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nexd1-suspendedWe were excited about the NexD1 3D printer from Germany-based Next Dynamics, and we weren’t alone. The 3D printer seemed versatile, multi-functional, and even promised the capability to 3D print electronics. While that last promise seemed too good to be true — after all, it’s taken Nano Dimension quite a while to commercialize their almost-market-ready proven PCB 3D printer — we joined the 3D printing community at large in hoping for the best here. The NexD1 was introduced in mid-December through the startup’s Kickstarter campaign, which almost immediately flourished, reaching its €200,000 funding goal quickly and indeed more than doubling it by last week.

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With no notice, a scheduled live stream was cancelled on Tuesday

And then it all hit the fan. As we saw recently, drama erupted surrounding not only the campaign, but the legitimacy of the 3D printer and the company behind it. As backers rightly wanted to know about the truth behind the promises, Next Dynamics began a pattern of disappointment. While crowdfunding campaigns may seem dubious anyway, they have seen the launch of several very successful desktop 3D printers over the last several years (as well as several that floundered). Sometimes failing to meet a goal can actually be in the company’s best interest, as 3devo saw; but failing to fulfill a promise is never in anyone’s best interest, and sometimes we’re merely left to hope that raised funds aren’t being used to, say, build a house instead of producing deliverables.

We don’t know the whole story in what’s been happening with the NexD1, because Next Dynamics isn’t being exactly transparent about their operations. 3DPrint.com has reached out to the company without response, so we’re left to go on the facts at hand. And the latest fact to emerge today in this complex cluster-fund is a cancellation — and not because Next Dynamics realized that they’d been shady or that their product was in fact not market-ready. Kickstarter pulled the plug on the campaign, suspending funding before any money changed hands. As of the time the of suspension, the campaign still had €363,994 pledged from 276 backers, a far cry from the last time we checked in with €469,940 pledged by 287 backers; many backers had reduced their pledge amounts to €1 simply to remain active in the discussion.

Kicktraq shows the course of the campaign through its suspension:

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[Image: Kicktraq]

As shared on the NDBackers Facebook group today, the Kickstarter Integrity Team sent a message to all backers, which reads:

“Hello,

This is a message from Kickstarter’s Integrity team. We’re writing to you regarding a project you recently backed — The NexD1 – The first Multimaterial & Electronics 3D Printer (Suspended). Following a thorough review, we’ve concluded that this campaign is in violation of our rules. Because of this we have suspended it. All funding has been stopped, your pledge has been canceled, and you will not be charged.

Kickstarter wholeheartedly supports projects that push boundaries, and pave the way for innovation. We pride ourselves in being a home to projects at the earliest stages of development, when there are still many steps before they’re ready to ship. That is only possible with the generosity and trust that backers like you bring to the Kickstarter community.

We aim to protect that generosity and trust by requiring a high degree of transparency, and clarity from creators. It’s important that you as a backer have a clear sense of the current state of development of any project you support.

The NexD1 team are welcome to re-submit their idea to Kickstarter for review at any time with this in mind.

Thank you for being part of this community.

Regards,
Kickstarter Integrity Team

All that we’ve heard from Next Dynamics recently has been through the Kickstarter page, where their latest update, designed to “alleviate any remaining concerns”, only did the opposite. They provided links to their YouTube channel, photos of prints, and supposedly 3D files for their prints in a folder that has never had any documents actually appear in it. The videos, as concerned parties were quick to point out, were not helpful in seeing the NexD1 actually in action; rather the opposite, as they only raised additional questions.

As backer Synvox pointed out, for example, following a frame-by-frame analysis of one of the released “print job” videos:

“The part which i marked with a yellow ellipse is just not possible to do in one swipe with no support underneath it (clearly visible that there is none) by the claimed kind of printing process (jetting resin from above and curing with light). This kind of bridging is just not possible here. Although it’s sometimes possible with [the] usual filament printers.”

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[Image: Synvox]

Other backers were a bit more blunt in their comments, calling out the company with what seems a simple solution that would have negated the drama. As Anthony Webb commented following the release of the latest unclear videos:

“Why does everything have to be stop frame? Cant you just show the thing in actual motion? With all the negative press you would think you would finally have the balls to just pull out that cell phone in your pocket and do a live stream (like you were supposed to do yesterday and cancelled without notice) and prove your naysayers wrong. Its clear you have neither a working printer nor any integrity.”

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[Image: Mark Greenwald]

Per the issue raised regarding copyright concerns of several designs found on Shapeways (a Mosaic Egg, The Code prize, and a color wafer) and claimed as prints from the NexD1, several backers noted that it was conceivably possible to recreate the designs without having bought them from Shapeways and without having the files released. Trying to keep some perspective in the matter, commenter Mark Greenwald said:

“So I see a lot of pitch forks here, but not a lot of objectivity.

If you set the play-back speed of the latest video down to 25% and jump to 00:40 in the video there is a momentary flash of white light. If you freeze on this frame you can clearly see color on the INSIDE of the egg. The outside still appears white.

For what it’s worth.”

In the photos provided by Next Dynamics, however, it looks to me as though the outside is not white at this point; perhaps this was a color trick of the white flash in the blue video? Several backers have speculated that this video was faked by actually cutting a purchased egg model down layer by layer on a printbed in a video, then reversing the footage, additionally citing the odd-seeming placement of the half-egg in the cylindrical outer support (along with the lack of internal support structure pointed out above).

Others have taken a more lighthearted approach to the disappointment, with backer Richard Kagerer offering the following:

“Most of us are holding our breath waiting for the allegations to be debunked or acknowledged, and the team is releasing new videos in an effort to convince skeptics.

Kickstarter backers tend to have tolerance for unexpected technical challenges, logistics delays, etc. but our expectation for transparency is uncompromising. It’s the foundation of trust between backers and creators. If the team is reading this, I urge you to respond candidly to the open questions. If you’ve backed the project, please take a moment to read through the comments… and monitor the latest communications from the company.

And in the meantime, if you already have a 3D printer, here’s a small gift from me to you.”

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[Image: Richard Kagerer]

There is a wealth of additional information (and speculation) available in the comments section, the Facebook group, and the longer-form rundown of events on JustPaste.it. For now, what we know is that the NexD1 3D printer will not be coming to a desktop near you any time soon. With Kickstarter having responded to backer complaints through violations of integrity, the Next Dynamics team will have a tough time of it going forward — if, indeed, they do.

The promise of the NexD1 was enough to garner international attention and interest, with hundreds of individuals proving eager to give their hard-earned money to support the development and release of this 3D printer. Should Next Dynamics decide to respond to the situation at hand and eventually try to relaunch their technology, they certainly have more than enough advice to draw from in the future. Many backers have commented on the shut-down campaign that they do wish Next Dynamics the best, and heartily hope to see a real NexD1 3D printer emerge at a later point, and in a better-run way. Our advice to Next Dynamics is to open up to the community about what happened; in a community built on an ethos of open source, transparency and honesty go a long way in establishing (or restoring) trust. If the team of German engineers can really offer what they said they developed in the NexD1, there is redemption yet to be had. In the mean time, you can make your own mini-NexD1 complete with egg from Kagerer’s file here. Discuss in the Next Dynamics forum at 3DPB.com.





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