Grant Diffendaffer

Design. Make. Educate.


Did you hear the one about the Peachy Printer? Guy asks for $100,000 to build a $100 3D printer. Raises over a million dollars between Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Backerkit, the Canadian government and his family for his dream. Partner secretly spends over $300,000 on a house. CEO covers up theft to apparently maintain face, recoup funds, continue development. Recovers $100,000 from thief who defaults repayment agreement. Spends the vast majority of the rest of the funds on salary. Goes broke. Blames theft. Releases taped “confession” from thief that he has been holding over his head for 18 months to extract payment. Thief said he was coerced to confess. Project dead in water. Inventor very bummed. Backers? (pissed). Canadian authorities notified 6 months ago but don’t know what to do with this new fangled crowdfunding thing.

Eric Greene, director of consumer protection with the province’s Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority, is working to determine what people thought they would get in return for their money.

“Was it a gift, a donation, an investment, a contribution or a purchase? Was the promise that you would get a product at the end of the day dependent on a variety of issues?”

There are a few big questions here. Is it legitimate to blame the loss of a portion of funds for the failure of the project? There was much more money spent on the salaries of the developers than was left ultimately outstanding to the embezzler. Only a portion of the funds are included in the peachyprinter.com mea culpa fancy graphics. How much was raised by Backerkit? Critically, how does Backerkit’s lack of user facing terms of service regarding such transactions as “pre-orders” affect the transacting parties? We know that funds given to Kickstarter and Indiegogo have basically no guarantee of returning any reward. What about Backerkit’s blurring of the lines with the concept of a pre-order? Is this any different than an order?

When I contacted Backerkit to tell them that I had been defrauded by Peachy, they replied that they were very very sorry, but

“due to the recent developments in the Peachy Printer project, we are unable to handle cancellation or refund requests at this time.”

I explained to them that I was under the impression that my transaction was framed as a pre-order, and asked them if they could clearly define this concept for me. Their answer?

“Unfortunately, BackerKit does not currently have a public-facing Terms Of Service for Pre-orders, and this debacle is definitely pushing that to the top of our to-do-list.”

I’ll bet it is.

Here is how Backerkit promotes the concept of pre-orders on their site:

Expand your fan base
A crowdfunding campaign is an exciting event, not a store. Kickstarter has been clear about their position on this, and we think it’s a good idea to retain the sanctity of that event, too. But offering preorders doesn’t actually reduce the value or excitement of this event—it’s just a way for you to allow more people to support your project.

But just to make sure to retain the sanctity of the original campaign, you can always create a little bit of differentiation between pre-order backers and your original backers. Most pre-order backers are excited just to have the option to get in on a campaign that they missed out on, so the easiest way to differentiate is usually to offer slightly different pricing options for pre-order rewards. Rarely have we heard of a campaign’s original backers actually being upset that the creator offered pre-orders after the official end-date. In the end, you’re just allowing more people to get on board and broadening the reach of your project.

Just down the same page, they say this:

Pre-orders also allow you to keep momentum going outside of Kickstarter and Indiegogo. With the added convenience brought by the new Kickstarter Spotlight feature, you can easily lead backers to your own site for pre-orders, whether it be via the BackerKit Pre-orders Widget or your personal online store.

So if Kickstarter is not a store, and Backerkit is differentiating itself from that “event,” what is a pre-order from a store if not just an early order? Where, pray tell, is the sanctity?

This case has serious implications for the crowdfunding community. The story broke two days ago and the thousands of backers are dying for answers. I, for my part, backed the project both because I wanted the product and because I thought the innovative cost-cutting design choices the inventor was working with deserved support. This was a scrappy project from the start and appear to have been simply unprepared for the amount of money that came its way. Clever inventor does not equal successful CEO. Apparently heavy equipment mechanic makes really bad CFO.

This is how embezzler David Boe introduced himself to the forum of Peachy Printer Beta testers back in April 2014:

ScreenClip

In other words, backers are supposed to accept that they have been hung out to dry because our Fearless Inventor parked his car in this strangers driveway, then Kickstarter deposited $587,435.73 in his personal account. And the inventor was too absorbed tinkering to notice.

