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