Saturday, May 6, 2017

A Refreshing 3D Printer Roll-Out Difference

If you never plan to purchase a new 3D printer to replace your Cube printer(s) then you can skip this blog post.

But, if you want to at least learn from my experiences as I look around for a future 3D printer, then you should find this helpful.

M3D in just now releasing the M3D Pro.

M3D Pro 3D Printer

I don't have one as yet.  But, it promises to be an excellent 7x7 printer with a lot of cool features.  But, that is not the focus of this post.  This post is about how one company is handling the introduction of a new 3D printer.

The M3D PRO Roll-Out Experience

M3D announced the Pro 3D printer on KickStarter in August of 2016 with expected delivery in January of this year.  While it is only just now being released, I have not heard any complaints about the delay as most supporters seem to be M3D Micro users and trust the company.  That is my own experience as well.

All companies are pressured by announcements.  We certainly experienced this with 3D Systems.  But, M3D had a greater commitment to reliability and quality.  They are also the most candid company I've seen when it comes to being realistic about the state of development.

As usual, promised delivery was based on different supporter tiers.  But, M3D has clearly stated what features will or will not be ready be various delivery dates.  And, they gave buyers the choice to accept early delivery, with the potential for possible issues or postponing delivery if they didn't want the potential hassle that an ALPHA release can entail.

Frankly, having seen the chaos of the premature delivery of the 3rd Gen Cube under the pressure of prior announcements, I REALLY appreciate M3D's approach.

As with any new product, the first delivered have had some not-unexpected minor issues.  Right now the machines being shipped are in the ALPHA stage of development and they are moving into machines that could be designated as BETA printers.  But, every one that is taking delivery now knows exactly what to expect and has chosen to take early delivery to help perfect the product.


Even though I do not have one as yet, as a Kickstarter Backer, I have access to the special forums that have been set up for backers.  So, I have been able to keep up with the roll-out as it progresses.

M3D's Top Management Involvement

When was the last time you saw top management of a company be actively involved in product support during the critical introductory phase?

As I've watched the support and interaction between M3D and users of ALPHA an BETA M3D Pro 3D printers, the first thing that strikes me is that it is the TOP management of M3D that is actively involved in direct support!

What a refreshing change that is!

I'm not talking about management asking or answering a few questions here or there.  I'm taking about the TOP management chasing down any and all issues that new Pro owners find and report.  And, they follow up with the user until they have a firm grasp of the issue so that they have they have the information that engineering will need to chase it down and correct it.  It's amazing to watch.

This has a profound affect of the progress of development.  It's one thing for a web support person to report an issue to engineering and quite another when the person reporting is a top official!  I expect things happen a bit faster in that situation.  But, it does something else.  And, this is why it makes so much sense you have to wonder why other CEOs and officials don't follow suit.

First, I can think of no better strategy for really having a handle on the REAL status of just about every aspect of your company from engineering to suppliers to production line quality control.  You're not "micro-managing"  You are gathering information and delegating fixes in the most pro-active way possible.

Secondly, it recognizes that at this particular period of time there is nothing more important than perfecting both the product and the production line as quickly and efficiently as possible.  The feedback is coming back to management completely unfiltered.

A, perhaps most importantly, it is an opportunity to gain the trust and respect your customers at a very critical time in the life of every company... the introduction of their latest and greatest product.

Believe me, while I do yet have a Pro printer, and I do not know the status of it's progress at the time I do take delivery, I do know one thing.  The people at the top at M3D not only care; but, will ACTIVELY support me should I face issues.

And, even if you are not among the KickStarter backers, once Pro is released into full production, the support you will get from their regular support staff is backed by management that has proven they care.  The attitude at the top at M3D trickles down in a very positive way.

Quite a nice feeling.  :)