A great question was posted on the kickstarter comments that I want to briefly address – essentially asking “Can you do this?!” Read the full text below…
First off, congrats. on a successful funding.
Second, do you think that you will realistically be able to deliver 80-100 kits in 2+ months?
I have one of the ciomplete kit orders in, but I’m trying to gage when you realistically might be able to get all of the parts from the suppliers, make your plastic component set and ship them out.
How many kits are you likely to be able to complete per day?
Do you have help?
I’m not being negative, but I’m speaking both as an interested customer and also as a business owner myself.
I really appreciate this type of thinking! This is my kind of guy. So I will do my best to answer.
We are a team
I started a RepRap meetup group after building my first 3D printer and starting my second. From the very first meetup, I had a core team of devoted RepRappers who were new to 3D printers, but who are proffessionals in software and hardware. So from day one, I let everyone know: “I am building a business to sell 3D printer kits, but I want to help you all build bots first.”
We have had a ball from day one. I pulled out all the stops to get the goods to everyone who wanted a 3D printer. I gifted parts, made molds to try the clonedel thing (hated that, btw), sold everything at cost or even below. At the last meetup, we had a dozen or so 3D printers scattered about and more in the wings.
A couple from the meetup have partnered with me in various ways to crack this nut. More specifically, to bring down the cost of owning a 3D printer. Carl is a retired HP guy who ran a failure lab for years. If you know what that is, you are feeling good about the hotend right now. Its simple, not fancy, uses as many off-the-shelf / easily available parts as humanly possible, and will simply be a great value. The design is constantly being improved and we began from the beginning to be able to scale production.
Steph, another meetup original, redesigned the Sanguinololu electronics and called it the Teensylu. She took an important step forward by moving from through-hole to largely surface mounted electronics.
Laine, a talented electrical engineer and software guy has designed a derivative of the Teensylu electronics to meet the requirements of the Printrbot. We have planned to scale the electronics from the very beginning and have secured multiple quotes from multiple sources INSIDE the USA. We are not going for the cheapest price – we are going for the highest quality, best value, and most predictable sourcing chain. The supply chain has been a problem in this Reprap world for a while now and that needs to go away, even if it does cost a bit more up front.
I am self employed
I work from home already, with my wife. We run a web design / hosting company. We have been doing that for about 6 years. Flexibility is in abundance at the Drumm household. I will be working on this project, essentially full time until we have a sustainable, viable business. This will be my first priority.
Scale and Sustainability is a Prerequisite
I am starting to sound like a startup salesman – crap. Let me just say this…. I am a family man and a middle-aged one at that. I just turned 40. I have a wonderful wife and 3 great kids who are all my top priority. Studying this problem for the last year, I have thrown several approaches out the window. Specifically, the ones that don’t scale. I am aproaching all levels of the manufacturing and build process from a scalable perspective. If it doesn’t scale, I am not doing it. If I can’t sustain this process, I will approach it a different way. I will sacrifice my bottom line, but not my family. Sounds cheesy, but that’s the deal.
Time is on my side — yet, a challenge, of course!
Even though the growth of the kickstarter looks overwhelming, its not. Any problem can be solved. You know the rest of that phrase…. “with enough time and money”. Well, I am about to have “enough” money and devote all my time to it as well. And thankfully, with a lot of help.
That all being said, no one knows the future. The official clock starts when it funds and on one hand time is against me. On the other hands, I have the rare luxury of having almost another entire month to prep and plan. We are even going to start producing the kits immediately and take advantage of teh extra time – since it funded so quickly.
I hope that at least gives a little more perspective on where we stand with production. I will, of course post pictures and reports of how its all going.