The internet seems to divide in three on the matter. There are those that see Rylan Grayston as the victim he claims to be, who only did what he had to do–who had no choice under the circumstance. There are those that think his cover-up hurts his credibility even if he was in a very tough spot. Then there are many who don’t believe a word he says (or for that matter the video-taped confession of the thief, David Boe).

I have been following this project closely ever since its inception at the end of 2016. I backed it at the Beta tester level both because of the promise to send me a Beta kit immediately and for the opportunity to become part of a community of people supporting the development of the product. The community never materialised, and the company was making revisions fast enough to make the kit obsolete almost as soon as I got it. I continued to follow updates over the following two years. Knowing now that the money was missing from the start makes me call into question whether or not the makers were truly making a good-faith effort to bring the product to backers. Only an investigation will clear this up.

As angry as I am i still believe Rylan Grayston–mostly. He strikes me as ernest, amateur, and truly heartbroken by this affair. But I can’t reconcile his blaming the Peachy failure on David Boe, his partner who stole the money. Nor can I get over the fact that I pre-ordered when they made that offer after the Kickstarter. The money had already been stolen. The company continued to raise money from the public and the government despite being aware of the internal fraud. That is the worst part. Unfortunately for Rylan, I’m afraid it also may put him in the position of answering criminal charges. It most certainly exposes him to severe legal liability. It damns his credibility. Nevertheless, I’m inclined to think that he did what he felt he had to, and maybe even was trying to limit damage to his remorseful former friend.

This does not make matters any better really. I can’t forgive the fact that I contributed when asked, after it should have been clear that the money was not where it should have been. This was a practice that continued throughout the life of the company, run low on cash–scramble for someone else to buy in. Bad news. Ever hear of a pyramid scheme? I first received this opportunity on Jan 08, 2014, and I made payment on 2/12/14. I’m not accusing Rylan Grayston of knowingly defrauding me–yet. The fact remains however that when I paid in $620, David Boe had already spent almost $320,000 on building a house. What was Rylan doing with his portion of the funds during this time?

ScreenClip [2]

The answer is he was spending almost $400,000 on salary and wages. Oops. No wonder Peachy decided to announce seven months later that the “Peachy Printer is Now Available for pre-order.” They sent this email on 10/15/14:

peachy_pre-order

That was a year and a half ago folks. Peachy Printer was totally broke then. This was three weeks after Peachy hit rock bottom. Three weeks after the September 18th date that Rylan gives as the day he finally demanded the remainder of all corportate funds from David Boes personal account–and received only $30,000.  This left $320,000 outstanding. That is why they said the printer is available and offered it for “pre-order.”

When I look back at the email that I got asking for money, three months after the theft, it does say that the terms of transaction are essentially those of the kickstarter. It’s not exactly legal language but the idea is that there is no obligation to deliver put upon Peachy. It is a risk. That email came from Kaleb Dunlop.

ScreenClip [3]

I can’t find much on Kaleb, but he seems to be some young kid that was working for the Peachy team. When I google him I get this link for a Google Plus page,

ScreenClip [4]

Strangely, clicking the link leads to the following page:

ScreenClip [5]

Is Kaleb Dunlop actually Nathan Grayston? What does this mean? It seemed suspicious, so naturally I googled to see if Superman and Clark Kent were ever seen together:

ScreenClip [6]

Dunlop is the big kid in this 2012 photo, holding the Skateboard. Nathan Grayston (Rylan’s brother and also a Peachy employee), is on the far right. Two totally innocent kids at a community skatepark groundbreaking. They look well intentioned. Why the link for Kaleb’s Google Plus page apparently leads to Nathan’s page is anybody’s guess. I’m sure the authorities will be talking to everybody who worked for Peachy. Rylan says when the fraud was discovered that he and his brother took massive paycuts and moved out of their commercial space into a shared home that they worked out of. You’ve got to wonder what they were all being paid before–and WHY?

