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Warning: The 3D Printer Crowdfunding Hype Isn't All It Seems

3D printers are creating quite a ripple. I find it amusing how people are funding these projects of crowdfunding websites, and as far my understanding goes, you can even print your next home using a 3D printer! However, are these projects, which appear faster on IndieGoGo and KickStarter than we can count, really going to be successful? Data say that you should be careful before a fanciful idea catches your imagination and you decide to send half your salary so you can get it before others can.

Micro, The Highest Funded 3D Printer in KickStarter (Image: KickStarter)
Micro, The Highest Funded 3D Printer in KickStarter (Image Credit: KickStarter)

No less than 67 aspiring 3D printers completed their goals on IndieGoGo and KickStarter. They accumulated a total sum of around USD20.5 million! On an average, every project received $305,700 from the backers. Now that is not a bad amount at all.

[Sidenote: if you are homing a great idea and want some funding, the average donation per project in Kickstarter is much higher at $397,681 compared to IndieGoGo at $81,839. (Source)]

You would expect that with such gorgeous amount from backers, these printers all became a success and the happy backers are printing everything they can, including the neighbour’s Persian cat. The reality though is a bit chilly than that.

Only 32% (or one out of three) of those projects started shipping on time. In other words, only 22 of those perfectly funded 67 projects started shipping those printers. What happened to the remaining 45 projects? Well, they are very much behind the schedule. In fact, backers of many projects didn’t hear any progress from the initiators for months. Gigacom presented this fact in a nice visual.

Sucessfully Funded 3D Printer Campaigns vs the delay, highest grosser at the top.
Successfully Funded 3D Printer Campaigns vs the delay, highest grosser at the top.

Also read: 3D Food Printing is the next big thing, and it’s already happening 

As you can see from the image, bigger money doesn’t mean the project started shipping on time. For example, RigidBot garnered no less than 1.1 million dollars, significantly higher than the average and infarct 4th highest grosser and the shipment is delayed by 8 months as of now.

Moreover, if a company is telling you that they need longer time than their competitors, no need to think they are being candid and realistic. Gigacom also shows that companies which claimed they can build and ship in 8 months are delayed by 3 months on an average while companies who claimed they need 7 months are 6 months delayed on an average. In either cases, if you fund a project, you’ll have to hope that you get the product more than 1 year after you have paid for it. With technology evolving at the present speed, do you really want to pay now for a product which you will only get more than 1 year later?

This doesn’t deter the enthusiasts though. From 2011 to 2013, the funding for successfully funded projects have shown a growth of 500%.

If we go by the sheer amount of donations, the money to these projects already grown 700% from 2011 to 2013. When we add the figure for 2014, this balloon is inflated even more.

Incidentally, I checked ThePirateBay, world’s 2nd largest search engine after Google. They have a section called Physibles where you can upload 3D printing. The most seeded 3D printing ‘thing’ is a 3D printable gun. That’s a bit worrying.

Not The Future We Want To See (image: 3dprinter.net)
Not The Future We Want To See (Image Credit: 3dprinter.net)

Also read: Singapore Kickstarter Hero Pirate3D Sinks As It Fell Short On Meeting Expectations

Every technology should be used for the betterment of mankind. Otherwise, no matter how incredible the invention is, it should meet an early grave.

 

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