My Bits From Bytes (3d Systems) nightmare

I had a really bad experience with Bits From Bytes so I’m posting this as a record, I have provided 3D Systems with a copy, both BfB and 3D systems have been invited to comment but declined so y’know, fsk em, here is my story.

TLDR;
Bits From Bytes will not cover damage to the printer when on their premises
Bits From Bytes will charge you more than your initial quote
Bits From Bytes will not test your printer before shipping it back to you
Bits From Bytes will take a LOT longer than estimated to repair your printer.
Bits From Bytes will ship you your printer back in a state that will do damage to the printer.
Bits From Bytes will not fully repair the printer, you will be expected to finish their job for them.

*BfB = Bits from Bytes, a 3d printer company owned by 3D systems.

Chronological order of events:
2012-11-25 Customer rang up RE printer repair
2012-11-26 Customer had to visit online store to register printer for repair
2012-11-28 Customer shipped package to BfB (Customer took out insurance)
2012-12-01 Printer was damaged in Shipping
2012-12-01 BfB signed for Printer as “good condition”
2012-12-05 BfB told customer of damage to Printer
2012-12-05 Customer contacted shipping company claimed on insurance
2012-12-14 BfB offered to replace some parts for free using second hand parts
2012-12-14 Customer was told several additional parts required replacement
2012-12-18 Shipping company told customer BfB had signed for printer in “good condition”
2012-12-19 Customer was told cost of repairs would be ~£150
2012-12-19 Customer was told printer would be ready in 5 days
2013-01-02 Customer received quote for repairs of ~£270
2013-01-08 Customer still hasn’t received printer
2013-01-24 Customer emails support to ask for a status update
2013-01-24 Customer was told printer is ready (why wasn’t he informed?)
2013-01-24 Customer makes full payment via paypal
2013-01-24 Customer was told item would ship on the 2012-02-28 an would have the item on the 2012-02-29
2013-01-29 Customer received additional invoices for additional amounts despite all payments being made in full. (These invoices were not of the same value of the actual amount paid)
2013-01-29 Customer informed BfB that the invoices were non-relevant and that full payment had already been made.
2013-01-29 Customer emailed BfB requesting tracking number
2013-01-29 Customer was told printer hadn’t shipped but it would ship today and he would have on the 30th.
2013-01-30 Customer received printer
2013-02-01 Customer unboxed printer, no sign of visible damage from transit
2013-02-04 Customer asked BfB if printer had been tested
2013-02-04 BfB informed customer a test print cube was printed
2013-02-04 Customer informed BfB that if he aligns the print head it will damage the printer.
2013-02-05 Customer was asked to change settings on the printer.
2013-02-05 Customer informed BfB setting wasn’t available
2013-02-05 Customer informed printing was not performed after repairs completed but was tested before repairs completed (before printer bed was changed)
2013-02-05 BfB request customer update firmware (no instructions or resources provided)
2013-02-05 Customer requests resources from BfB to update firmware
2013-02-05 Customer provided resources from BfB to update firmware
2013-02-05 Customer requested help from BfB customer service manager for the second time (after receiving no response initially)
2013-02-05 Customer received email from BfB customer service manager stating technical would be in touch.
2013-02-05 Customer updated Firmware and ran initial compulsary scan
2013-02-05 Scan stuck the print head firmly into bed again damaging the print bed and possibly the head
2013-02-05 Customer informed BfB of the situation with the head stuck in the bed.
2013-02-05 BfB requested customer used a magnet and other tools to “trick” the printer into thinking it was in the position
2013-02-05 Customer did not have tools or skills available and was worried about further damage so declined and requested printer was delivered back to BfB to be repaired.
2013-02-05 Customer packaged up printer ready for collection
2013-02-06 UPS picked up up printer
2013-02-15 Customer received repaired printer however printer would not extrude material
2013-02-16 Customer informed BfB unable to extrude and printer head is lose on Z axis
2013-02-16 Customer resolved extrusion issue with advice from BfB
2013-02-18 Customer attempted to fix lose printer head issue however did not have required tools
2013-02-20 Customer requested a ball driver as to resolve the issue himself
2013-02-22 BfB dipatched ball driver to customer
2013-02-25 Customer resolved lose printer head issue himself using tool provided by BfB

