The M3D Pro - First Mega Update!
Fully Funded in less than 2 hours!
We want to thank all of you for helping us hit our funding goal in just a few hours!! We are grateful and excited to see so many of you sharing the dream of pushing 3D printing technology forward into a new standard of reliability & accessibility. What made this possible was the outpouring of support from original Micro supporters and current users - usually the silent majority, who have come out with massive support and encouragement - reminding us exactly why we do what we do. Thank you all again and to those who continue to join us as we take this exciting leap forward.
A quote from a backer that says it all:
"Very happy to back this at an amazing price. Kickstarter is a land of trial and error. I've backed 10+ projects and for a software guy, it's been a great lesson in how truly challenging it is to go from idea to finished physical product. These folks have done extremely well in making a very ambitious design goal a reality. My Micro M3D has printed over 100 parts for use at work, plus a few puppy dogs to get my kids interested in tech. The new filaments - ABS-R and Tough-Ink - have been great. I'm printing with no supports. 3D printing is not yet a "no brainer", push one button tool. For example, you do have to consider how your part will lay on the printer to get the best results... "
Thank you to Casey Wimsatt!
We love it when backers share what they've learned as this Kickstarter ecosystem has evolved into being more grassroots and honest, and less potato salad.
What Makes This Project Unlike Any Other!!
Looking ahead, we want to listen closely to what our backers have to say and hone our pitch, product features, and overall package based on your feedback. We want to identify the needs as you see them today, and then focus on them as stretch goals towards the later part of the campaign. We like the pace this campaign is taking, as we’ve attracted backers that are like-minded and that will allow us to focus completely on the development of the product, rather than trying to show perfect proof of concepts before the product is even ready (i.e. hype) which distracts from the real progress. We’ve been at this for over 2 years now, so we know what matters to you most (and to our own success as well) is delivering a high quality product with an excellent user experience.
To that end, we’ll be focusing largely on your input and comments in this update.
Overall reception to Pro and its features
We've had the last 10 days to watch what people's questions were and see how different aspects of our campaign were received. It’s clear that almost everyone sees the PRO as a having a great feature set for the price. It’s even starting to be called the "big brother" to the Micro, but the comparisons don't stop there. That's why we want to be extra clear on just how different these two products are. Bottom line is that that some backers want reassurance that the pro is pro quality. We get that, and that’s why we made our campaign 45 days long, so we could take our time to show you these features as the proofs come in. We’ll also continue to reiterate and highlight certain aspects of the project to reassure our backers that they are not just getting a bigger, slightly better micro, but instead a revolution in 3D printing.
The fundamental Pro design goals:
Based on the many things we learned from making the Micro, the Pro was completely redesigned with two key principles in mind.
A self-aware printer:
First, that every possible aspect of the printer should be closed-loop, so that it is self-aware and can correct issues on the fly, hopefully eliminating all typical frustrations with 3D printing.
Precision metal engineering:
Second, that every aspect of the printer should be precision engineered so that it is extremely rigid and predictably assembled, leading to a more consistent and standardized user experience. You’ll see this concept in the first look pre-production samples below!
The cost of precision engineering:
The Pro cost of goods is over 3 times that of the Micro. This is because we've replaced almost all of the plastic with precision metal parts that have ~15 times better tolerances. In fact the only thing the Micro and Pro have in common is the look of the enclosure, injection molded framing, and the style of the lead screws and H-gantries.
A grassroots campaign strategy
Our aim is to attract backers that understand our current stage of development and keep them engaged over the next few months as we make history. We’re aiming to under promise here from the start, we know that may mean fewer sales today and we’re completely happy with that. Based on your feedback (see questionnaire) we’ll identify several key user printing styles and we’ll let you know if they are practical uses of the printer or not. If we think it is not a practical expectation, we will let you know so you have time to reconsider your pledge. After we commit to the different styles, we’ll dedicate several members of our team to print 24/7 on in-house alpha tests and present how well we achieved those goals so we can let you know what to expect. For anyone who expects everything to be flawless, and demonstrated from the start we’re encouraging them to wait until after Kickstarter to back.
Comparing the Pro to the Micro
We understand that it is easy to make inferences because we have a legacy, unlike most projects on Kickstarter. But they’re apples and oranges as you’ll see in this early look video showing some of the precision parts we’ve got in recently, some as precisely accurate as 7.5 microns!
Also since so many of you asked we pulled a prototype from testing to show you a side by side of the Pro brutally winning a race against a Micro on the same print. Spoiler alert the Pro totally wins!!!!
Details About The Extruder
We’ve had numerous questions about our extruder, we realize that you want to know if the Pro has a serviceable, repairable, swappable head and professional bottom line. So let's look at a breakdown of the pre-production prototype.
