An announcement from XMachines on their Kickstarter page this week revealed the company will not manufacture desktop 3D printers as promised.
XMachines launched a crowdfunding campaign in April 2015, almost two years ago, promising the “Genesis 3D Printer”, “robust” dual-extruder filament machine that allegedly could 3D print layers as small as 0.05mm. For the time, it may have appeared as a reasonable option.
We did not cover the machine at the time, believing it to be a risky venture simply based on the retail cost of the machine. It was too low to succeed. We did post a story last November where their troubles began to surface. Backers had not received equipment and grumbling was rampant.
And there were a lot of backers: according to Kickstarter, there were 1,525 backers raising a total of USD$499,168.
In their November announcement, Machines proclaimed the company was at a pivotal point, saying:
Without decisive action the Company may not survive much longer. Fortunately, at the suggestion of family friends I was put in contact with experienced business and legal professionals to assist with our current situation. Chester Business & Innovation Law has been retained and is advising on our critical business contracts, strategy, protection and commercialization of our intellectual property, and both venture funding. They believe in the market opportunity for XMachines product technology and are working at NO charge to the Company over the next 90 days.
This week there was a more final update:
XMachines LLC does not have sufficient funds to manufacture additional rewards printers at this time. I believe the best course of action based on present circumstances is to pursue a strategic license or sale of the intellectual property. It is the Company’s hope that any license or sale agreement reached will allow XMachines to provide the Kickstarter Backers with their rewards. XMachines will provide updates to the Kickstarter Backers as developments warrant. While this obviously not the position in which we hoped to be, we continue to work hard towards a positive outcome for the Company and its initial backers.
In my opinion, this strategy has a very low probability of success, as the technology developed by XMachines two years ago has been overtaken by many others at this point. There would be few organizations having any interest in this project’s assets.
One of the primary challenges facing XMachines, their potential buyers and anyone attempting to produce a low-cost 3D printer, is the current availability of very inexpensive, relatively powerful equipment from proper manufacturers. When you can buy a USD$149 3D printer from Monoprice, small startup manufacturers have literally zero margin to launch a machine. In fact, XMachines’s target price, USD$249, is USD$100 more than Monoprice. Sure, the machines may not be comparable in function, but there’s little reason to spend risky money on a startup when you can get a guaranteed product from other vendors.
The time for low-cost 3D printer Kickstarters has concluded. The price window has closed and the news going forward will likely include several more low cost machine manufacturer failures.