Whitney Tilson on 3D Printing

Now THIS is a consumer 3D printer I could get excited about: small, easy to use and only $299! Of course it could be vaporware, but it looks legit: watch the 3 min video at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/m3d/the-micro-the-first-truly-consumer-3d-printer. Here’s the top of the web page (which I’ve copied and pasted below):

Whitney Tilson 3D Systems
Courtesy of Kase Capital

The Micro: The First Truly Consumer 3D Printer

by M3D LLC

The first truly consumer 3D printer should be incredibly intuitive, easy to own, and seamless by design.

…And That’s Why We Made The Micro

It is the most affordable 3D printer that can be used right out of the box.  Perfect for beginners and experts alike, just plug in the printer, download or create models, hit print, and watch your custom creations form right before your eyes.

The Micro is Designed For Everyone

They had a goal of raising $50,000 on Kickstarter – and have raised $1.8 million already.

Seeing this printer makes me like my short positions in 3D Systems Corporation (NYSE:DDD) and Stratasys, Ltd. (NASDAQ:SSYS) (owner of the MakerBot line of consumer printers) even more, as it shows what a ferociously competitive space this is – a little start-up with a handful of people appears to have created a massively better, cheaper 3D printer than what the market leaders have on the market – AND they’ve quickly and easily raised nearly $2 million to bring it to market.

Whitney Tilson on 3D System’s products

For comparison, I typed “3D printer” on Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN)’s and Staples, Inc. (NASDAQ:SPLS)’ web sites and the first links were to 3D Systems Corporation (NYSE:DDD)’ consumer models, the Cube (2nd generation), the CubeX Duo and the CubeX Trio. I immediately noticed two things:

1) Most models (each color has a different listing) had no reviews – and the most I found were 18 reviews for the silver-colored one. That’s very few for a product that 3D Systems is really hyping (there were only 5 reviews across three colors on Staples’ web site), which reinforces my view that sales of this product are minimal; and

2) The reviews for 3D Systems’ three consumer models are catastrophically, almost comically bad – I’ve never seen such a high percentage of customers so absolutely livid. Which raises the question: what does this say about the rest of 3D Systems’ business? Is it possible that the consumer printer business is a disaster, but the rest of the company is a well-oiled machine? I suppose, but I don’t think it’s likely.

Here are the reviews on Amazon for each model:

 

The 18 reviews I found for one color (silver) of the Cube, which costs $1,087, are mixed at best (averaging 2.9 out of 5):

 

5 star:

 (6)

4 star:

 (2)

3 star:

 (1)

2 star:

 (2)

1 star:

 (7)

 

 

 

 

 

8 people were happy (4- and 5-star ratings), but the 9 unhappy people were really unhappy. Here are some comments (read them all at: www.amazon.com/Cubify-Cube-Printer-Generation-SILVER/product-reviews/B00B6RCLKI):

 

1.0 out of 5 stars shameful, April 6, 2014

By K.Attar

 

Worst thing I ever bought! Its a hefty dust collector. Barely works, extremely clunky, crap tech support. Its a 3d shame!

1.0 out of 5 stars Horrible 3D printer, February 25, 2014

By IrisD

After doing much research I decided to give this printer a try because it seems that it was going to be easy to use and I will be printing right out of the box. Wow was I wrong. After following all the videos and doing the necessary adjustments I started my first print. It immediately failed with an error about filament load failure. After hours on the phone and trying every single thing I was told to even going as fart as disassembling the print head and checking for clogs, I was never able to print anything. I was lucky enough that I was able to return it but never again!

1.0 out of 5 stars Wish I Could Return, February 1, 2014

By Steven S.

WARNING: DO NOT BUY THIS PRINTER
Even though the printer itself is ok, the filament costs $50 for a little cartridge, and the cartridge even has a chip so that you can only use Cubify plastic. I have tried to use other plastics, and now my print head is jammed up and I can not fix it. The software also has no features or settings for the printer.
WARNING: DO NOT BUY THIS PRINTER

1.0 out of 5 stars Frustrating beyond words, January 14, 2014

By TraderVance23

Really, do a great deal of research on these beasts. First, it isn’t easy to connect via wireless. Second if you do connect you may be able to print something in the slimy green plastic filament they give you (worst color ever). But the filament will screw up in no time. The documentation is worthless, and out of date. It can’t even walk you through Windows setups. This is a HUGE waste of alot of money. There needs to be some solutions for this nonsense.

