2015 was a big year for everyone here at Carbide 3D so we wanted to take a little time to fill everyone in on what’s been going on.
Standing behind our product
We shipped A LOT of machines this year between Nomad and Shapeoko and we’re proud to say that we’ve stood behind every machine. Nobody has paid for replacement parts, diagnostic fees, or support of any kind.
We make sure that every machine works in the field no matter what the source of the problem is. It doesn’t matter if we have to get on Skype and walk a customer through a fix, or overnight new parts out.
We didn’t sell out
We continue to be a self-funded company- we’ve taken no outside investments of any kind, VC or otherwise and this is something we are really proud of. We feel that being self-funded is important for the longterm sustainability of our products and our company.
And now, in rough chronological order:
We bought a Haas VF-2SS a year ago, and started from scratch - getting it setup, ordering tooling, and learning how to use it in production. Within a few weeks we were using the Haas to make vises for the Nomad and each month we took on one more part and began making it in-house.
Every Kickstarter Machine Shipped
While we were proud of shipping all of the Kickstarter machines, we didn’t realize how rare this can be. We hear more and more about KS campaigns that never ship their products so we’re glad to be, “One of the good ones”.
We started work on the Nomad Pro, the second generation of our desktop CNC machine. We incorporated a lot of what we learned in the Kickstarter phase to design a machine that was more rigid, faster to produce, and could be made mostly in-house.
We started work on our own 2D CAD/CAM, Carbide Create. We spent a long time trying to decide what platform, cloud or local, and what the workflow and interface should be. We wanted it to be easy to learn but not so focused on ease of use that it’s too limited to do real work.
We’re only about 3-4 months in and it’s starting to become useful. We think it’s going to become “great” in 2016
Shapeoko 3 in-stock
If you followed the launch of SO3, it was full of delays caused by honest mistakes made by some really good vendors, and outright lies told by bad ones. It took most of the year to get caught up but we finally got machines “in stock”. As of right now, most machines ship within 24 hours.
“Best Desktop CNC”
Make: Magazine named the Nomad 883 as the “Best Desktop CNC Machine” in their annual Digital Fabrication issue.
Shapeoko Wins for best bench top
The attention of the Nomad winning Best Desktop CNC overshadowed another big win, Shapeoko 3 won 2nd place for “Best Mid-size CNC”. Even more impressive is the fact that first place was an $8000 machine and third place was $3000. (Shapeoko 3 is $999) If that doesn’t make the Shapeoko 3 value clear, we don’t know what does.
Sparkfun & Makershed
We picked up our first two resellers in November- Sparkfun and Makershed.
We talked to Sparkfun almost 18 months ago about working together on the Shapeoko 3, but the production delays mentioned above meant that we weren’t able to move forward until late in 2015. We ended up making a custom mechanical kit for them to pair with a jointly-designed “Stepoko” controller board that they manufacture. So far, this collaboration has been a win for everyone.
We started shipping our first Shapeoko accessories, the homing switch kit, and our 1/2” threaded aluminum table.
The tables sold out before they ever hit the market so we’ve got another batch heading into production right now.
Very late in December, we took delivery of a Brother Speedio S700X1 machining center. Our Haas has been cranking out parts all year but we needed more output than one machine could deliver.
We’re still learning how to run the Speedio but it’s been very productive in the first weeks.
When we compare the employee count in Dec 2015 to that in 2014, it’s a shocking change (at least to us). We added our latest employee to the shop a few weeks ago and we suspect 2016 will see a few more people added.
It was bound to happen eventually, but the knockoffs have appeared. We’ll have more to say about this in the coming months. Just remember, if you see a wood-wrapped CNC machine, or anyone selling flip jigs, you saw it here first.
Wrap-up the wrapup
We still get people asking if we’re shipping yet, I guess it’s a question we’ll get for a while based on our Kickstarter origins. The answer is, “We’re shipping, and in higher quantities than ever before!”
Here’s what we’re not doing yet- spending time on marketing. We’ve made the conscious decision to focus all of our effort on making customers successful with our machines. That means:
- Writing Carbide Create and giving it away at no extra charge
- Continuously tweaking the product to eliminate any potential problems
- Making a big push on documentation and user education.
- Having the founders, not low-level techs, handle tech support.
We think that the results of this work is just beginning to show and that “The Carbide Experience” will get better and better each day.
If we’re not going to focus on marketing right now then we need one thing from you, please tell a friend about us.
Thanks for your support in 2015, 2016 should be a great year.