Negative feedback:

  1. Communication is a problem, the fact I get an email but then have to log into a clunky web platform to access the information is painful.
  2. The value of the repairs changed and the promised ” i will stick a new bed on for you free of charge.” changed.
  3. The biggy for me is that the printer took way longer than estimated to be repaired. Technical dept stressed he would get it to me before Christmas.
  4. I was not given any updates when the printer is going to be back with me.
  5. I had to chase to get updates despite the printer being ready.
  6. Giving feedback to and/or filing a complaint has been overly difficult.
  7. My insurance was voided due to a signature from BfB, really this is the shipping company(UKMail) at fault.
  8. Delivery was late.
  9. Additional invoices were sent with no reasoning.
  10. Testing wasn’t completed.
  11. I had to finish the printer repairs.
  12. Customer service dept never got back to me.
  13. Customer ended up having to fix issues with the printer himself.

Positive feedback:

  1. Whenever I got the Technical dept on the phone they were polite, positive and sounded eager to repair the printer.
  2. Covering some of the costs of the damage done to the case by the Shipping company.
  3. Technical dept got me some pictures sent through for the insurance company.
  4. Shipping the printer back FOC.

In pictures:

Initial damage to be repaired

Damage done between UKMail (iPostParcels) and BfB

More pics of Damage done between UKMail (iPostParcels) and BfB:

Damage to the print head/bed after bodged first repair

Discussion on reddit

5 reasons I left Tinkercad for Blender

Tinkercad is a great free online CAD editor but Blender is a way better offline alternative. Tinkercad is very easy to get started with understanding the fundamentals of 3d modelling but it’s limitations of number of designs and polygons is a deal breaker.

Blender is a great free and open source tool that has extremely powerful features and amazing functionality. It is cross platform and extremely well documented.

So here are my 5 reasons:

1. Blender is free and open source, Tinkercad kept changing things around me (moving buttons etc) and it got confusing.
2. Blender supports more file formats
3. Blender can provide high quality image renders
4. Blender can create objects with more polygons
5. Blender has documentation for doing complex tasks

Download Blender today

Investing in 3D printing

TLDR; The companies that make the reels of ABS are a good shout, the actual printer companies are not a safe bet.

Also a lot of the online companies sculpteo etc. are not public yet despite having a lot of available capital.

Most of the consumer level printers are getting funding through stuff like kickstarter and most of them are fizzling out but contributing back to the larger reprap project.

Investors are invited into this sector unless you go higher up the chain (Parts). 3D printing is an example of how investment can go into the hands of the wealthy for quite a prolonged period of time(the innovation period) before it needs to go public.

Know at which point on the chain of supply you want to invest.

The main investment areas are:

1) Software / Web services (SaaS) stuff IE Sculteo, tinkercad, shapeways..

2) Printer manufacturers (see all the projects on kickstarter etc.) — some companies IE BitsFromBytes are toxic and should be avoided.

3) ABS suppliers

4) The electric motor, printer nozzle suppliers

IMHO the smart person longs on ABS or the motor suppliers ~(90%), the risk taker shorts on SaaS ~(30%), the dreamer shorts on hardware ~(5%).. % are my estimation on getting a positive return.

Also remember that amateurs who get good at 3D design are going to want to start using professional tools such as autocad/solidworks and that is another market you might want to look at. ¬†Personally I think Blender provides the best value and is the best modelling tool but as it’s FOSS you wont be able to invest with an expectation on return.

Someone who knows more about 3D printing than me might argue that ABS is less quality than the reductive powder available but I’d argue that amateurs wont need such high quality and that the ABS presents a better value case for the next ~10 years.

So yeah.. Here is your safe / long

Nintendo 3DS and working in small groups

Jeff did a great video explaining how the 3DS works. Useful info for any of the folks using Nintendo DS’ in the classroom at current.

Word on the street is that the 3DS is absolutely amazing. One thing to take into account is that with 3D you naturally get a lesser viewing angle so group work on one device won’t be possible!

I’m not a fan of nintendo technology but I’m getting one of these to see what I can hack onto it!