Backers of the popular ONO (formerly OLO) smartphone 3D printer Kickstarter campaign have been asking, for some time now, where their rewards are and what exactly the Italian startup is up to. Since the campaign raised over $2 million in March 2016, it seems that we have just been given a handful video demonstrations, nice booths at events and a new website. Considering that the first printers were supposed to be shipped out in July 2016, questions have been raised about what the $2 million has been spent on and whether ONO 3D will ever deliver.
We’ve had our doubts about the ONO smartphone 3D printer for some time. As time drags on, it is looking more and more like the ONO smartphone 3D printers will never be delivered to all those who backed them on Kickstarter. Understandably, funders are becoming increasingly frustrated, demanding answers and/or their money back. Right now, it does not look promising. According to most comments (and there are several up to just a few hours ago), deliveries are as much as a year and a half late.
“This a joke. Delivery was expected two years ago,” says backer Mas. “I cancel my order and want a refund.”
Another backer writes:
‘Project Creators are required to fulfill all rewards of their successful fundraising campaigns or refund any Backer whose reward they do not or cannot fulfill.’
I demand a full refund for my pledge amount.
There are many more comments just like it. Too many. At the current pace of technology, a delay of two years makes the OLO-ONO a practically obsolete product in many aspects (such as lack of Bluetooth support, for example).
While users are aware that funding a project’s development offers no guarantees, it seems fair to expect that over two million in funding should have resulted in something more. It does not seem like anyone is willing to accept responsibility for this epic let-down. In fact, there is even a new live website that is accepting more pre-orders for the ONO in the U.S. and Europe. The startup is also currently seeking more funding through a StartEngine equity crowdfunding campaign. (The comments on this campaign are equally critical as on Kickstarter, though ONO 3D seems more responsive on the platform.)
It seems that the project’s founders, Pietro Gabriele and Filippo Moroni, are out of their depth and have not found any way to assuage their backers’ mounting concerns. Unsurprisingly, regular live videos posted to Facebook are not quite enough to convince their backers that they’re still being taken into serious consideration.
Still, Pietro Gabriele is proudly showing off the Kickstarter campaign results on his LinkedIn account and Filippo Moroni was still presenting “the future of 3D printing with a smartphone” at an innovator’s conference in London as recently as last November. His talk was supported by nice graphics and videos so at least we know where some of the funder’s money has gone. It also went to get the protective film certified by UL. The same UL that certifies safety and health standards for powders and fumes in industrial 3D printers. However, it seems rather unlikely that UL certification of the film was at the top of most backers’ list of concerns.
The money also went to fund Maker Faire participations (Bay Area, Berlin, Rome and NYC are not exactly cheap). At one of the latest ones in New York, the team appeared quite happy to show off a functioning prototype. Getting even the interviewer Joel Telling (who’s often skeptical of big claims) quite excited about it. However, a $2.7 million (mostly) functional prototype after two years simply does not seem to cut it. Even if the material cartridges do have nice bottles.
Unfortunately, this type of scenario is becoming all too common with 3D printer Kickstarters and crowdfunding campaigns. There are many exceptions, of course, but this latest incident certainly does not help the many engineers and innovators trying to get their products off the ground with crowdfunder help. South Korea’s Team Owl Works is another company that has seriously let its backers down. The company, which promised backers a low-cost resin 3D printer and raised over $200K, has failed to respond to any concerns raised over printer deliveries and refunds. Despite Team Owl Works leader SJ Park telling us an update was imminent over a month ago, the last update on Kickstarter was January 12th.