Epic Fail

Pirate3D Fails to Deliver after $1.5M Kickstarter Campaign


Cash flow issues at Pirate3D have left people who backed the $1.5 million Kickstarter campaign still waiting for their Buccaneer 3D printer.

Pirate3DInvestors in Pirate3D have been left high and dry as their promised Buccaneer printers have failed to materialise.

The company had raised nearly $1.5M on Kickstarter in 2013 — a record amount at the time — based on promises of a simple 3D printer that anyone could use.

The first printers were supposed to ship to backers in February 2014, but this deadline was missed. By September 2014, only 200 products had shipped. Now, a year later, despite selling the product through retail channels, 60% of the original investors are still waiting.

In a statement which was released to those who had backed the product, republished on TechCrunch, Pirate3D Inc wrote: “The company has hit a major cash flow issue and to continue we will need to source for new funding.”

A total of 3,520 backers pledged money to the project, which included 3,389 who pledged over $300 to eventually get a printer. Today, it seems unlikely that backers will even get a refund.

What Went Wrong at Pirate3D?

Pirate3DLest we forget, backing a crowdfunded project is not the same as making a purchase. In our excitement and enthusiasm, it’s easy to overlook that there is no guaranteed return.

Crowdfunding through sites such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo and GoFundMe are investing schemes and can bring many unexpected risks. Pirate3D tries to explain:

“Initially we spent too much on R&D and bit off more than we could chew. Developing an entire ecosystem of our own combination of hardware, software and library was a far more costly engineering project than expected.”

Kickstarter changed its terms of service last October to give creators a way out of fulfilling their obligations so long as their specific criteria has been followed and met. This includes posting a report showing how funds were used and stating exactly what has gone wrong.

But these terms of use only applies to projects that launched after October 17, 2014. Pirate3D’s Buccaneer printer is exempt as it was funded the previous year and subject to a much different set of rules.

However, on the topic of their printers, Pirate3D said: “With our current hardware architecture including an onboard processor, wifi modules and linear rails, costs to build these machines have exceeded what we collected for them.”

The company also claimed that having to pay for shipping abroad was too much of a burden.

Although crowdfunding is a brilliant and innovative way to push products into production, promises are sometimes made that don’t take into account unexpected challenges, delays, and shortfalls.

The fate of Pirate3D is one of those unfortunate cases, and serves as a cautionary tale to the crowdfunding community.