Day two of the Peachy 3D Printer Scandal

I’m appreciating this take on this particular scandal from Makers Muse:

Summarizing my thoughts almost exactly–with the exception that I’m somewhat lacking in sympathy for Rylan Grayston at this point. If his story is true then he has been victimized by his partner David Boe. Regardless of his story, the fact remains that Peachy burned through a million dollars before it was all done (not including the $200,000 allegedly outstanding to Boe). They only asked for $100,000 via Kickstarter and Indiegogo. They were over-funded by a factor of 12. The missing money is 16% of their total take.

I waited patiently all along because I believed everything Rylan was reporting. It has been a long haul but I would rather have them make the best possible product rather than get something unfinished. No doubt it has been a massive undertaking, and scaling up to the size of production required is a challenge. It was clear from the start that prototypes were rudimentary. The appeal was the number of innovative things being done to cut cost. Unfortunately many of those decisions cut quality as well. The revisions that were made in development clearly went to address key shortcomings (innovations like driving laser mirror galvanometers with an audio signal).

Many “clever” innovations were actually a huge challenge that needed to be overcome by substantial design revisions and had the potential to be fatal flaws (see top down build). It was more like a really cool science fair project than anything. I wanted printers out of it, but I also backed it because any level of success it had was going to drive competition and lower prices across the board. The fact remains that if you want quality, it will cost money.

Two years later, Peachy has been surpassed by more important innovations. Many bottom up resin printer technologies have come to pass. Layerless printing ala Carbon. Barrier technologies that reduce mechanical force for layer separation from the vat surface. LCD curing like the Uniz Slash.

I don’t doubt that Rylan was unprepared for the level of success he found with his campaigns. It may be that he was simply hamstrung by his ambition for the project and he overreached on development. Maybe people got paid too much. There has been some debate on this fact and it will be telling to have some analysis of the numbers. What seems evident is that 70% of detailed funding went to salaries of 8 people.

For his part, Rylan claims to be near to shipping printers, stuck at 70% completion on the first run of 600. I have been following development closely and find this credible. He claims as he has done all along that the team is doing everything to push forward and beyond the parts and assembly time needed for the additional printers, all that is required is to pass the laser certification process which has begun, and is required to ship to the majority of backers. This also is credible on the surface.

What is difficult to swallow is this idea that the whole thing is falling apart because of the 16% David allegedly retains. Yes, Rylan is earnest, and believable to those of us that have followed him all along. His claim that he hid this theft to wrest control of the company from David, maintain public dignity and continue development does make sense, even if it is the wrong choice. That choice hurts his credibility and I think it can only be restored via thorough investigation.

Crowdfunding has no guaranteed payoff. It is ripe for scams because no one is required to actually deliver. I’m inclined to believe that the worst thing that I have suffered is a somewhat pricey lesson in due diligence and desire. Perhaps I should have thought better with my money. I will definitely not back anything in the future because I feel like I need it. You can’t need something that doesn’t exist yet. If you need it now–better get something real.

Still, if the battle is between imaginary $100 resin printers of tomorrow and the fully functional $400 filament printers of today, it won’t be long before they come head to head.

I’m sorry to see such a catastrophic demise for the Peachy Printer project. No doubt Mr Grayston would like to attract investors to push the project forward. I’d say that probably ain’t gonna happen. He has at least followed through on a promise to open source everything. So you can build your own Peachy. There’s that. He has also posted updates answering many of the questions people have.

Meanwhile, bidding is open on my Peachy Printer Beta Tester Kit. Someday there will be a movie about this (I’m sure Rylan will sell the rights). The story it would tell is still unraveling. Who knows what this kit will be worth someday. Just imagine.

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