It’s amazing.  As you can see, the public has spoken: “We want our 3D Printers!”  The plan to launch any product is part market analysis, part planning, part teamwork, part killer product, and, frankly, part luck.  I have worked hard to cover all my bases, but the luck part – the big question mark of every product launch – has a mind of its own.  I am quick to point out that, while I had a gut feeling, I did not know that the Printrbot would hit this big. I know the stories about guys in their garage, but really never saw myself as a success story in the making.  I hoped, but who really knows?  Well, at one week in, we stand to hit 600% funded soon.  At current writing, the total is $142,589, and it is surreal.  I am so grateful to all who have supported the project.  Thank you. Seriously….. thank you.

While the funding continues to come in, I expected it to level off  a bit.  In reality, the graph just took a turn skyward.  Amazing.  For the last three days, I have been busy lining up all the sourcing and manufacturing relationships with key people and companies. I thought it might be fun to share some of the crazy emails and phone calls I have been getting so you have a window into the preparation involved.

I am in contact with an established stepper motor supplier and preparing an order for 500 Printrbots.  If you are doing the math, that is a substantial investment.  Our delivery times look to be right on track with what we need to make our deadlines.

We have several options on the table for the electronics.  There are some great manufacturers right here in the US.  We will not be outsourcing to China for the near future.  We love the idea of buying American, and really need the peace of mind that comes with manufacturing and assembling right here in the USofA.

The hotends are one of the items that we are making right here locally.   We are partnering with a gentleman that has countless years of experience running an HP failure analysis lab.  He knows how to build things, then stress-test them until they break to find the weak points, then improve the part and build it stronger.  We love our hotend and are shipping these already assembled, removing one of the most intimidating parts of the kits that have been avalable up until now.

A gentleman from MIT actually called me and wants to partner with me on a project he has going to bring printers to 3rd world countries.  This is still completely up in the air, but I have to say that the opportunity to sit down with some of the greatest minds in the world of 3D printing gets my blood pumping.  I don’t want to say too much, since this is still firmly in the “too good to be true” category in my mind… but how cool is that?!

Ponoko.com contacted me – what a great partner they would be.  Vxb.com contacted me.  Several established design firms…. a scientist in the field of archeology and education…. a gentleman wanting to design a pick and place machine using the Printrbot… magazines that want interviews…. it just doesn’t get better than this!

One particularly exciting development is the opportunity to partner with an established local manufacturer of educational and DIY projects – including robots and whatnot.  We are in talks to partner in a move that would change the world of consumer 3D printing forever – bringing 3D printers to the masses at a price never before seen.  It’s a pencil sketch on the back of a napkin at this point, but some really great things came off the back of a napkin, ya know.

I have talked to everyone on my core team multiple times, checking in to see how everyone is doing and we all feel great!  We are ready for this, and we literally are already setting things in motion for our next step… and the step after that.

The bot farm is in production and should be printing our first production models early next week.  On top of the central bot farm, we will be inviting our RepRap meetup group, as well as key members of the RepRap community, to join us in a 3D printing marathon.  We are determined to meet this demand with the full force of the potential that personal manufacturing movement has been quietly building for years now.  We don’t even WANT this to be a singular effort, we want reprappers from all over to join us in this unique opportunity to show the world that the future is here.  We don’t want any favors – we will fairly compensate all participants that meet our strict quality standards.  While we are not dependent on the community, we would love the story of Printrbot to involve the RepRap community at large.  Watch Printrbot.com – for details on how you can be involved.  And, yes, this means the files will be released before the end of the kickstarter project.

We are passionate about 3D printing.  We believe 3D printing will change the world.  We believe that a printer in every home and school will be a reality soon.  Our entire mission is to accomplish this goal.  But we don’t want to stop there.  We have been dreaming and  are talking with key people about bringing this technology to the third world.  A portion of our operating budget will be dedicated to bringing 3D printers to third world countries to solve basic problems that are well within our reach TODAY.  No future tech here – just plain and simple problems that can be solved with a 3D printer… agricultural needs, sanitary needs, aiding the simple need for shelter and comfort, even the ability to make a living by utilizing tools created on a 3D printer.  One notable advantage to taking rapid prototyping into a culture with very real needs is that the payoff will be instant.  Working with locals that articulate a need and take part in the process of rapid revisions is a mind blowing thing to consider. The possibilities are endless and we want to lead in this effort.  There may not be a pile of dollar signs at the end of this particular road, but we believe it is good stewardship.  Watch Printrbot.com for more on this topic as well.

One last teaser we want to leave you with is our plans to branch out across multiple manufacturing disciplines. 3D printing in ABS with our RepRaps is close to our hearts.  The idea of democratizing manufacturing is the dream.  Period.  But this Kickstarter has presented us with a unique problem.  We need to produce a large number of printers in a very short time.  We are scaling production to do this, but we are pursuing some interesting options to test the market a bit.  We are finishing up the lasercut model of the Printerbot and pursuing the idea of injection molding as well.  Both additional models would be basically the same, but utilize different manufacturing techniques.  As we have stated from the beginning, we are first and foremost a RepRap project. We want this printer to print other printers, and with the Printrbot, this will always be possible.  The advantages that lasercut wood and molded plastic parts offer is diversification and scale.  We are not dependent on any one of these technologies to produce our printers.  Printrbot was designed from the ground up to be created in any one of these manufacturing mediums.  The cool thing is that they will look almost exactly the same.  To be clear, we are not in production on lasercut or injection molding…..yet.  But that’s the goal.  We want to meet the demand no matter what.  While lasercut and injection molding could potentially drive down the final cost to consumers, we are not there yet.  If we do end up offering these two new models sooner than later, they will be the same price.  The end result will be the same – a small, simple, 3D printer that anyone can build.  

Once again, thanks for making this an exciting time for me, and for all the 3D printing enthusiasts out there.  3D printing in your home is about to arrive.  And it’s here to stay.