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The call to action link says: "Pre-Order on Kickstarter"

They must have not gotten the "Kickstarter is not a store" memo. They appear to be ready to pull the trigger on their manufacturing partners, so this is sort of a "how big should we make the first run?" type of kickstarter rather than a "let's create something awesome".


• Stereolithography printer (laser, not extruder)

• Much nicer than extruder style printers

• $2300-2700 for the machine depending on your precedence

• $140/liter for liquid resin

This might be a kind of dumb idea, but I would love it if somebody created a Kickstarter project to create a manufacturing and distribution plant for Kickstarter projects...(obviously, would require a huge investment for all of the machining equipment).

I don't think it would work in exactly the same way you are describing but there may be alternatives. Manufacturing equipment is very expensive and the only way to justify the cost is to keep it running daily, sometimes 24/7/365. The change parts for each unique product are also quite expensive (easily $10k+). If I want to open a KickManufacturing plant, I have to buy/maintain/service hundreds of different kinds of equipment which includes the cost of the hardware, software, and technicians. On top of that, each new product will barely have 10k - 100k units ordered if I'm lucky. After that the change parts are useless. The other problem with this is the manufacturing equipment that can do lots of different configurations is slower, error-prone, and more expensive than specialized equipment that does just one thing. So if one of the Kickstarter products does become a success and they want 100m units, you need to buy new equipment or source a better large-scale manufacturer. And worst of all, most of the equipment will be collecting dust 95% of the time unless someone has just the right Kickstarter project for them.

What most entrepreneurs spend their time between getting funded and beginning shipment is finding the right manufacturer who can allocate runtime on their lines. The manufacturers lose money when the lines aren't running. The entrepreneurs get delayed when the lines are busy. This is a very complex B2B market that has no current solution. If someone solves this problem, we can have significantly better fulfillment of Kickstarter orders.

Such a site would have manufacturers periodically uploading capacities and capabilities of their equipment, warehouse/distribution resources, and costs associated with each line/product-type by time/quality. The entrepreneurs would be able to book the best-fit manufacturer (be it in US, China, or Norway) and pay a reservation-fee to the manufacturer which sits in escrow pending successful contract. The reservation-fee would be high enough to deter fake orders and be credited towards the actual product order. The site could fund itself by collecting interest on the escrow or charging per new B2B relation.

All of the stuff this guy says. My dad's been running a robotics engineering company - http://www.primeengineering.net - for nearly as long as I can remember (well, he worked for a company that was bought out by Siemens prior to that). I've been inundated with the knowledge of what it takes to produce doohickeys at scale, whatever those doohickeys may be, since I was like 5. It's fascinating, and I wish more people were cognizant of all that goes into our modern society's niceties.

When he installs new equipment, there's a sub-day shutdown usually, to install massive lines of equipment into a warehouse. He's always busy on, say, Christmas, because a warehouse can typically just barely manage to afford to shut down for 16 hours on that day (or other holidays) since the warehouse employees want to be at home with their families. If there are problems with the installation (and there always are, because tolerances on everything are so tight) then they have to be resolved right there in a crazy short timeframe.

I wrote some PLC software for him back right out of high school, to manage a heat element for a shrink wrapping portion of a particular line. We got a certain input from the other components in the line (so the spec said) to specify how long we needed to run before cutting, in milliseconds. Their specs lied, and they weren't sending us anything remotely like a serial data stream specifying the time before cutting, so while everyone was installing the hardware I had to derive from the data stream we could see what the timing needed to be and 'test' it (more 'run some plastic and cut it and measure it' tests than unit tests, yes?). It was super stressful, but it was also insanely fun. Once the install was done (16 hours on the dot, loaded the code as the timer ran out) the machinery started and has run uninterrupted for on the order of 12 years now. Most people aren't aware that this is the sort of thing that goes into modern manufacturing :)

> And worst of all, most of the equipment will be collecting dust 95% of the time unless someone has just the right Kickstarter project for them.

Cloud manufacturing?

If Kickstarter crowdsources funding, why not crowdsource manufacturing, too? Especially considering the increasing proliferation of 3D printing and the like.

I'm sure that many DIYers, hackerspaces, etc., have the ability to manufacture small batches of a wide variety of products; QA and final assembly could be done further up the chain, as a component of distribution.

Ponoko [1] has been trying to do this for a little while now but they're still a long ways away from being mass production.

[1] http://www.ponoko.com/about/the-big-idea

I think a first step would be a service (maybe even just run by Kickstarter) that would handle the printing and shipping of T-Shirts.

In every post-mortem of a Kickstarter project I hear the project owners lamenting how much more time and effort it took to handle sending rewards out than they had anticipated.

Actually, I'm waiting for someone to create the Kickstarter that people seem to think Kickstarter is: a way to get pre orders for a new product.

I mean seriously, there are a lot of people using Kickstarter for this and now they've explicitly said that's not what it's for. So, Entrepreneurial Opportunity. There's obviously a lot of people who need this kind of "pre-order aggregator" service. So when will a motivated HN'er build it and rake in the bucks :-)

I don't think you are right. There are a lot of consumers that use kickstarter for this, but they are not the customers, the startups are. I think you will find it a lot harder to find businesses creating innovative products based on preorders. Note the significant difference in expectations between investments and sales, preorders are sales not investments.