Stainless nozzle (4) - The PRO is made with the hardest nozzle that we know how to make, it’s even even harder than tungsten nozzles because it’s not mild steel but stainless 303; It is about 40mm long with an M6 threading at the end (5). We've made the heater block one that can be easily installed or removed with a set screw (2), so the entire heater/thermistor assembly can be swapped, or just removed easily to change nozzles.
This one’s a surprise: Our nozzle has a unique PTFE (non-stick) coated tip (1) - giving cleaner shinier prints, consistent finishes especially on top surfaces, and less resistance against the nozzle during printing, all which leads to more consistent prints! It also keeps the system clean and free of any odors caused by filament that builds up on printers that have large exposed blocks.
The max temp of the system is recommended at 270C, although it is easily capable of higher temperatures, this is mainly because it is PTFE lined, which is necessary for PLA printing. On many printers the PTFE can degrade at higher temps causing jams, but in this system PTFE is further up the nozzle (4) where the the fan can maintain its integrity by keeping it a bit lower than 250C. The nozzle tip diameter is 0.4mm nominally (3), but we do expect to offer many choices of nozzle diameter by early next year as an accessory add-on. The fan is a heavy duty and quite expensive blower fan (7), which can push air with solid pressure and smooth flow rate. While achieving a noise footprint smaller than the Micro.
30 minute Q&A With All Things 3D:
Recently Michael sat down with Chris and Mike of All Things 3D to candidly talk about the philosophy behind how M3D is handling the development of the Pro. The link to the entire interview is here (https://youtu.be/5iEXFl5Oh6M)
Q&A Kickstarter Live Stream
We will be taking advantage of a new Kickstarter Live! feature this Wednesday evening at 6PM PST/ 9PM EST for a Q&A. Michael and other team members will be available to answer your questions and hear your ideas and comments as a live stream. We ask that you all join us for what will be an event of good information, good fun, and open back and forth between the team and you, our supporters.
Featured Frequent Questions
Victor Denisov @M3D LLC "it seems like Kickstarter doesn't allow you to skip shipping"
This was Kickstarter's advice to us when we were finalizing our campaign. We didn't realize that it would lock people in, but ultimately the goal is to collect a shipping payment of the right amount. If you are in MD or getting backer credit, it will be reconciled (and partially refunded if needed) in time.
Eric Says “Is there a way to know what the production versions will cost?”
The 2-year warranty is a Kickstarter special, and one that could easily add $150 to the retail cost. The heated bed is typically a $100 add on too. Nothing is certain, but we will say we don’t foresee the Pro retailing over $750 (approximately) once it is in stock.
Mike Smith says “With the micro u had the option of purchasing a clear printer…”
The Pro is one color right now - Shiny Black. That saves a lot of complexity and overhead in manufacturing. However we have plans in the works very long term for the possibility of clear, and medium term for different combinations of anodized highlights.
Laurin says "Can we expect to get CE certification for the Pro?"
Yes. The CE certification is a given for any product produced at volume to be imported successfully. However we are considering what options international backers may have - receiving a "product sample" to reduce the VAT bill would require not having the CE mark and might be an option for international backers.
As we move forward on the Pro we want to make sure our backers desires and expectations are in the front of our minds as we make decisions. To this end we are sending out a preliminary questionnaire to find out exactly what your exact expectations are for the Pro. We’re leaving this completely open-ended for now and it's very important to get feedback from as many of you as possible. Please follow this link to the questionnaire --> https://airtable.com/shrpOaKd4VKysH2WV
Our plan for future updates is to release a mega update every 1-2 months and as the largest milestones are reached or new offers and stretch goals are announced. We will also be putting out mini updates as we have more and more details about features and to show parts as they come in different stages of production. However the mini updates will not be announced to keep from spamming inboxes. If you want to receive alerts about ALL updates please sign up for the newsletter here: http://printm3d.com/pro
Breaking Ground - The Large Box Molds
Thanks to being funded early we paid our mold supplier a down-payment on the largest three molds so far. From what we have seen we’ve got rough cuts of metal blocks for the large face of the enclosure already and according to schedule. It’s great to be able to work with a trusted supplier on a new project and make so much progress in less than10 days. This helps reduce one of our main risk points with the project. To see our progress and what’s coming up, see the Gantt schedule below.
We’d like to highlight a very thoughtful article from one of the industry’s great writers, Kerry Stevenson with Fabbaloo. We had the pleasure of meeting the Fabbaloo team back before the Micro launched. They were cautious with us as they are with any new firm. That’s why it means a lot to have this well-informed write up now that we’ve launched the Pro. http://www.fabbaloo.com/blog/2016/8/15/m3d-launches-kickstarter-for-the-m3d-pro
We are continuing to test & validate our systems & features at full speed and have been getting great results. We can't wait to show our progress in future updates. Thank you to everyone that has suggested examples and features you wish to see demonstrated. As prototypes become vetted and features finalized, we will demonstrate the most requested examples. Thank you all again for your support. We will see you in the next update!