1.0 out of 5 stars Worst Printer Ever, November 8, 2013

By Jeff Bridges

Terrible customer service, terrible print quality, for a product that barely even works (when it’s running in the first place). If I buy another 3d printer, I will go with a Makerbot or PrinterBot. DO NOT TRUST THIS COMPANY.

1.0 out of 5 stars This is a terrible product, October 29, 2013

By John Fichthorn “still hungry” (new york)
I own this and the makerbot, and frankly neither lives up to expectations, but this product is completely unusable. I could not get it to work consistently even after hours on the phone with tech support. So far in the last 9 months I have printed the token gesture Rook and nut and bolt. I thought my kids would really like this, but since you basically can’t make anything with arms, at least reliably and it takes 4 hours to make it, and you have to be watching the whole time in case it misses a layer, they very quickly became bored. Save your money and buy 1200 dollars in toys instead, thank me later.

2.0 out of 5 stars Cube 3D (Not Worth the Money), September 26, 2013

By WDG “TheTruth” (greenville, sc United States)

The 3D Cube Second Generation is not as easy as is claimed, and customer support is slow to respond to questions asked, Expect Trouble, first one received was not programmed with Serial Number, so after a couple of days of trying to activate I was told they would have to replace. Received replacement about a week later, would not load files, would not update firmware. would not accept material into print nozzle due manufacture not cleaning out nozzle after testing, took about hour to get it cleaned out before it would start to feed material. I figured out the other issues without tech support due to the long delays. Be aware that once you do get it going be prepared to wait long hours for creation to be made. I have two so far of the smaller projects each tool over 3 hours, Many take 17 hours or more. Very High price and material cost, be careful with the print platform as it’s glass and $100.00 if you break it.

1.0 out of 5 stars Cartridge extortion, June 21, 2013

By Amanda Jacob

The Cubify printers use a proprietary cartridge system instead of the standard plastic spools. What this means is, you are stuck buying cartridges from Cubify at a huge markup. Don’t buy their printers.

But wait – it gets worse! If you want to spend twice as much money ($2,349) for 3D’s higher end model, the CubeX Duo 3D Printer, check out these 19 horrible reviews (averaging 1.2 out of 5):

19 Reviews

5 star:

 (0)

4 star:

 (0)

3 star:

 (1)

2 star:

 (1)

1 star:

 (17)

   

Here are some excerpts – the fury is almost comical (read them all at:www.amazon.com/The-CubeX%C2%99-Duo-3D-Printer/product-reviews/B00D45ZNKA):

1.0 out of 5 stars Worst THING That Ever Existed, October 31, 2013

By James Y Byun

Yes folks, you read correctly. Not only is the Cubex Duo the worst 3D printer in existence, it’s the worst THING ever made. Worse than getting a paper cut in the webbing between your fingers. I’m pretty sure marriages have ended because of it. Did I mention that this is the single worst product I have ever used in my entire life? It’s as if 3D Systems forgot to actually test their machines and hired a Rhesus monkey as quality control manager. This is the epitome of a half-baked idea rushed to market. It says a lot about a company that doesn’t even use their own machines to build the demo models you see on their website. (A colleague of mine discovered this during a visit to a 3D Systems facility in NYC.) But I digress. Here are a few of my ownership highlights:

1. When I received the printer the top panel was cracked in half, one of the material cartridges was jammed beyond repair and was therefore useless, and at some point during transit or more likely because of the use of subpar materials, the metal locating piece under the glass platform decided to become unglued. Of course it was impossible to stick it back on in the exact same spot so I basically had to guess. Kind of like trying to hit a pinata except way less fun.

2. The platform angle is waaaaay off-level so many models were ruined. There’s no way to correct this through traditional means so I finally fixed it by gluing a couple pennies underneath the rubber feet of the platform. That’s right, I had to GLUE freakin’ PENNIES to my $4,000 3D printer.

