Another Presumed Kickstarter Disappointment: 3D Simo

A simulated view of the elusive 3D Simo pen

A simulated view of the elusive 3D Simo pen

It appears that yet another 3D print-related Kickstarter campaign is struggling: 3D Simo.

The project was to produce a handheld “3D Pen” of some utility beyond just making structures by hand: “3D drawing, burning, soldering and foam cutting, all in one.” The launch campaign listed pricing for the small unit ranging from USD$79-99. Evidently this was a good price as the project attracted 1,822 backers raising a healthy USD$229,958 in the process. 

Except for one thing: that was in 2015. 

The estimated delivery dates for the unit were March of 2016, almost a full year ago. 

Today we’ve been receiving information from readers asking whether this company still exists and what’s going on. We don’t normally cover 3D pens, as we don’t consider them “3D printing” in any way, but it appears that many readers may have been caught in this situation. 

On the public comments page, there are numerous indications that the company is having big troubles: 

  • i want a refund!
  • Backer 329 still waiting. I hope to at least get some word on this soon.
  • Still waiting not only for my 3DSimo but also for an answer to my mails, message etc... 
  • Very bad communication ongoing here.
  • I have not received anything yet and am getting tired of waiting. What happened to the promise to update us every 14 days? This is unacceptable.
  • Any updates? Tired of trying to get any response out of these people!
  • Come on creator, come clean admit bankruptcy and the act you wasted money because you were not ready to deliver when you made the campaign. 
  • They send you a useless tracking number. I think they just make it up. They sent me a tracking number November 22nd and the shipping company still has no record of that number.

But then there is a little bit of evidence they are delivering: 

  • I did receive my two sets, including the filament, only missing the batteries. Both work and have been used quite a bit. Hopefully more are on their way for you all
  • i received one pen that never worked. got a new one plus a free one from a twitter contest. got the stand and samples. never got the charger.
  • I received mine around 2 weeks ago. I have yet to test it to see if it is all working ok.
  • They are bankrupt. It is all gone and what has been delivered, like mine, isn't that great either. I took it out to use the burned tip and while it works ... it wobbles and easily destroys the pen itself when in use. Clearly these guys had a poor first prototype and lost all money in trying to get a real one.

We’ve been able to find the company’s private update given to backers a few weeks ago, which says: 

Currently, we need to send out the products to approximately 400-450 of our kickstarter supporters.
Multiple problems have occured with the manufacture and production. Unfortunately, not all problems that are waiting will appear while testing the prototype. And these problems started to build up once we've began with the mass production. To solve these issues and problems did cost us a huge amout of effort and financial resources. I don’t have the exact calculation of costs for the trouble shooting, but making new components costed us 23000USD.
Another big issue was the shipping. And the worst was when a package has not been delivered and then returned to us. We have registered 280 of such packages, and we had to pay the shipping fee twice for every one of them. With that often came a customs fee as well, especially from Canada and Brazil. These unexpected costs reached an approximate hight of 13 000USD.
Because the budget was running down, we have decided to take a bank loan on te company. However, if the company won’t be able to pay for it, then the loan with all it’s costs passes to me personaly. And in my opinion, that is a good enough motivation to not make any more mistakes.

So we likely have yet another sad tale of a company attempting to produce a product without knowing how to properly do so. Running a business is a challenging matter, where you must plan for contingencies and manage cash flows, which apparently were not done here. 

As I’ve said before, you must be extremely careful in ordering materials from a crowdfunding campaign. You must do one of these two things: 

Be perfectly OK with losing your entire investment. For this, lower amounts are better: “I’m ok with losing $50 on this”. 

or

Have a way to determine the execution capability of the company by reading their material very carefully, looking for evidence of manufacturing capabilities, financial management and sales prowess. Companies run only by an individual, particularly a tech, are notoriously failure prone as the tech may know the technology but not the business or manufacturing aspects. 

For those who backed the 3D Simo, my sympathies to you. 

Via 3D Simo and Kickstarter

General Fabb

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has been writing Fabbaloo posts since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!

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