Tiko Down and Out?

tiko-3d-down-and-out

Unfortunately it looks like this image of the Tiko 3D Printer is as close as I’ll ever get to one – after months of speculation by fellow Kickstarter supporters, and a recent article by 3dprint.com which explained some of the problems that have plagued the company since their massive Kickstarter success in 2015, the Tiko team have sent an email update to backers that sounds ominous:

“Basically, the company is now on standby while we pursue ways to get back on track… We made countless mistakes, and we are now in a tough place, but it doesn’t mean that everything we built is suddenly worthless.”

It sounds like there may still be a glimmer of hope that investors may see the potential in Tiko and jump in to save the day, but given my previous experience with the failure of Solidoodle after the Press 3D printer, I’m not holding my breath. A few batches of Tiko’s did make it to the US and Canada, however online reports seem to suggest that the hardware and software hasn’t really lived up to expectations, being released out of desperation to get some products out there without being fully tested. A real shame, this was a Kickstarter campaign I was really excited about and the journey started off so well.

Maybe I’m just cursed? This is now the second printer/company that I’ve supported that has hit major troubles. Which means that I think I’m throwing in the towel with crowdfunding 3D printers – there are just too many risks and challenges, and there are so many options already available and sitting on shelves that the risk hardly seems worth it to save a few dollars with a startup. Given how well my Cocoon Create 3D printer has been going over the past year, bought for only $399 AUD from Aldi, I really can’t see the point. In the time Tiko has been struggling to produce 1 printer, Cocoon Create has supplied 1 very successful printer (read my review here), and looks poised to release the next generation machine any day.

That’s the other problem with these sorts of crowdfunded technologies – in the time that it takes to develop and manufacture them, the more established companies and new startups have already brought out ever newer machines that are superior to the technology a year or two ago, even superior to technology only a matter of months ago. The pace of change in 3D printing is extremely quick, and if you get caught for too long in development, what you’re developing will likely be out of date before it even leaves the factory.

Obviously I’m a huge fan of crowdfunding, having just wrapped up a successful Kickstarter project using the old Solidoodle Press as a plotter, but I now have a very big question mark about funding anything as complex as a 3D printer. I really do hope the Tiko team can negotiate their little hearts out and find some sort of a way to move forward. I would love nothing more than to one day have a Tiko on my workbench, and be running it side-by-side with my other printers and writing some reviews for you all. I’m just not holding my breath…

– Posted by James Novak

A New Year Miracle… Sort Of

20151230_Solidoodle Grommets

A “New Year Miracle” might be overstating things a bit, but these are the first useful prints I’ve had from my Solidoodle Press – and I use the word useful instead of successful, awesome or great because they are only useful in the sense that they prove what I needed to in a rough prototype – they fit. But if you look at the surfaces they are far from pretty, and for every one of these parts that was made another couple were thrown out. But compared to my last attempts, or anything else from this machine, it’s something!

These parts are just some little grommets which are designed to plug into a soft foam or neoprene material – some electronics get mounted within them and the rest is… well a bit top secret at the moment. Yes the usual excuse, but that’s how research projects go.

I’m continuing to get the slipping problem I wrote about in my last post using the Solidoodle and think I have an idea why – it might be something to do with the motor that drives the forward/back motion of the print head. I’m noticing that after about only 20 minutes of use the slipping becomes a problem, consistently, and that this motor is getting extremely hot, like hot enough to burn you. Which I don’t think should happen since it’s got nothing to do with the hot end of the print nozzle. So it’s possible that when it gets this hot, the motor starts failing internally. So normally the first one of these little grommets prints out fine, and then things go wrong and I shut down the machine for a while and start again. Obviously it’s manageable on such a small part, but means printing anything useful at a larger size will never happen.

Come on Tiko, I need you!

I’ve found a thread on the Soliforum from someone with the same issue and added my observations and a photo. Hopefully there are some solutions that people have found, there are a few suggestions listed already but I’m doubtful whether they’re going to solve my problems. I’ll try again soon.

– Posted by James Novak

Does the “D” in “3D Print” Stand for Delays?

151008 Tiko Delay

Either I’m very unlucky buying 3D printers, or there’s just a common trend of new printers being delayed and delayed and delayed… Earlier this year I was really excited to jump on board the Kickstarter funding for the Tiko 3D printer, which has a lot of great things going for it; not only the really fantastic price, but also the delta print head configuration and reasonably-sized printing envelope. However the latest update from them shows that they’ve started falling behind in production, which as an Industrial Designer I can completely understand with quality controls and the challenges of manufacturing in China a constant struggle with manufacturing.

However after my last experience buying the Solidoodle Press and being screwed around for about 5 months before it finally arrived (and don’t even get me started on the quality of the machine!!!) I can’t help but wonder if this latest Tiko delay is just the beginning of many? While there are great savings to be made funding a Kickstarter project, and potentially a new exciting 3D printer that could do everything and more that’s been promised, there’s definitely something to be said for going with a more expensive but proven product that’s in stock and ready to go – something like the Up! Plus 2 I’ve been using for a long time.

This is not just based on my own experiences, but many students in my classes have very similar stories buying 3D printers and being disappointed once they finally arrive after months (or even years!) of delays. I’d love to hear if anyone has a similar experience as I’m always asked about my recommendations for buying 3D printers and as much as I love the idea of jumping on board with something new and exciting, I’m really leaning towards established brands with multiple generations of machines and plenty of reviews by users.

Having said all of this, I’m really keen to get my hands on this machine and see what it can do!

– Posted by James Novak