3. During almost every build, the material nozzle would accumulate a glob of molten plastic that would eventually dislodge itself and become part of the model. I tried in vain on multiple occasions to prevent this by using an Xacto blade to clean said nozzle which is fine if it wasn’t constantly zig- zagging around in a seemingly taunting manner. Best case scenario is you salvage the build. Worst case scenario is one or more of your fingers will be crushed to death. There’s no way to pause and resume. Well, technically there is but the machine for some reason forgets where it left off.

I’ll end here not because I’ve listed every god-awful thing that’s wrong with my Cubex Duo but because I have to go back to fixing it. Last night the remaining cartridge (still half full) decided to stop dispensing material so I was greeted this morning with a half built model. Do yourself a huge favor and add years to your life by staying away from this atrocious machine. Or if you do decide to buy, make sure to get your Xanax prescriptions filled before hand.

1.0 out of 5 stars Biggest rip off ever!!!!, October 9, 2013

By kcquick

Cubify is the biggest waste of money I have ever seen. The hardware is some of the worst engineered crap I have ever come across. I engineer and build things for a living and am amazed that this thing ever made it out the door at the production facility. It is pretty but it is entirely superficial. The design software is mediocre, the build software is terrible and the machine stopped working within a few weeks. Dealing with the company is very frustrating. They do not like to deal with things over the phone and expect you to send emails to resolve problems. Additionally they expected me to send them pictures and videos of the problem, even after I explained to them what was wrong. They first sent me replacement parts that did not solve the problem, (a 2-3 week wait). When that didn’t work they sent me a replacement printer that arrived damaged. Fed up I tried to return the product but they will not refund the money so I am stuck with a worthless printer and am out $3000.

1.0 out of 5 stars The CubeX – The sexiest looking pile of CRAP I have ever seen., November 13, 2013

By Mike1983

Wow! where to begin? let me just say that I too have fallen victim to the CubeX Duo and I hope this review will spare a few more unlucky individuals the pain and suffering that I have experienced with this product. The only reason I gave this 1 star is because zero was not an option. I purchased my CubeX directly from cubify and from the beginning we have had nothing but problems. I was originally drawn to the CubeX because of the large build volume and the specs they were claiming on their web site. We have several consumer grade 3D printers in our facility including the Makerbot Replicator and the Leapfrog so we were pretty familiar with 3D printing prior to our purchase.
Here are some of the things we found in side by side comparisons:
1. The software is completely locked down and restricted for almost every setting.
2. You are locked into using their spools of material that contain a very small amount relative to the price of $100 aprox. ~1 pound.
3. The quality of print is absolute garbage in a side by side with the Makerbot Replicator and the Leapfrog.
4. No heated bed so you get warped parts regardless of how much of their special glue you apply.
5. No refunds…

Our CubeX is currently sitting as a paper weight until we get some spare time to rewire and reprogram the machine to use the Rambo board and Repetier host. We are also working on an extruder redesign to accommodate a standard nozzle for finer print resolution. Its a shame to let good hardware go to waste.

Save yourself!!! DONT BUY ANYTHING FROM CUBIFY LET ALONE A CubeX…

1.0 out of 5 stars Crap Product, March 19, 2014

By Douglas C Slemmer (Prosper, TX USA)

Horrible product, jams constantly on their annoying proprietary filament reels… Spend hours designing a print, hours getting the thing to print decent and then 2-3 hours into a print have a “Filament Flow Error” end it all with no hope of restarting. Some idiot thought of a great way to make loads of money on consumables, put an RFID chip in the materials cartridge, but then they spent 5 minutes designing how those expensive things work, jams, jams and more jams. If they tell you they’ve ‘improved’ them don’t believe it . MakerBot is a better choice.

1.0 out of 5 stars Run the other direction, DO NOT BUY FROM #D SYSYTEMS< CUBEX OR CUBIFY, March 7, 2014

By Tim Taylor

Worst company on the planet. No return policy, poor quality prints, expensive filament. Tried to return ours after several months of frustration and noting printed of quality.

