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Pirate3D — The Agony and the Ecstasy of Crowdfunding Leads to Crucial Private Investment

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If there was ever a campaign that demonstrates the possible perils of crowdfunding, it may well be the story of the Kickstarter agonies involving the Buccaneer 3D printer from Pirate3D.

The company scored $1.44 million in crowdfunding back in 2013, and everything looked rosy indeed for the Singapore-based 3D printer manufacturer. But a series of delays in delivering their printers and manufacturing problems led the company to return nearly 15% of their campaign funds to angry backers. If that wasn’t enough, they also suffered through dealing with a “copycat” crowdfunding campaign which popped up on Indiegogo and muddied the waters even more.

But it appears the company will arise from the ashes and ill will.

Image 31Pirate3D has just raised $2 million in a round of seed funding from individual investors, and one of those investors is heavy-hitting investment firm Low Capital Management of Singapore.

“Mistakes were made, but overall it’s been great,” says Roger Chang, the CEO and co-founder of Pirate3D. “Our new round of fundraising is just about done. We are ramping up to high volume production, and we are preparing for retail sales.”

Brendan Goh

Brendan Goh

Chang says that the process of building a hardware prototype and then making sure it can be effectively manufactured was a “very long, technically challenging, and resource intensive process.”

Pirate3D says this latest infusion of capital will go toward fulfilling orders and refund requests, expanding the company’s research and development team, and speeding manufacturing processes.

Brendan Goh, the co-founder of Pirate3D, says this latest round of funding will not only help his company survive the challenges they’ve faced, but it will ensure that Pirate3D delivers on their Kickstarter commitments, in an interview with Tech in Asia.

According to Goh, one key strategy for the company is expanding markets to include the Middle East and Africa and adding marketing channels via retailers and distributors.

“We realize that 3D printing doesn’t fare too well on plain big box retail,” Goh said. “Retail becomes more of a showroom which is something most brick and mortar retailers are seeing with most products actually.”

Image 32He says Pirate3D also plans to add new product lines and adds that a larger version of their 3D printer, the Buccaneer, is in the works.

Goh says this new model will be aimed at professional users such as architects and designers, and he adds that success will mean a shift away from consumer markets toward higher-end users.

“I wouldn’t say consumer printers won’t work but when you deal with a certain segment and you see some needs there, why leave money on the table?” he says.

The FFF-based Pirate3D Buccaneer features a max print volume of 136 x 100 x 146 mm, highest layer resolution of 50 microns, using 1.75mm filament and a 0.4mm nozzle diameter. It is a good-looking product which features an extruder machined from a single piece of aluminum and a removable, non-heated platform. The Buccaneer has a current price tag of $1,099 (USD).

Crowdfunding is generally a great way for nascent companies to raise funds to build their dreams. The Pirate3D story? A different animal. Let us know if you were a backer or your thoughts on such crowfunding efforts in the Pirate3D forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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