We had a very hard time finding Afinia at CES; they seemed to have the absolute worst booth location of any vendor – at the almost deserted corner at the far end of the top floor of the south building. Almost no foot traffic existed, which while not the greatest for Afina, permitted us to speak at length with their VP of Operations, John Westrum.
We asked about their personal 3D printer, the H-Series, which looks very suspiciously like an Up! Plus.
It turns out it actually is an Up! Plus, as Afinia has made arrangements with Tiertime, the manufacturer of Up!. But are they simply a reseller?
Not really. Afinia works closely with Tiertime to test and improve the Up! specifically for the North American market. With Afinia’s suggestions, the device is now much more friendly out-of-the-box, is FCC certified (apparently a rare thing among personal 3D printers).
Afinia also provides a significant amount of service. According to Westrum, Afinia has six full time service staff and a call centre on hand to provide advice and repairs. They do not ship machines to Tiertime for repair; they do repairs themselves. They always test new software, firmware and hardware before they release it to their customers, sometimes leading to slight delays as compared to Tiertime’s release schedule.
When asked whether the machine violates any patents held by the big 3D printer manufacturers, Westrum said, it’s “patent free”.
Who is Afinia, anyway? Evidently they’re a 20 year company that previously specialized in CD/DVD publishing; now they’re moving into a new market: 3D printing. Has it been successful? Westrum would not quote any numbers, but said they’re business has been “fantastic growth, phenomenal”.