As for other failures, too much time and money was actually spent towards the product relative to original estimates. Like any project, there were unforeseen challenges and delays. However, either the prototypes presented in the Kickstarter were far-under developed, successive generations failed to focus on minimum viable product, or the whole project was doomed from the start by it’s insistence on being the worlds first $100 3D printer. There are reasons that there wasn’t one before and still isn’t now. Clever innovations piled on top of each other might make a great story, a good pitch even, but there are reasons that existing technology incorporates the design choices that it does. It’s one thing to reinvent the wheel, but when you add in better mousetraps and discovering fire you might just be setting yourself up for failure.

I, like many in the backer community are struggling with how to frame this story. Is it a criminal caper or a tragedy? It looks like both.

Oh, and by the way, my Peachy Printer Beta kit is up on ebay–brand new, unassembled, highly collectible.

Read More

I’m appreciating this take on this particular scandal from Makers Muse:

Summarizing my thoughts almost exactly–with the exception that I’m somewhat lacking in sympathy for Rylan Grayston at this point. If his story is true then he has been victimized by his partner David Boe. Regardless of his story, the fact remains that Peachy burned through a million dollars before it was all done (not including the $200,000 allegedly outstanding to Boe). They only asked for $100,000 via Kickstarter and Indiegogo. They were over-funded by a factor of 12. The missing money is 16% of their total take.

I waited patiently all along because I believed everything Rylan was reporting. It has been a long haul but I would rather have them make the best possible product rather than get something unfinished. No doubt it has been a massive undertaking, and scaling up to the size of production required is a challenge. It was clear from the start that prototypes were rudimentary. The appeal was the number of innovative things being done to cut cost. Unfortunately many of those decisions cut quality as well. The revisions that were made in development clearly went to address key shortcomings (“innovations” like driving laser mirror galvanometers with an audio signal).

Many “clever” innovations were actually a huge challenge that needed to be overcome by substantial design revisions and had the potential to be fatal flaws (see top down build). It was more like a really cool science fair project than anything. I wanted printers out of it, but I also backed it because any level of success it had was going to drive competition and lower prices across the board. The fact remains that if you want quality, it will cost money.

Two years later, Peachy has been surpassed by more important innovations. Many bottom up resin printer technologies have come to pass. Layerless printing ala Carbon. Barrier technologies that reduce mechanical force for layer separation from the vat surface. LCD curing like the Uniz Slash.

I don’t doubt that Rylan was unprepared for the level of success he found with his campaigns. It may be that he was simply hamstrung by his ambition for the project and he overreached on development. Maybe people got paid too much. There has been some debate on this fact and it will be telling to have some analysis of the numbers. What seems evident is that 70% of detailed funding went to salaries of 8 people.

For his part, Rylan claims to be near to shipping printers, stuck at 70% completion on the first run of 600. I have been following development closely and find this credible. He claims as he has done all along that the team is doing everything to push forward and beyond the parts and assembly time needed for the additional printers, all that is required is to pass the laser certification process which has begun, and is required to ship to the majority of backers. This also is credible on the surface.

What is difficult to swallow is this idea that the whole thing is falling apart because of the 16% David allegedly retains. Yes, Rylan is earnest, and believable to those of us that have followed him all along. His claim that he hid this theft to wrest control of the company from David, maintain public dignity and continue development does make sense, even if it is the wrong choice. That choice hurts his credibility and I think it can only be restored via thorough investigation.

Crowdfunding has no guaranteed payoff. It is ripe for scams because no one is required to actually deliver. I’m inclined to believe that the worst thing that I have suffered is a somewhat pricey lesson in due diligence and desire. Perhaps I should have thought better with my money. I will definitely not back anything in the future because I feel like I need it. You can’t need something that doesn’t exist yet. If you need it now–better get something real.

Still, if the battle is between imaginary $100 resin printers of tomorrow and the fully functional $400 filament printers of today, it won’t be long before they come head to head.

I’m sorry to see such a catastrophic demise for the Peachy Printer project. No doubt Mr Grayston would like to attract investors to push the project forward. I’d say that probably ain’t gonna happen. He has at least followed through on a promise to open source everything. So you can build your own Peachy. There’s that. He has also posted updates answering many of the questions people have.