1.0 out of 5 stars BUYER BEWARE! DO NOT BUY!, August 22, 2013

By SDNole

Do not buy a Cubify printer! I have a $3,000 paper weight and Cubify does nothing! No customer support – calls an emails either go unanswered or you get a ‘boiler plate’ response back.
My quote and invoice was to include a spool of ABS and PLA material – when the printer arrived, it had two spools of PLA – Customer Service basically said they only ship with PLA regardless of what your order was for. Not to mention the printer was 2 months late! Also, due to the Cubify pinter using proprietary material cartridges, you cannot get material! It has been over 7 months of trying to acquire material, with no avail – and Customer Service continues to just push the promise date out. Print spec doesn’t even come close to what is advertised! (and yes, I have used multiple 3d printers over the years to know this printer does not work as promised!)

But wait – it gets worse! If you want to spend three times as much money ($3,449) for 3D’s even higher end model, the CubeX Trio 3D Printer, check out these 19 reviews (also averaging 1.2 out of 5):

5 Reviews

5 star:

 (0)

4 star:

 (0)

3 star:

 (0)

2 star:

 (1)

1 star:

 (4)

   

Here are some excerpts – more high comedy (read them all at:www.amazon.com/The-CubeX%C2%99-Trio-3D-Printer/product-reviews/B00D48MDNC):

1.0 out of 5 stars It’s absolutely the worst piece of junk ever made, December 12, 2013

By Masterbeat (New York)

DO NOT BUY THIS PRINTER! It’s absolutely the worst piece of junk ever made. I have experience with other 3D printers including Ultimaker and Makerbot. This LOOKS like a beautiful machine in videos and pictures (and actually the build quality is quite nice) but after that, forget it. You’ll NEVER get a quality print out of it because:

– you can’t ever get any product (they lock you into their proprietary cartridge system and they can’t fulfill any orders (always stating a ‘supply problem’ – took 5 months to get 2 cartridges – imagine spending $4000 on a printer you can’t get supplies for)

– when you DO finally get a cartridge from them, those don’t work either, because the design is so bad the filament breaks in the cartridge, the sensors don’t see the cartridge, etc.

– the filament costs 3 times as much as it should (if you could use regular filament)

– the software is primitive and constantly crashes

– if you look at it the wrong way the display or motherboard will short out and you have to wait for a new one.

To heck with their “no refund” policy, I shipped mine back after NEVER getting one single print to work and disputed the charge with the credit card company = full refund.

1.0 out of 5 stars Run away from this item, December 9, 2013

By Dorjano Baruca

Well, a bit of history here is needed. This Cubex thing i s basically a Bits from Bytes (BfB) machine. The company was bought by 3D systems when they fall in a shopping frenzy mood two years ago. This AM (additive manufacturing) machine was built for hobbyist in a first place. I bought a predecessor of this one and it never ever produced a decent part. Plus a temperature sensor on a extruder dies etc. etc. Support I will even not mention it! So, bottom line. 3D Systems is the largest 3D AM machines producers and the really do have some amazing tech on their shelves but this one as every machine made by former BfB it’s a disaster.
Run away, DO NOT BUY THIS JUNK!!!!

1.0 out of 5 stars Don’t Buy This Thing!, September 18, 2013

By Maurice Tedder (Detroit, Michigan United States)

I ordered the CubeX trio and after a month of frustration trying to get it to work I wanted to return it but customer support told me no refunds only exchanges. Issues encountered: replaced motherboard after it burned out after electrical spark during installation of print cartridge in bay 2. Bay 2 & 3 “cartridges not found” message. Filament jams inside cartridge and finally, replaced cartridge reading sensor and the print quality is awful. The three color print is a cool idea but I had so many problems getting one color to work I never used the other colors. It’s cheaper to buy another brand with a single color and paint the other colors. $4000 rip off.

DO NOT BUY THIS THING!!!

In marked contrast, the 57 reviews for the MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop, which costs $1,999 on Amazon, are much better (averaging 3.8 of 5 stars):

57 Reviews

5 star:

 (29)

4 star:

 (11)

3 star:

 (3)

2 star:

 (4)

1 star:

 (10)

See all reviews at: www.amazon.com/MakerBot-Replicator-Desktop-3D-Printer/product-reviews/B00BFZOVGI

 

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