- Reflecting on What We Accomplished
- Reviews Settling Towards 4/5 Stars
- Innovation in 3D Printing: Tough 3D Ink™ and ABS-R™ (20% Off Only for Backers)
- What We Would Have Done Differently
- International Delivery and New Decreased Shipping Costs
- Fill Out Our User Focus Survey (One Time Throwback $299)
- Enter Our User Print Image and Story Contest (Win Entire Tough 3D Ink Collection)
We are happy to congratulate you with M3D’s 2-year Kickstarter anniversary! Thanks to you, our project was not only funded, it was successful! How we define success is that the Micro established a whole new generation of products - and by extension you have voted with your dollars to decide what consumer 3D printing would effectively look like. Before the Micro was revealed, 3D printers rarely (if ever) had such minimalist designs, lower power consumption, a UL/CE safety rating, high space efficiency, affordable price points, and many color options. Auto calibration is now standard on many printers, as well.
While we recognize that many of these trends were emergent in our industry, we definitely feel that the influence of our campaign has inspired many new products. To our surprise, however, the Micro’s crowdfunding campaign still holds the Guinness World Record for the “Most Money Pledged For A 3D Technology Product.” We believe that this is due to our Kickstarter project’s great timing, the evolution of a sleek, space-efficient, affordable consumer 3D printer, and even a little luck.
We also have to credit Kickstarter itself, as well as backers who constantly research and support new projects, because a great service has been done for creators like us who started with just a dream. There is always a chance of failure, especially in today’s complex tech industry, and perhaps even a bit more so in the 3D printing space. There have even been a few sensational stories lately of some campaigns that did not make it. This is why your support is that much more appreciated. Together we’ve made the Micro a reality and established an innovative brand that created a new consumer product category and brought 3D printing to a much larger range of users.
Reflecting On What We Accomplished
Our initial team at the time of the campaign’s launch (April 7th, 2014) was only 7 people… and that has grown to about 70 full-time employees, contractors, and advisory team members! We’ve created many new jobs and filled highly technical and skilled positions in the fields of production, communications, marketing, software, engineering, finance, and management with talented and passionate individuals. We moved from the basement to a relatively massive headquarters where all research, coding, assembly, fulfillment, and customer support take place (Learn more at 3dprint.com).
One of our favorite accomplishments is that we’ve successfully grown a US-based manufacturing company and proven that we can compete on a global level (Learn more at forbes.com).
Yet, we are starting to feel like an island of manufacturing here in the US. We think it’s not only viable, but smart to manufacture in the USA. We believe that the key to our success is having everything happen under one roof. This allowed us to deal with issues in extremely short order. We could see how if we had a distant contract manufacturer or production facility, the issues would stack up and solutions would be delayed if not even catastrophically late. We realize that every country can produce both awesome and shoddy products, so we feel the key issue is the physical separation of the design, production, and management teams. So, we are quite perplexed that so many companies, especially ones with much greater experience and funding, have seen hardship lately, especially in tandem with moving production overseas (Learn more at aniwaa.com).
Another thing we’ve seen happen in the industry is aggressive product line expansion, whereas our focus has been to hone a single product experience based on user feedback. Basically, we aim to do just one thing and to do that really well before moving on to something new. We chose this strategy because we see that 3D printing is only just starting to move away from the first adopter stage. Lots of users initially purchased their 3D printers largely out of curiosity and now that 3D printing has become so accessible, people are starting to focus on the technology’s practical and creative applications for day-to-day use. We believe that it’s our job to educate these potential users and this is where we need your help (Please see our user feedback survey and print contest below)!
As part of this focus, we’ve become a leader in making new 3D Inks, such as Tough and ABS-R, which were developed and inspired by your feedback. We have heard many people say that they want materials with low-warp, no-odor, and strong adhesion so that they hold up in real world use. That's exactly what we’ve created with these new offerings! Learn more at 3dprint.com and keep reading for a backer-only promo code!
We’ve also stuck to our promise to keep the filaments open. Our philosophy is to provide users with value rather than to force them into a razor-and-blades strategy. We now offer more color and material options than anyone we know in the industry!
Lastly, we’ve had enough time to hone our support strategy and have grown the team massively to meet the needs of so many users. We’ve also seen the growth of an exceptional online community of M3D enthusiasts & supporters. Our backer forum allows Micro 3D users to come together and share their 3D printing ideas, tips, and accomplishments. Micros are now produced quickly and efficiently so new orders are always shipped out within 1-3 days of the purchase date, and our support team is almost always online to help answer any of your questions.
Reviews Settling Towards 4/5 Stars
Along with everything we accomplished above, the M3D team has also been making great progress when it comes to tweaking the Micro 3D Printer, software, and support. All have improved tremendously over the past 2 years. Our product is getting very consistent marks of 7 to 8 out of 10 in press reviews and it looks like they will settle around 8 out of 10. This is because most reviews went live 6-9 months after printers were provided. We are consistently given high marks for design, low noise level, ease of setup, and compact size. Suggestions for improvement consistently include shortening print times and not having to be tethered to a computer. The majority of reviewers also recognize that the process of 3D printing itself requires some trial and error and that this aspect is not unique to M3D.