I guess this is something along those lines: http://outgrow.me/

There was a really great project called Maker Factory that was geared towards this http://makerfactory.com seemed to never quite get the community it needed to take off

Related, but a different aspect of product design: http://www.quirky.com/

Yes first thing I noticed too.. How long will the cognitive dissonance last? Until toda when I backed a documentary I had only 'backed' things that I expected to receive goods from (including $120 on a product running 6 months late)

Saying one thing and acting another way can only last for so long... It would be a different thing if you could purchase an actual 'stake' in the company for your fee, however unfortunately US law doesnt allow this at the moment (or so I am told)- however it seems like the only way to make this fantastic concept (crowd sourced funding) a viable long term solution to a glaring problem is by making it more accountable and transparent in that sort of manner

I've got no beef against the people using Kickstarter as a store to handle their initial production sizing. I think the branding and curation are valuable to me for locating these sorts of projects.

There is always a risk of unforeseen delays or even failure of the project, but that isn't unique to Kickstarter. Any tiny company that funds purchasing with pre-orders is offering the same dynamic, except they will go bankrupt instead of just sort of dissolve.

Eventually someone may have a large fraudulent project and flee with the money, but again, that isn't special. It happens in traditional companies too.

Perhaps eventually Kickstarter will need to have graduated oversight. If your project goes over six figures you must convince someone at Kickstarter that you aren't blowing smoke. If it goes over seven figures you have to pay for a Kickstarter supplied auditor to whom you must show progress for incremental payment releases.

I think it was a smart way to do it... they are using Kickstarter to take pre-orders and to encourage small contributions from those who want to support the effort but don’t necessarily need to buy a printer (by buying a t-shirt, a part printed from their machine, etc.)

It might be a good idea, but Kickstarter have recently made it very clear that per-orders aren't why they exist. By accepting these per-order style Kickstarters they risk having people think of it as a store, which is bound to cause frustration when projects are delayed or cancelled and money is lost.

I don't think that Kickstarter has a problem with pre-orders in general; in fact, that's how they make most of their money. Almost all of their projects involve at some level "pay this much and you will get the final product." What they have a problem with is projects that make it look like they are further along than they are, by using photorealistic mockups and selling multiple quantities of items, as if you're just adding them to a shopping cart.

The new rule is: "Offering multiple quantities of a reward is prohibited. Hardware and Product Design projects can only offer rewards in single quantities or a sensible set (some items only make sense as a pair or as a kit of several items, for instance). The development of new products can be especially complex for creators and offering multiple quantities feels premature, and can imply that products are shrink-wrapped and ready to ship."

It explicitly says that you can offer a reward of one of the item in question (or whatever the most useful set of them is). You cannot, however, have all of your reward levels be different quantities of the item.

"Pre-Order on Kickstarter"

While this may not be within the stated KS rules, as an idea this sounds useful.

The main obstacle with many overseas factory-made cheap electronics projects is indeed "how big should we make the first run?"

Is this not a problem we need to solve? Look at the Raspberry Pi.

For the entrepreneur, maybe "let's manufacture something awesome" requires pre-orders. Maybe it requires committments.

We need some better way to connect consumers, entrepreneurs and factories.

Maybe KS is not it, but isn't it something we should look toward?

However, the build volume (5"x5") is significantly smaller than most FDM printers, and it's significantly slower, as I understand.

It is much faster to position a laser spot than it is to move an extruder head. As you would expect though there is a trade-off between resolution and layer thickness vs. print speed since more layers/raster lines need to be used.

The layers seem to be 25 micron vs 100 micron for the Replicator 2, although I'm not sure what they mean by the 300 micron resolution:



I operate an Objet Connex260 that also has separate resolutions for the X/Y Axis, and the Z-axis 'layer thickness'. Objet specs it at '600 dpi' in the X/Y axes, and '1600 dpi' in the Z axis. http://objet.com/sites/default/files/C260_A4_il_en_lowres.pd...

As it was explained to me by objet, the X/Y resolution is the size of the individual droplets of resin that can be laid down by the Connex's digital print heads. They are larger than the thickness of each layer, therefore the resolution is better in the Z-axis than in the X & Y.

In Formlabs case, I would imagine this is the 'width' or diameter of their laser. The way I read it, the smallest cured point they can produce in a layer is 300 microns, or 0.3mm.

The Formlabs printer does look well polished, but I don't think it is 'disrupting 3D printing'. the B9 Creator* is in the same price range with higher resolution, and may have the ability to include multi-material printing eventually. I believe resin may be cheaper for the B9, too. *http://shop.b9creator.com/?pn=B9Creator+-+KIT&p=621&...

[EDIT] include link to B9

Defining the output quality and resolution of a 3D printer is a subtle thing. Sticking to DPI, laser spot sizes, and layer thicknesses is somewhat akin to comparing clock speeds of modern processors. The question is a lot more subtle than that.

When we talk about minimum feature size, we are giving a rough guide for the finest pillars or walls that you can print (see the fingers of the Neptune figurine in our photos). By this metric, the Form 1 is comparable to the best high end SLA and inkjet machines, and well beyond any FDM machine.

-Max Co-founder, Formlabs

First thing I noticed as well. "pre-Order on kickstarter" screams out "This is a scam!!!! You'll never get anything".

I've never understood why anyone would give anything via kickstarter. A "donate now" paypal button would probably be less scammy.

Fully funded in under 12 hours. 708 hours to go.

For something that is ready to enter manufacturing I think a pre-order model is appropriate. I'd be alarmed if someone used those words on an idea or something in the middle of the prototyping process.

A "donate now" button for a commercial venture is an instant and permanent red flag for me.

> For something that is ready to enter manufacturing I think a pre-order model is appropriate.

Do you have proof this is the case?

The video of it fully operational & functioning, perhaps?

No, perhaps not. There is no visual difference between a well made prototype and a zero-batch machine or even a production item. But there is a huge difference in the amount of work that needs to be done to get from the one to the other. Sometimes years.

The last 10% takes 90% of the time is true in hardware manufacturing just as much or more as it is in software.

I think you actually pre-order one, so you are getting something for your investment.

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