Feb 24, 2017 | By Benedict

Tiko 3D, the company behind the Tiko Unibody 3D Printer, has wound down operations, despite raising almost $3 million from its debut Kickstarter campaign. Backers yet to receive a Tiko 3D printer, which users have described as faulty and inaccurate, will not receive a refund.

2016 may have been a remarkably terrible year, but 2017 hasn’t started too well either—in the world of crowdfunded 3D printers, at least. Hot on the heels of the controversial and eventually abandoned NexD1 3D printer campaign, another promising crowdfunding project has crashed and burned, despite raising millions of dollars from enthusiastic Kickstarter backers.

The latest project to nosedive spectacularly is that of the $179 Tiko delta 3D printer, a unibody 3D printer that—retrospectively—always seemed too good to be true. 16,538 backers pledged $2,950,874 to fund the 3D printer, but Toronto-based startup Tiko 3D announced on Wednesday that operations have ceased, citing “hardware and software setbacks, manufacturing challenges, repeated delays, regulatory hurdles, unending certification requirements, unplanned operating expenses, logistical nightmares, sleepless nights, strained relationships, frustrated suppliers, a disgruntled community, new competitors, and a jaded industry.”

The Tiko 3D printer was supposed to be a simple, affordable, delta-style 3D printer with a 50-micron resolution and 2.27-liter print volume. What it ended up being, according to the “lucky” 4,100 backers who actually received their 3D printer, was a hugely unreliable machine packed with cheap components that simply didn’t work. Financial troubles have now caused Tiko 3D to put the project into “hibernation,” cancelling all preorders while attempting to fulfill as many existing orders as it can. As it stands, things don’t look promising, and backers won’t be getting refunds.

In a lengthy post on the Tiko 3D printer Kickstarter page, Tiko 3D admitted that it had failed, but offered hope that an investor might eventually pick up the company and allow it to resume operations: “Starting a company is a fight against the odds, and a journey into the unknown. Just when you think you have it all figured out, reality comes in and hits you in the gut. We climbed to the top, then fell off and hit every branch on the way down. We’re sorry we disappointed you. You believed in us, and we let you down. It hurts like hell... but this isn’t over yet.”

Many backers and observers appear to have little sympathy with Tiko 3D and its plight, and many have suggested that the startup willfully ignored the warnings and advice of industry professionals, instead squandering its money on bulk orders of components before knowing fully whether its design would be workable. In fact, it appears the only sympathy for Tiko 3D is coming from M3D, a fellow crowdfunding-friendly 3D printing company—albeit a much, much more successful one—that currently holds the record for the most successful 3D printer crowdfunding campaign ever.

Michael Armani, the CEO and cofounder of M3D, believes that there are fundamental problems with the crowdfunding model—this despite his company raising almost $4 million over multiple successful campaigns—and has refused to blame Tiko 3D for seemingly orchestrating its own demise. M3D is even offering Tiko backers an M3D 3D printer for $199. “If people with no experience backed the Tiko out of a curiosity to create, we don’t want to see that curiosity go to waste,” said Tim Williams, M3D’s senior campaign executive.

At the end of the day, the failure of Tiko 3D cannot be compared to something like the Peachy Printer debacle. Who knows, a refined Tiko 3D printer may even see the light of day at some point. Nonetheless, another messy 3D printer crowdfunding campaign won’t reflect well on 3D printing startups or the crowdfunding model going into the future. Here’s hoping for better luck throughout the rest of 2017.



Posted in 3D Printer Company



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Andy H wrote at 2/28/2017 10:22:39 AM:

You've always got to regard crowdfunding as a "bet" or "punt". But I don't think you can write off all kick-starters. Look at the form 1, cel Robox or Zortrax M200. Both successful kickstarters that have lead to one or more successful printers. [Yep, the form 1 had problems improved in successive revisions, yep the Zortrax promised WiFi that hasn't materialised, but neither were a failure by any stretch, but all 3 are now strong evolving companies] The real issue seems to be the "race to the bottom" for cheap printers IMHO. I burnt myself twice chasing that fallacy - with the Cobblebot and the Solidoodle Press. But I went into both of them knowing I could get nothing back, and I can't say I feel too troubled by either, even though I wouldn't be able to afford to do so again any time soon.

Mark Haase wrote at 2/25/2017 12:39:54 AM:

Hi Benedict, Can you please also mention in your article that Tiko made each backer pay $55 in shipping and handling over a year ago, and then didn't ship anything to 12,000 of those people? They have not responded to requests to refund the shipping money. Although Kickstarter projects sometimes fail, taking $55 from 12,000 backers and putting in their own pocket is unacceptable. This aspect needs to be highlighted: this wasn't simply 3 kids in over their heads, it's 3 kids who spent $600,000 in S&H fees that wasn't theirs. Thanks, Mark

Bob the printer wrote at 2/24/2017 8:44:42 PM:

Yet another example of why investing in all those 3D printer kickstarters is a bad idea. How can you believe someone with little experience in real manufacturing is able to produce a printer offering the same quality and functionalities as existing printers, yet cost 1/3 of the price? The cost of 3D printers out there is mostly driven by the motors, transmission parts and motor drivers (electronics). To reduce the costs, you must sacrifice the quality of these parts. In all cases, you will hurt your reliability.

Pseudonym wrote at 2/24/2017 5:41:07 PM:

By business partner and I saw this printer at the OCE Discovery Conference a couple years back when they first launched their campaign...we both called their demise. Too bad we were right. Looks like their wax wings (PLA?) melted too close to the sun...lol

Feign wrote at 2/24/2017 3:26:26 PM:

Every time I look at my MOD-t printing I feel like I'm looking at Vegas winnings. Technically, the core ideas of the Tiko are great, but great ideas cannot float a poorly run company and hardware without software is a doorstop. ALWAYS, look at the company behind the product first. Look at the company before you even play the pitch video. If it's "a trio of starry-eyed first-time entrepreneurs." then don't gamble more than you care about losing on it.

Montage Flange wrote at 2/24/2017 2:57:01 PM:

You pay your money you take your chances. That's the rules of the game with crowd funding.

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