Overall we feel these ratings are completely fair, and note that they are actually among the best for budget 3D printers. In fact we are:
- #1 in “Entry-Level 3D Printer” - 3D Forged
- #1 in “Best Budget 3D Printer” - Tom’s Guide
- #10 across ALL 3D Product categories - "The 2016 Best 3D Printers" meta-review by Aniwaa
We also love quotes from these major press reviewers:
- "Small, inexpensive and downright adorable." - Computer World
- "The first true consumer 3D printer to hit the market." - 3DPrintingIndustry.com
- “Print quality is similar to printers at triple and quadruple the price point.” - 3DPrintingIndustry.com
- "Simple yet handsome design and is unusually (and blessedly) quiet in operation." - PCMag
- "If you've been looking to dip a few toes into 3D printing, this is one of the most affordable ways." - CNET
- "If you’re after a solid entry-level printer, look no further." - DIGITAL TRENDS Magazine
- "The Micro is a straightforward, consumer-friendly option that you can order today." - 3ders.org
- “This machine is a winner that I can recommend without reservation.” - Computer World "
- "Can be set up in 10 minutes or less even by a novice user." - Digital Editions
- “The dominate player in the consumer 3D printer marketplace.“ - Capitol Communicator
We appreciate the positive feedback from the press so far and seek to earn better marks in the future. As a startup competing with a few of the world’s largest 3D printer manufacturers, we consider this a great success.
The only thing that can be better than feedback from all of these widely respected sources above is your satisfaction, as well as continued excitement and willingness to incorporate the Micro into your day-to-day and professional use. Please share your positive experiences online! They are extremely encouraging and uplifting and inspire us to continue improving the Micro and invent new printing materials for you to play with. :)
Innovation in 3D Printing: Tough 3D Ink™ and ABS-R™ (20% OFF FOR BACKERS)
Just recently, we introduced new specialty filaments that allow consumers to 3D print truly useful objects. Tough 3D Ink™ and ABS-R™ are our proprietary blends not offered by anyone else. Tough 3D Ink is like leather in strength and feeling, and ABS-R is a drop-in replacement for traditional ABS (Learn more at printm3d.com and be sure to check out our uncrushable Tough Ink in the video below).
Since these new materials were not available as part of your backer rewards, we would like to give all backers a discount allowing you to stock up and fully test them out. Please feel free to use the coupon code 2YRKSINK to take 20% off of ALL individual filament spools at store.printm3d.com. This exclusive discount code expires at 11:59 p.m. EST on May 31st, 2016.
What We Would Have Done Differently
With all this great news, we want to humbly thank our original Kickstarter backers as well as our growing community of creators. We would like to look back and also reflect on what we could have done better. We take note of successes quickly but we spend most of our time focusing on feedback that would give users the best possible experience. Consumers have high expectations, so our philosophy is one of continuous and never-ending improvement. We also want other project creators in our place to learn from our mistakes.
ABS: One of the main things that we wish we did very differently during our Kickstarter campaign is offering printing with ABS filament. The Micro was in fact initially optimized to print with high-temperature materials like ABS and, while small objects can be printed with ABS, the options are limited. We expected people to largely use ABS for printing small figurines, and not for printing large objects like enclosures which would inevitably warp.
We did, however, realize that many of our backers supported the project because of Micro’s ability to print with high temperature materials like ABS. They want to use it because it has more durability than PLA and is better for making engineering parts. We were constantly tweaking the Micro in order to find adequate software settings for printing with ABS. The closest solution that we came to can be found in our Printing with Phantom White ABS support article. However, if we could go back. we would not have offered ABS. Even though the product supports it for expert users, we do not recommend ABS to novice users and have completely discontinued its sales on our website. Instead, we developed ABS-R, the best ABS replacement filament for engineering needs that The Micro handles beautifully. Please refer to the "Innovation in Field of Filament Making: Tough 3D Ink™ and ABS-R™" section of this update for additional information and an exclusive discount code.
Software Development: We also wish that we could have expanded our software team faster. We tested the software on several dozen computers in house and thought we had the bases covered… but we never could have predicted the long tail of isolated user issues that would surface in the field. At the time of our Kickstarter campaign, our software team was extremely small and therefore it took us longer than anticipated to develop a well-rounded software release. We have recently expanded our software team, so future software releases should be coming out with greater refinement. You will be able to access our latest software releases using the following links:
- Windows (V126.96.36.199): https://www.dropbox.com/s/h3th4jt1lkpr9ee/2016-05-06-setup_m3dbeta-V188.8.131.52.exe?dl=0
- Mac (V184.108.40.206): https://www.dropbox.com/s/4tr0x47aknd0p17/2016-05-06-v220.127.116.11-M3D.dmg?dl=0
Earlier software development could have also helped us ensure cross-platform compatibility. Due to limited time and manpower, we had to develop software one platform at a time. As such, Windows software was readily available while Mac was still being tested and updated. Supporting other platforms is still a priority as we continue to expand our team and resources, but the product by design is open to accepting G-codes and we’ve had some independent platform development that supports The Micro such as the M3D Fio.
