The Tiko Printer: What Happens When You Innovate Too Much

Sometime in the very distant future, the Universe will become the domain of black holes. Energy and entropy will be compressed into minuscule quantum fluctuations. Even in this domain of nothingness, there will still be one unassailable truth: you should not buy a 3D printer on Kickstarter.

We’re no strangers to failed 3D printer crowdfunding campaigns. Around this time last year, backers for the Peachy Printer, an inordinately innovative resin printer, found out they were getting a timeshare in Canada instead of a printer. This was unusual not because a crowdfunding campaign failed, but because we know what actually happened. It’s rare to get the inside story, and the Peachy Printer did not disappoint.

For the last few months, we’ve been watching another crowdfunding campaign on its long walk to the gallows. The Tiko 3D printer is another 3D printer that looks innovative, and at the time of the crowdfunding campaign, the price couldn’t be beat. For just $179 USD, the backers of the Tiko printer would receive a 3D printer. Keep in mind the Tiko launched nearly two years ago, when a bargain-basement printer still cost about $400. Fools and money, or something like that, and the Tiko 3D printer campaign garnered almost three million dollars in pledges.

Now, after almost two years of development, Tiko is closing up shop. In an update posted to the Tiko Kickstarter this week, Tiko announced they are laying off their team and winding down operations. It’s a sad but almost predictable end to a project that could have been cool. Unlike so many other failed crowdfunding campaigns, Tiko has given us a post-mortum on their campaign. This is how the Tiko became a standout success on Kickstarter, how it failed, and is an excellent example of the difference between building one of something and building ten thousand.

Why the Tiko Was a Hit

The Tiko printer was an easy sell. All you had to do was look at your favorite tech blog and see someone was selling a 3D printer for less than one hundred dollars. Yes, that was the super early bird price, but that’s cheap for a 3D printer. In 2015, unimaginably so. The regular price, and what non-early bird Kickstarter backers paid, was only $179 USD. Even today, with the machinations of dozens of factories in China, this is a very inexpensive price point. In fact, only with the upcoming release of Monoprice’s $150 delta printer will we see a printer that is as capable while still being this inexpensive.

The astonishing economy of the Tiko leads to an obvious question. How did the Tiko team plan to build a 3D printer and send it out the door for less than $200? Even today, sourcing and building the most bare bones i3 clone will cost more than that. In 2015, the costs were even higher.

unibody
Tiko’s unibody construction. By building a linear motion system into the enclosure, Tiko significantly reduced the cost of their bill of materials.

The answer comes from something that sounds like it’s glomming onto Apple ad copy: unibody construction. The body of the Tiko is a single part with an integrated c-channel used as the linear rails of this delta bot. This unibody construction is, quite simply, ingenious. If you’ve ever assembled a RepRap Mendel, or any of the other threaded rod printer monstrosities from back in the day, you know the frame of a 3D printer is what makes or breaks the build. By using an extrusion with integrated rails, the Tiko team brought the cost of a frame down while making their assembly easier. From a manufacturing standpoint, Tiko’s unibody construction is brilliant, and we won’t be surprised when we see another delta bot with the same sort of enclosure.

At its very core, Tiko was innovative. This is a 3D printer that was built around standardized manufacturing processes. Yes, building a ‘unibody’ 3D printer will require a significant capital investment to get the first printer off the assembly line. Once that’s done, though, the creators of the Tiko printer would have a viable product that could be manufactured for far less than their competitors.

Why the Tiko Failed

Tiko put a lot of innovation into their unibody frame. Unfortunately, they decided to extend that innovation to the rest of the printer. Even before the Tiko Kickstarter was a week old, the 3D printer forumheads had questions about the Tiko printer.

The usual method for linear motion in a 3D printer is a stepper motor. NEMA 17 stepper motors are par for the course. The historical pricing of NEMA 17 motors is itself interesting: back in 2008, before the RepRap project came to fruition, it wasn’t unrealistic to spend $40 on a single NEMA 17 motor with a driver. Now, you can pick up the same parts for less than half that cost.

Instead of relying on the ecosystem that has enabled very inexpensive printers, Tiko chose to go their own way. They used cheaper but much lower torque stepper motors on their printer. This would cause severe issues with the printer. Of the over four thousand units Tiko shipped, there were far too many reports of layer shifting and missed steps than you would expect. In the most severe cases, the Tiko printer could not print a simple cube.

