Kickstarter for Mono Desktop 3D Printer off to Shaky Start

Mono Desktop 3D Printer
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New on Kickstarter is the Mono desktop 3D printer with a touchscreen interface. Looks interesting, but the launch has had teething troubles.

Mono Desktop 3D PrinterRecently, ALL3DP ran an article about things to be aware of when backing crowdfunding campaigns. Supporting innovation is important, but so is protecting consumers from shoddy products.

The past week has seen the launch of three 3D printing campaigns on Kickstarter; DIY Headphones Kit, CubeForme, and now the Mono Desktop 3D Printer from Mono Industries. We’re curious about the Mono because of its compact design and very attractive price-point — starting at 325 euro — and the inclusion of a touchscreen interface.

The Mono Desktop 3D printer provides a build volume of 16 x 16 x 16 cm, and the 7 inch touchscreen offers access to all the essential functions, as well as providing visuals during the printing process. The 3D printer also supports cloud services like Google Drive and Dropbox, and is able to visualise GCode and simulate a 3D print before any filament has been extruded.

It sounds amazing, right? But…. alarm bells are ringing.

Digging Deeper into Mono Industries

Mono Desktop 3D PrinterFor starters, the website listed on the campaign page has been down for the past 72 hours. Not a good way to inspire confidence among potential backers.

And while the domain is registered to an address in Poland, the stated location of the project is London, UK. We’ve also seen separate reports (here and here) that the company is actually a startup operating out of Berlin, Germany. What’s going on here?

With some confusion about who exactly the Mono team is, we contacted Filip Finke, CEO of Mono Industries Europe, for a few words on the company and story.

He explained that he has three business partners: Piotr Bojanowski, CTO; Pawel Moregiel, Sales Manager; and Daria Siwek, law student and management graduate. The team started on a university campus but is now spread around the UK, Germany and Poland. They hope this will help optimize their market and assist in creating a powerful supply chain.

Something else is puzzling us, however. The crowdfunding campaign for the Mono Desktop 3D Printer is not confined to Kickstarter. An identical campaign, operated by the same team, was launched on Indiegogo nearly two weeks ago (and has raised scarcely any funding).

There are no specific rules against running two crowdfunding campaigns simultaneously, but it’s widely considered bad practice. From the backer perspective, the limited exclusivity of the tiered rewards evaporates if, say, a tier is “all gone!” on one platform but still available on another. The Super Early Bird reward for a Mono on Kickstarter — where you can snap one up for 325 euro — is no longer available, but the equivalent award is still freely available on Indiegogo for 280 pounds.

Another reason not to do it, from the entrepreneur perspective, is that you’re diluting the impact of your campaign by appealing to backers on separate platforms. Potential revenue streams are split, which is especially dangerous with Kickstarter; a product only becomes available to backers when it’s been fully funded.

Last, but not least, running a crowdfunding campaign is extremely hard work. Why divide your focus across two platforms, when it’s difficult enough to manage one to a satisfactory level?

Should you back the Mono Desktop 3D Printer?

Mono Desktop 3D PrinterSifting though the shaky foundations of this campaign, it seems the problems are less about fraudulent intentions than a series of unfortunate choices.

The team have been unlucky with their website, perhaps, but created unnecessary confusion by not being clear about their base of operations. Worse is hopping between different crowdfunding platforms, making their backer rewards worthless in the process.

Which is a shame, because the Mono Desktop 3D printer actually looks very promising, and has (according to both campaign pages) benefited from the European Social Fund in its development cycle.

The lesson here is that clarity and planning is of the utmost importance in a crowdfunding project. You can still give Mono Industries the benefit of the doubt and bless them with your backing. But if do you, make sure you go in knowing all the facts.

Questions or comments on this story? Let us know!