on Kickstarter.

While we all get excited about buying what seems to be a quality 3D printer at a great price, all too often in this industry that does end up being too good to be true. With the energy, enthusiasm and drive behind the Tiko 3D team, however, we are rooting for them and all of their backers, hoping that shipping takes off without a hitch. Are you waiting on a Tiko? Discuss over in the Tiko 3D Printers Shipping out July 1 forum at 3DPB.com.

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