Troubled 3D printer manufacturer Pirate3D continues to operate, according to a report in The Straits Times.
Pirate3D is one of those relatively early 3D printer startups that gained a large following on crowdfunding sites, collecting quite a large number of product orders.
For many companies, and apparently Pirate3D, the success in raising orders is followed by the huge challenge of delivering products to eager backers. While it’s difficult to create a great machine, it is even more challenging to build them in large quantities in a reliable and cost-effective manner.
According to The Straits Times, a Singapore-based publication in the same locale as Pirate3D headquarters, the company raised almost USD$5M from investors and product orders, and was able to ship some 200 Buccaneers by August 2014, their first desktop 3D printer. However, the Kickstarter campaign attracted thousands of backers, and the company had difficulty delivering the units. They even offered those waiting a refund in lieu of a machine. However, according to The Straits Times:
But these refunds have since stopped, with Pirate3D now trying to raise another $2 million to $3 million to fund the production of a new machine using the latest 3D technologies.
This doesn’t sound promising to us. If you’ve raised money to deliver machines, you must deliver them with the money you’ve raised. Raising additional money suggests the cost of producing the Buccaneer exceeds their original estimates, or the cash was used inefficiently in some way.
It’s unclear what will happen next to the company. They could raise additional funding to continue, but investors would clearly have a number of questions before providing funds.
The moral of this story is one we’ve told before: Before investing in a startup company, be fully aware of the company’s capability to deliver as well as the product specifications.
Ask yourself whether the machine is priced too low relative to comparable machines without good reason. Look for signals that the company is serious about delivery: have they shown images of machine components being assembled, for example.
Backing a new idea is a good thing, however. That’s how progress is often made. However, if the offer seems too good to be true, it likely is.
Meanwhile, 3D Hubs is stepping into this situation, by offering a 3D printing credit of USD$300 in printing services to any who can prove they were left without a Pirate3D printer. The say:
Are you one of the 3,389 who pledged over $300 to receive a Pirate3D Buccaneer 3D printer but have been left without one? We feel for you. Through the rest of 2015, we’re offering Pirate3D backers $25 in 3D Hubs credit to give our service a try. Simply send us proof that you were one of the backers of Pirate3D to pirate3D@3dhubs.com, and we’ll promptly send you a voucher.