Instructions: We should have spent a great deal more time investment in providing clear instructions for the following two processes: completing backer surveys and shipping payments, as well getting the Micro set up and running optimally.
During our Kickstarter campaign, we did not emphasize the importance of keeping your email addresses updated on Kickstarter and informing us of any changes via email. Some user accounts were automatically pre-registered on our backer portal using email addresses used to support our campaign, many of which seem to not be monitored resulting in our communications not reaching you. That’s why there are still a few backers each month who ask where their printer is and they are directed to complete their backer surveys and shipping payments on https://printm3d.com/portal/. Please reach out to us via the contact form on our website to follow up on your reward status. We are excited to hear from you and are looking forward to delivering those few remaining rewards.
As for the Micro itself, we wish we thoroughly explained that despite The Micro being so user-friendly and consumer-oriented, there will still be some learning involved, as with any 3D Printer. With any new technology, you will need to invest some time learning it's new concepts and processes. 3D printers will evolve towards better models of perfection over the next few years, so we suggest a little bit of patience with such new technology entering your homes. In the meantime, we will continue doing everything we can to make 3D printing easier and more intuitive.
EU Deliveries and VAT: Last, but definitely not least, one of the aspects that we wish to have handled better is the EU-friendly shipping. In one of our earliest Kickstarter updates we mentioned that our hope was to collect VAT and shipping fees from you in one transaction when we send out our backer surveys. Once this was done, we wanted to provide a direct delivery from within the EU to save the time it takes for customs inspection and post-delivery VAT charges.
We’ve attempted collecting and handling VAT on our end in every way possible, but it unfortunately did not work out no matter what approach we came up with. We sincerely hope that this did not cause any major inconveniences to our backers because, as explained by one of our backers on the Kickstarter comment board, "The difference is that you pay the courier the VAT (plus an admin fee) rather than paying M3D the VAT. Either way you still pay VAT." At this time we have to agree that the only way for us to ensure that your VAT payment is correct is for you to pay it directly to the carrier at the time of delivery.
International Delivery and New Decreased Shipping Costs
All things considered, we shifted our focus from collecting VAT to delivering your rewards safely and in a traceable manner. We’ve negotiated good international rates with DHL and UPS, and are providing USPS, UPS, and DHL tracking numbers for all domestic and international shipments on our M3D portal.
We have also managed to lower our international small package shipping rates significantly, making it more affordable for backers and customers to purchase accessories at store.printm3d.com and have them delivered WORLDWIDE! We very much appreciate everyone's patience and country-specific feedback that allows us to continue working on international shipping and improving everyone's delivery experience.
User Focus Survey
We are dying to get your opinion on The Micro, and what you’d like to see in future generations of this technology. Do you have any ideas for how we can improve? If so, help make the difference today by filling out our survey. This information will provide critical feedback that will guide the development and improvement of our products. To complete the survey, please click here.
Contact us by private message (KS) to let us know that you’ve completed the survey and we’ll send you a one-time Kickstarter anniversary throwback coupon code (to get a standard edition pricing at $299).
M3D’s User Print Contest
We want your best images and stories showing stunning prints or awesome projects. We want to know how The Micro has impacted your life. We will be choosing the most impressive projects as voted by the M3D team. The winner(s) of the contest will receive a bundle of our entire collection of our Tough 3D Ink ™ (12 colors in all valued at $216). In fact, we may even select multiple winners depending on the quality of submissions received. There is also no limit on the number of submissions, so feel free to submit as many of your best prints and stories as you would like.
Photo guidelines for entry:
- All images need to be well lit and of good quality.
- Entire print needs to be included in the photo(s). Please note: by entering the contest, you agree that M3D will have the right to use your content in its marketing and advertising.
- If you have a story about how the print affected you for the better or helped you achieve a major goal, please share! It will be considered a major plus.
Please enter here. The deadline for contest submissions is June 10th, 2016.
Good luck! We look forward to seeing what you guys are able to make!
We want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for making our idea a reality as having so much grassroots support for making this technology accessible was our biggest dream. Hopefully, it can help make some of yours come true, as well. A special shout out to everyone who’s been stopping by our booths at the trade shows - meeting you is truly an honor and a great pleasure. Thank you again for believing in us!
If you missed out on the Kickstarter campaign and have not ordered your Micro yet, you will be able to do so at store.printm3d.com. New orders are being shipped within 1-3 business days and you will be able to enjoy a great selection of products on our website. The Micro 3D Printer is now offered in two different packages: standard and retail, so be sure to check them out here.
The M3D Team