Meanwhile, bidding is open on my Peachy Printer Beta Tester Kit. Someday there will be a movie about this (I’m sure Rylan will sell the rights). The story it would tell is still unraveling. Who knows what this kit will be worth someday. Just imagine.

Read More

Billed as the first $100 3D printer and scanner, it was almost too good to be true. Now, it’s a million dollar scandal that is rocking Kickstarter and Indiegogo. After two years of delays past promised shipping and nebulous updates of continuing development, Peachy Printer project head Rylan Grayston has come forward to present backers with a well crafted and graphically endowed sob story of his victimization at the hands of his business partner David Boe, whom he says built a house with over $350,000 in backer funds, leaving him broke.

david_boe_house

Apparently, the embezzled funds can not even be fully recouped from the unfinished home.

This is a historic occasion for both the 3D printing community and for crowdfunding more generally, which has been reeling a bit from other high profile project failures (see Coolest). Mr Grayston presents himself as well intentioned. He also is a victim, he says. While that may be the case, his handling of the matter is a failure almost on a par with that of his evidently criminal business partner. Specifically, having had knowledge of this embezzlement for well over a year, as well as reason to believe the funds were in danger ever since the project was funding, Rylan Grayston did not go to the police until he had run out of money himself, nor did he report the truth to backers. Being unable to fully recoup on a supposed “repayment agreement” from his lowlife partner, Grayston has now gone public with his “plight”. I can’t bear to watch the video myself, complete as it is with fancy editing and a dubstep soundtrack. Did these jerks just spend money to tell us we got ripped off?

With today’s announcement, Peachy has revealed an elaborate website which purports to show that Peachy has been acting in good faith and place the blame entirely on the actions of David Boe. If comments on the Kickstarter and Indiegogo pages are any indication, backers feel the polished presentation only adds insult to injury.

The timeline on peachyprinter.com is meant to be exculpatory, shifting blame to Boe. What it tells me is that Grayston knew this was a problem for a long time. Instead of making the predicted delivery in October 2014, the company was broke, having spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on salary. When exactly Grayston “knew” Boe had stolen the money will be a question for courts and journalists. What he did clearly know was that his company had no money and could not deliver on time.

While Grayston may have hoped that Boe would fully repay the company (he apparently did in part), the company also launched a pre-order campaign in October 2014, after it had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on salary and was nearly broke. On October 15, 2014, Peachy emailed sent the following email with the header: “The Peachy Printer Now Available!”

peachy_pre-order

Two weeks later they bounced their $17,000 payroll. By mid December, 2014, this confession from Boe was apparently filmed:

Here is the period during which the theft was allegedly discovered. (via peachyprinter.com):

timeline02

Unfortunately, rather than involve the police, Grayston apparently tried to eke out a product over the next year and a half. Eventually the shoestring broke, leading to today’s admission of insolvency. The internet will no doubt judge Peachy quite harshly, as they have been doing for some time already. For my part, I half believe Grayston. I backed Peachy via the Backerkit website at the $600 Beta Tester level. For my money, I was to receive two kits, one of the existing Beta product, the second of the final product launch. I did receive my kit back in May of 2014. My judgement at the time was that it was not worth my time to assemble–development was apparently somewhat rudimentary, and the promised community of Beta developers turned out to be a dud. I instead chose to wait until the final product launched, with the hope of making an easy upgrade to my part kits.

Being in possession of one of these rare Beta kits gives me somewhat more faith in the good intentions of Rylan Grayston. I have eagerly watched many updates over the last year purporting advances in development and offering revised ship dates. This small measure of faith is little consolation though and I really would like my money back. He could be accused of covering up this scandal while leaving backers in the dark.  That seems incontrovertible. Perhaps the man still believed in his dream and simply saw it crumbling if he were not to save face. Maybe he thought he could really pull it off. Maybe he really believed David Boe when he agreed to pay all the money back.

