Apologies we disappeared for a little bit last week - it turns out making sure everyone's charges go through smoothly is no small task, at all. For those of you who are still having issues getting your payment to go through, don't worry, you won't lose your spot in line...and thank you for helping us out! For everyone else that's already been charged, thank you so much for helping us out by taking care of everything quickly so we could move forward with production. I know you've all been waiting a very long time, and though it wasn't as easy as it should have been, the final hurdle has been cleared and we're now able to move full steam ahead with ordering our remaining parts, finishing assembly, and shipping out your units. Speaking of which...
Production is going smoothly, and we should have all of the First Run units shipped out by the end of the month. By the end of the year, we should be able to get most if not all of our Indiegogo shipments out as well! Any pre-orders placed after Indiegogo will be shipped out in January or February depending on when you placed your order - we're hoping to get them all shipped out by early February, depending on how quickly we can assemble everything. Check out some of the new stuff we've gotten in over the past week or so - and more shows up every day!
As we get ready for shipping out our units, we've also finalized our packaging material. The final design for the box label was part of UL and CE and is in the printing press right now...the boxes themselves are double corrugated cardboard with built in handles (trust me, you'll thank us for the handles), and then ProtoCycler floats inside in some foam inserts. We've gone through three major revisions of the insert material and design - They're now made of high density expanded polyethylene, instead of the cheaper but less durable Styrofoam we'd started with. When you're shipping ~50 lbs around the world, you want to make sure it arrives safely!
We started with the Styrofoam on the bottom left, but it kept breaking apart in transit and could even leave little bits of Styrofoam everywhere. Not good. We then switched to a lower density EPE that was supposed to be as strong as the styrofoam, but we still weren't satisfied...so we went all out and got some high density EPE, shown on top.
We'll be sure to get pictures of a finished, in box ProtoCycler up as soon as we can - including the quick start guide and the safety instructions. The full user manual will be available by the time we start shipping first run units on our website as well...but I'll admit it's been placed on the back burner for now as production kicks into high gear. And for those in other countries with strict importation limits, don't worry - the quick start, safety guide, and packaging are all multi lingual to conform to CE...with German, Dutch, French, and Spanish all being offered besides English. Forgive us, however, if the translation isn't as good as it could be!
A ton of people have been asking us about buying pellets - if you backed us on Indiegogo you've already been able to, but we haven't had them for sale on our website quite yet. The reason for this is we still need to finalize our costs, what plastics we offer, and how they're packaged and shipped. After all, what's the point of being able to make your own filament if you can't have some fun with it? So we've been shopping around and trying tons of different kinds of plastics...TPU, Nylon, PET, and of course *many* different grades of ABS and PLA. 552, 448T, MG94...4043D, 3d850...there's so many types to experiment with! So, until we can settle on what all we want to offer and ensure we can do it at a competitive price for all of our customers, we're holding off. That being said, the core basics - ABS and PLA - should start coming out within the next month or so, and anyone who's placed an order will be able to waive pellet shipping costs on their first 2kg of pellets.
Packaging and shipping the pellets is also extremely important to us - they need to get there bone dry, quickly, and as affordably as possible. We've been playing around with a few options and so far the winner - by far - is vacuum sealed, foiled mylar, with desiccant. It's way more durable, keeps the moisture and light out completely, and is still very easy to pack and ship. Check out some of the various pellet styles and packaging options below...
Impact modified 4043D (PLA) on the left, TPU on the top, PA-12 (Nylon) on the right, and some Mylar sealed MG94 (ABS) in the middle. The Mylar is *by far* the best long term seal against external contamination...but it's not resealable like the zip locks are.
As some may have already seen, as promised, prices for ProtoCycler has gone up. So, if you managed to sneak in a pre-order...well done! If not, don't worry, the price hasn't increased too much, and is still incredibly competitive for what you're getting. The quality of materials, the cost of certification, and the level of care and detail that goes into every unit is very, very difficult to do at the pre-order price without making money...and we sadly need to turn a modest profit to be able to grow our team, come out with new products and technologies, and grow our company and community.
So, ProtoCycler's new price is...drum roll please...$899. We were going to raise it to $999 as it would have brought us a little closer to the "expected" margins for a hardware company, which makes our lives a lot easier when we begin trying to expand distribution, etc. But after talking it over, we still believe it's better to get the technology into more hands than fewer, and make up our margins through increased volume than higher sale prices. We have done an incredible amount of work to make it as affordable as possible without sacrificing on quality anywhere, and we're very proud of the work we've done and what we offer for that price! We lead the industry in speed, tolerance, ease of use, and include both a grinder and spooling system right out of the box...with full computer control, no less. ProtoCycler is fully assembled, comes with all required accessories, passes international safety regulations beyond the legal requirements, and is designed and built to satisfy the demands of everyone from student to parent, to professional or maker. If you compare us to the competition, you'll find we offer un-equaled value across nearly every possible category, and we know our existing customers will agree once they get their units!
That being said, we do know $899 is difficult to justify for some folks that do less printing, and so we are looking at coming out with a second, "grinder-less" model. The grinder is a huge portion of the cost, and for those just looking to save some money and expand their creative potential, isn't as big a requirement as a top quality extruder. This is just an idea at this stage, but if you're reading this and would be interested in a "ProtoStruder", for, say $500, let us know - if the demand is high enough, we'll look into it more thoroughly in a few months after we've fulfilled all of our current orders for ProtoCycler.
Last but not least, we were very lucky to get some coverage in Bloomberg Businessweek. We are frankly blown away that such a widespread, non technical publication is covering us...and we could not be happier! Check out the article here, or at the link below, and be sure to share it with all of your friends...the more we can all get the word out, the more plastic can ultimately be re purposed. A huge thanks in particular to Miranda Purves for getting us included in the first issue of November, after seeing us just a month earlier at Maker Faire in NYC...it's a true honour!
That's it for this week - we should be back to weekly updates now that most of the payment issues have settled, so stay tuned next week for more production and fulfillment news. And as always, don't hesitate to e-mail us if you've got any questions, comments, or concerns...we're always happy to get feedback and improve :)
-The ReDeTec team