Startup ProtoCrate now offers a “filament of the month” subscription service.
It seems like a reasonable idea: 3D printer operators use their machine and have to keep it fueled with materials - and designs. ProtoCrate’s new service works like this:
- You select what size of filament you require, 1.75mm or 3.00mm
- You pay USD$50 per month
- ProtoCrate delivers a package containing a 1kg spool of filament and other goodies
- You use the plastic and goodies to make stuff!
But what are the “other goodies”? ProtoCrate will develop a “theme” for each month’s shipment, which will include a tutorial, special tooling (like brushes, for example), parts (like LED lighting or magnets) and a matching 3D print. All components of each month’s shipment will relate to a single project that you can make with your machine. The image at top shows what you might typically expect to receive in a given month's shipment.
This could be a great idea for those folks that don’t always have an idea to develop on their 3D printer, since the subscription provides not only the material to print, but also an achievable project.
It’s highly likely you’ll not use 1kg of material for each month’s project, so you will accumulate partly-used spools for other projects. Given the nature of the service, expect to soon have a spool “library” of many colors.
Is there a downside to this service? There are some things to consider.
First, this is very reminiscent of the long-defunct “record of the month” clubs of the past, where you did receive items each month, but often they weren’t to your liking. ProtoCrate will have to do an exceptional job carefully selecting each month’s project to ensure their subscribers continue.
Second, you will likely be short of specific filament colors or types for other projects in spite of paying USD$50 per month for plastic. You will probably buy other filament anyway.
Thirdly, ProtoCrate will have to maintain the highest quality standards for their shipped filament each and every month. Any issues will quickly cause subscribers to cancel and go elsewhere.
Finally, the cost is USD$50 per month, which includes shipping. But the shipping cost is only included to US destinations. For Canada shipments, for example, you will be required to add USD$20 per month, for a total of USD$70 or CAD$88, which is not such a good deal anymore. Shipping elsewhere is likely even more tragic, which reinforces our notion that plastic filament is truly a regional business.