3DP 4 BTC Additive manufacturing in the digital economy
See this coverage of our service: http://cryptojunky.com/blog/2013/05/27/3d-printing-for-bitcoin-combining-disruptive-technologies/
There are a number of services currently available (Shapeways, Ponoko, etc.) which will take your fiat currency and 3D print you something from an STL file format. To our knowledge, no one has been offering to 3D print objects for bitcoin (*at the time of writing, TechPaladin announced a similar service). We're trying to change that, delivering you 3D printed goods made using entirely open-source methods (on our end), to expand the body of services/products available for BTC
. With 3D filament suppliers like ProtoParadigm and TechPaladin offering supplies for BTC, it is possible for this service to be somewhat self-sustaining in that we could potentially use BTC for filament (the primary cost of printing is the material used). Our offerings will expand as we get more requests and suggestions. The more feedback we receive, the better we might become as a service, but the essence is something along the lines of "BTC in, widget of your choice out".
We already have the 3D printers (and didn't take out loans to get them like many companies trying to do this) so it seems like a natural opportunity to expand the ecosystem of BTC acceptors. As others have expressed, this sort of service gives them something snappy to respond with when their dismissive friend asks "But what can you really buy with bitcoin anyway? Seems stupid to me!"
"Well, I use Bitcoin to get anything* I want 3D printed!" you can reply. -- Take that, cynical friend!
As we don't have investors and we haven't quit our day jobs to do this, the 3DP4BTC project is very much a labor of love and an experiment in what the community can do to bootstrap itself. Trust and reputation are an important part of any process, and so we are starting small, working with whomever trickles in first, before expanding to a more involved system.
While there were several initial expressions of interest in the limited venues we polled, only a few BTC users have come knocking so far. To those of you: You’re our first customers, and we want to make sure that you’re happy with what you’ve received before making big promises that we can’t keep (like staying in operation).
*We are not trying to get ourselves in deep water so we might have to be selective regarding certain jobs. More to say on this when our lawyers translate recent legal statutes from parseltongue to common english.Capabilities:
What is the maximum/minimum size of the objects you can build?
We currently offer a maximum build volume of 200mm x 200mm x 120mm, though there are often ways to construct larger objects using prints of sub-components. We are looking to expand this volume in time.Pricing and Payment:
We are using Shapeways pricing as a starting point, asking ⅘ of whatever Shapeways would ask for a similar thing converted to BTC (plus a small shipping fee (typically 0.15 - 0.25BTC)). Extremely dense prints (for some specific application and not just for show) may cost more to cover materials. Once the price is agreed upon it is set for the order. If we feel that your object is likely going to take a few attempts to get correct, we will endeavour to express these concerns in advance, and include that in our proposed offer. We are open to bids for projects.
We are currently using/reviewing several payment schemes:
A) After agreement, object is printed and a photo is sent to customer. Customer deposits ½ of total. Object is shipped and Customer deposits final ½ of total price.
B) After agreement, ⅓ is deposited to facilitate printing. Object is printed and photo returned to customer. Customer deposits ⅓ of total. Object is shipped and Customer deposits final ⅓ of total price.
C) Escrow through Bitmit (2% fee)
Once we've agreed to an order and your order is finished, a buy it now for your order is put onto bitmit with Escrow. You may then purchase the item, pay Bitmit, and release the fees upon receipt of the item.
We are currently defaulting to "Plan C" for new customers, with Plan A as an option for return customers. Shipping:
When it comes to shipping, we’re planning to eat the fees currently, until we find someone selling stamps for BTC or something. As we include a small BTC fee for this (typically ~0.10-0.25 BTC US, 0.2-0.5 BTC International), we feel that it’s worth paying out of pocket until someone (I’m lookin at you UPS/USPS) gets their act together and accepts BTC for such things. Again, this is relying on the low-volume service we are offering and may be forced to evolve if demand grows beyond our capability to sustain this model.
On color availability: http://imgur.com/s3TKTOn
We will have a somewhat limited color selection until we can afford to buy more colors from PP. If there's enough interest, we intend to make separate accounts for new color acquisition which people can donate to, as opposed to a more general donation to help the service. Donations are not a part of our business plan, though we hope that happy customers might want to help expand our capabilities for future orders. If there's a particularly colored small thing you want, just ask. We might have a little nip of some odd color around, as we've had time to collect them. (Certainly enough for a bitcoin simulacra, for example)Expansion of service:
We're currently serving one or two people at a time, working with them to make sure that they get what they want, hopefully without delay. The simpler the request, the better. If you have a model that others have printed before, it’s much more likely that we can print it without issue. If you have a new design of your own, we will work with you to negotiate any design problems.
In this sense, there is already a queue - contact us (me) to get in line.
In the long term, development of a BTC powered printing cloud isn't out of the question, either. It would be really neat to synch up printers with projects nearby (ala http://www.makexyz.com/
), potentially removing the need for postage (or as much postage perhaps, at least certainly reducing the time from maker to owner)
however there are some issues: Not everyone with a 3D printer can be trusted to deliver a quality part. We’re going to set that idea aside until we feel that it’s worth trying to implement (like if we can’t keep track of the submitted orders)
In short: the more that people make use of this service, the more opportunity we will have to expand beyond what we are currently capable of offering. If nothing else, it seemed cool to be able to turn BTC into real objects.
I'm looking to continue this conversation in further detail.
History: I had posted some info along these lines last week and found a first customer on Thursday. His order was shipped friday and perhaps he will be kind enough to give some feedback when his order arrives (hopefully Monday tomorrow). We are happily awaiting more orders, so if you want something printed do let me know.
I think we're open to suggestions as far as operation goes, so please contribute your thoughts! Our website should improve and evolve over time, and so we're open to suggestions there as well.
Also, Please ask questions so that we can build our FAQ! Frequently Asked Questions http://www.3dp4btc.com/faq/