Only time will tell when it comes to the true details of this scandal. Those details will no doubt come out. Grayston has even penned an open letter to authorities and requests that backers contact police as well. I’ll do that. But first I need to unload my beta kit.

How about this. I’m out $600 bucks but I’ve got a relic that is the only thing in the world separating Peachy Printer from vaporware. Now it’s on ebay. Want your own piece of history? The first $100 3D printer? No guarantee made as to function, but the parts all seem to match the packing list.

A lot of people stand to be disappointed by this state of affairs and no resolution is in sight. Perhaps the greatest loser is the idea of crowdfunding itself, which is going to need some serious revision to restore the trust of backers. Not only will Kickstarter and Indiegogo be spinning their wheels to sort this out, but little known Backerkit is going to have some explaining of its own to do. Let’s hope crowdfunding recovers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read More

This is not a Kickstarter! This is an old-fashioned Grand Opening Sale! I have decided that for now the best crowdfunding for this business is organic growth. Save 25% at our online store from now until May 27th. Just use the code “grand opening” at checkout and get free shipping too!

Purchasing our vintage-inspired jewelry is both a great way to get your style on and is also a huge support for small business. With your patronage, we will be able to support continued production and development of our line. On our website, you will find a large selection of earrings in copper, bronze, and fine-silver. Stock is limited but we will be taking back-orders, which will take about 2 weeks to fulfill.

We will be investing our profit right back into the business and look forward to bringing you an expanded selection of men’s and women’s jewelry and accessories. Come find us at Maker Faire, May 20th-22nd, and as always, at steadcraft.com

Read More

The beauty of photogrammetry is the ability to create a 3D model from ordinary photographs. This opens up great opportunity to people who could use such models for 3D printing or digital media but don’t know how to design with CAD. How could this be better? Well, you don’t even have to take the photos yourself.

If you can download photos, you can 3D model.  Try Google Images, Flickr, etc., to gather a collection of photos of a given subject.  Upload them into software like Memento–hey presto, 3D model. Check out the following Manhattan model I made while developing this 3D printed sculpture (photos from Google Earth):

Similarly, I’m modeling a Gaudí designed gate in Barcelona via crowd-sourced imagery. Finca Güell:

Read More

If you haven’t seen it lately, check out my Portfolio, which I’ve given a little face-lift to.  Here is a quick look at a few of my favorites from over the years:

Read More

Faster resin printers are a hotspot for venture capital right now. The primary stumbling block in this technology is the layer separation mechanism. These printers all pull a model out of a vat of resin “Terminator” style, using an upside down build platform and a light source beneath the bottom of the transparent resin vat. What this means is that, after curing a layer, the build platform lifts one layer height and the next layer is cured. The problem is, after curing, the resin is liable to be bonded to the bottom of the vat, preventing the platform from being able to pull away from the vat.

carbon

Solutions are either mechanical or material.  

Read More

Fast, and unsurpassed for high resolution detail, accuracy, and surface finish, SLA and DLP based resin printing is proven technology that has taken a solid foothold in the prosumer 3D printing market. There are fewer entries here than the overladen FFF/FDM field for several reasons, but it can still be difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff.

I’ve been considering the upgrade to resin printing for several years because of its particular suitability to jewelry production. Build volumes can be somewhat limited because of focusing limitations with the relative resin-curing light sources (laser for SLA and digital image projector for DLP), but that doesn’t affect most jewelry applications. Castable resins are available to allow printing “wax” for lost wax casting. DLP allows curing an entire layer at once, relative to the slower process of tracing a line with a laser, so it lends itself to printing trays full of densely packed small parts.

FernandoCortez_B9C

By Fernando Cortez, via B9Creator

Promises abound in the 3D  printing world, but delivery is another thing. With extrusion based FFF/FDM printing, the market has years of industrial and open source development to build upon. Resin printing has only more recently broken loose into the wild. There are open source projects you can follow here, but there are fewer examples, and a smaller community. There are also larger problems to solve and the whole thing costs more than building your own filament printer. For this reason, I would highly recommend choosing an established and proven performer, like one of the following printers.

Read More
Share
Share