For the last week or so, there has been several articles and videos, about the demise of PrintrBot. I had a chance to meet Brook, I am not sure if it was this year of the previous year at MRRF. Great guy with a lot of energy and great ideas. His continuous build plate conveyor is a thing of beauty. In the end, it is always hard to watch the end of something that great.
I started doing the 3D printer thing about a year and half ago, and I am going to be totally honest, I looked and never saw a thing about PrintrBot. Inexpensive was what I was looking for, not cheap. I knew that when I got started I wanted to understand the engineering. Not to just print things. I do print a lot of things. As has been said multiple times, by multiple people; there is a printer out there for everyone.
In the video that Tom put up, Brook talks about “made in America” and how the cheap chinese printers destroyed the US market by playing to the nature of American pocket books. He also talks about Prusa, and how great that they are, ugly; but great. They are made in the Czech Republic. Not in America. He did say very clearly, that the end was his fault and that he did not adjust to the changing market. I appreciate someone that is willing to take it on the chin for what happened. To many times we blame something or someone else.
I have had a chance to experience this situation first hand. Baprojectworkshop.com was just an idea, something that happened about 2am midweek sometime in May of 2017. I was building some electronics for my printer. I had shared it with the community and the messages exploded. Everyone wanted one, needed one and had to have it. Over the next 6 months or so, my tiny design blossomed into something incredible well thought out and quality made. Not here in the US, but in England. About a year later, the software was finished, website built, support in place, and then open for business.
It has been an experience that I will never forget, and I learned that no matter what, I need to follow my gut. It turns out that everyone wanted one, but no one wanted to pay for it. I knew that the product was going to be expensive; not as expensive as it turned out. A year later, there is all kinds of inventory and no sales anywhere. Two things happened; the CR-10 came along, and the hard core tinkers where just not willing to see the value in the product. Earlier this year, 24 volt supplies became the standard. This has effectively killed the product in the 3d printer space. I priced the product, with a significant amount of features, for $65. Support, software, everything. Would I pay this much for this, I will be honest; I am not sure. Todate, there is no profit, no sales, no emails. My manufacturer is sitting on all sorts of hardware that I doubt that we will ever get sold. He is currently the only one that has made back something from this project. In the end, no matter what, I will try like hell to make him whole.
I knew that things were not going well, when Gina, the creator of Octoprint, unsubscribed from my monthly newsletter. When the creator of the targeted environment is not interested in what you are doing to extend their product, something is really wrong. I continued to ask myself, how does Tim sell EZABL for what he does? It does one thing, does it very well, and he has an incredible market for the product. The CR-10 is designed to be that inexpensive printer. Designed for users that want to create things, and do not want to play with the hardware. Tim has done a great job. Creality has now hit the market with their own version and I believe the market for his product is eventually going to go away.
My stomach told me from the beginning, pricing was going to be a problem. I have had more sales from outside the US. This speaks volumes that Americans do not care about anything but their pocket book. To be honest (again), I am no different. I would buy everything American made, however it is to expensive, and in a lot of situations you cannot get it from the states. That is the facts. There are electronic components that I just cannot get from a US manufacturer. I have tried. Here is another example, do I pay $35 to $50 for a roll of Proto Pasta filament, or $20 for Inland Micro. I will be honest, I have no spools of Proto Pasta. I tried and love their HTPLA, and it is fantastic material. However, I cannot justify the cost.
So here is what has changed, I am back to doing things that I want to do. I am not allowing anyone to influence my decisions. Just like Brook said, this is my fault; no one else’s. I have gone back and am working on the equipment that I wanted, and am looking at markets outside of 3d printing. I am doing this, because this is what I wanted to do from the beginning. It is what I would pay for. If I never sell another item, I will be satisfied that I tried hard to make this work. The site, products, etc are not going anywhere. I am not in Brook’s situation. Thank God. My attention is going to be in other places, doing and making other things.
Thanks to my wife Lisa, for supporting me during this adventure. Steve, you are the smartest guy that I know and your friendship means alot to me. Justin, you are a great friend and inspiration.