At one time Solidoodle was the prime underdog to take on the big boys of the 3D printing industrie. They had a solid design that was very customizable with a simple and easy user experience that everyone could enjoy and they were the first to offer a 3D printer under $500. So the news about them going out of business is a sad and shocking one. As of the Fall of 2015 they had laid off their employees, stopped all orders and support, and closed the doors for good. What happened to the company is very basically laid out in a notice posted to their website where Solidoodle Founder Sam Cervantes explains that poor manufacturing in China of their Solidoodle Press Printer that was filled with defects materials issues along with a Port Strike at the shipping docks which delayed their orders from arriving from Asia for months placed heavy burdens and financial strain on the company. Cervantes used his own savings to try and float past the crisis but to no avail as the pressure and cost was too high. These wonderful machines definitely were worth a looking at and as an owner of one I can tell you they are great, unless you break it and there are now no parts available for it through the manufacturer.
So was moving manufacturing from the Brooklyn in New York to China a mistake? The asnwer is yes and a lesson for many to learn. Jumping into manufacturing anything is a big job and you can see this by how many fully funded KickStarter projects go under because of the over reliance of foreign manufacturing. Chances are if Solidoodle had tried to grow a little slower and fight the urge to rapidly expand it could have weathered and change in the market. Even though they are now officially gone the bright side is they paved the way for many low cost 3d printers that are now available on the market. You can even get a Solidoodle MK3 knockoff straight from China thru Ebay! Though I can verify the quality.
Here’s a copy of what the letter said from founder of Solidoodle to all his customers and employees.
“March 28, 2016 by Sam
Today, with sadness, I am announcing that Solidoodle is suspending operations.
A few years ago Solidoodle was one of the leading manufacturers of consumer 3D printers, with 70 employees and over ten thousand units shipped. Regrettably, we stumbled on the launch of our 5th generation product, the Solidoodle Press, which fell short of our high standards for providing an outstanding consumer experience. This led to a downward spiral of declining sales and layoffs that further hindered our ability to deliver a great consumer experience.
From 2011 through 2014 we assembled our first four product generations at our own factory in Brooklyn. Soon demand began to grow so large that we felt it would be difficult to scale effectively in Brooklyn, so we sought to partner with an outside assembly factory. We had been largely successful purchasing components in China, so manufacturing our entire product there seemed like the next logical step.
However, this proved to be much more difficult than expected. Despite spending months in China building the partnership, training workers, and inspecting finished units, the factory shipped units which did not live up to our standards. This setback was exacerbated by the 2014 West Coast Port labor dispute and slowdown, which kept hundreds of printers ordered for the Holiday Season from arriving until March. Had they arrived on schedule, we would have had much more time for testing and inspection, and would have realized crucial cash flow much sooner.
We were able to raise some turnaround funding in July 2015, but, despite the support of our investors and the heroic efforts of our team, we were unable to revive sales and return to profitability. As a result, at the end of 2015 Solidoodle ran out of cash, stopped taking new orders, and laid off it’s employees. I’ve now exhausted nearly all of my personal savings in an attempt to achieve the best possible outcome for everyone involved.
While we have been able to fulfill our outstanding orders (with very few exceptions), there remain a few dozen customers still owed a refund for a returned or undelivered product that we cannot honor. While the company has no cash remaining to issue refunds, we have been working behind the scenes to try to make up for some of your loss.
New Matter, makers of the award-winning MOD-t 3D printer, have graciously offered to ship a FREE MOD-t to all Solidoodle customers who are due a refund. I am very grateful to Steve Schell and the New Matter team for their generosity and dedication to the industry. They were under no obligation to step up and are receiving no financial compensation to help us. Those customers with Solidoodle refunds due can contact New Matter at firstname.lastname@example.org by May 1, 2016 to follow up on the free MOD-t offer, or go to www.newmatter.com and sign up for their email newsletter to learn more.
For assistance and support issues, I enourage our customers to visit the soliforum.com site, which has become a great community over the years and has proven to be a valuable resource.
While the Solidoodle chapter is unfortunately coming to an end, it’s important to remember that together we achieved many successes. Since 2011 we showed the world that 3D printers could be made both affordable and accessible to put the means of production into the hands of average citizens. We shipped over ten thousand 3D printers to customers in 60 countries. Customers have used those 3D printers to unleash their creativity, teach children about technology, and even print prosthetic hands for amputees. Together, we played an important part in advancing 3D printing from a relatively unknown technology into a powerful force of creation. While the Solidoodle era is ending, the digital manufacturing revolution is only just beginning. I’m grateful to have taken this journey with all of you and I have great faith in the human spirit of creativity to continue using technology to build a smarter, happier, more sustainable society.”