This should be a cube. Because of poor component selection, the Tiko printer was not reliable. Image source.
This should be a cube. Because of poor component selection, the Tiko printer was not reliable. Image source.

Even in the electronics, Tiko strove for innovation.

Right now, the state of electronics for 3D printers is heavily derived from the original RepRap projects. Derivatives of the Arduino Mega, using the ATmega2560 and ATmega32u2 microcontrollers, are the norm. The new LulzBot Brain Box uses a RAMBo board with this microcontroller. The electronics for the vast majority of 3D printers is derived from those initial 3D printer experiments, and that means a decade of technical debt.

Tiko advertised WiFi printing during their Kickstarter campaign. Right now, the easy way to do a WiFi printer would be a standard ATmega-based controller board with an ESP8266 WiFi module. This would be easy, but it wouldn’t be cheap. Instead of the easy solution, Tiko turned to a neat WiFi-enabled microcontroller released by Texas Instruments. The CC3200 gave the Tiko a powerful ARM Cortex-M4 microcontroller and WiFi. Given the smooth acceleration found in even the cheapest ARM controller boards, this is a win.

But there’s a reason everyone keeps using older Arduino-based controller boards. Nearly all the firmware for 3D printers is built around the Arduino Mega. Building a printer controller board around a relatively new part means building everything from scratch. This is development time Tiko didn’t have, and engineering time Tiko couldn’t afford.

Despite this, Tiko actually managed to build and ship over four thousand printers. Given Tiko took in nearly three million dollars from 16,000 Kickstarter backers, this doesn’t sound like much. Consider the decisions Tiko made, and it’s remarkable. They had ordered their complete BOM before a prototype was finalized. The decision to use cheap stepper motors led directly to the very poor performance of the finalized design. The efforts to fix hardware problems in software were not effective. Eventually, Tiko had too much technical debt to pay off. It certainly didn’t help that this was a 3D printer selling for a bargain-basement price, either. There’s only so much margin on a $200 printer, and from the start there wasn’t much left over for the engineering needed to make a good, cheap 3D printer.

The Future of Tiko

By the end of 2016, Tiko was effectively dead. Last week, they gave up, shutting down production, and refusing to refund backers. Tiko has even refused refunds on shipping costs, a move that led to an online petition and — get this — a Kickstarter campaign to start a class action lawsuit against Tiko. Tiko is dead, although they are actively pursuing additional investors.

Far too often we look at Kickstarters from an engineering perspective. What’s missing in these discussions is a look at Kickstarters from a business perspective. What Tiko has done is out-innovated themselves. They came up with a rather remarkable system for the frame of a 3D printer, but one that isn’t quite right for a hardware startup. They developed brand new hardware for the 3D printer community but backed themselves into a corner when their engineering team couldn’t keep up. They spent all their money buying components before their design was finalized. These aren’t poor engineering decisions, they’re poor business decisions.

Twelve thousand people have spent $200 (plus about $60 in shipping) on a printer they won’t receive. Four thousand people have a printer that doesn’t live up to their expectations. The Tiko team has a three million dollar failure hanging over their heads. No one is happy with this situation. Yet it can all be traced back to a single problem. This is what you get when you innovate too much.

75 thoughts on “The Tiko Printer: What Happens When You Innovate Too Much

  1. Funny thing is : it’s not like there weren’t people warning people about the obvious problems with the Peachy and Tiko projects. I was one of them and I saw *a lot* of other members of the community raising lots of red flags about the technical specs, budgets, language, etc.
    But there is no efficient way to get those warnings to the thousands of people who back these projects …

      1. Not to mention all those who buy into network marketing, thinking that somehow this product is going to make them rich…

        Look back and see how many multi-level-marketing schemes have collapsed, often with the higher levels getting some time behind bars as well.

    1. Well they contracted Fallon for the Kickstarter ad. Also if you guys knew the whole story behind it there would be at most 1-2 pledges. The printer was doomed from the start. In July of 2015 these guys were building their electronics using Waterloo co-ap student and whatever students they could get their hand on paying them $16 per hour.
      Knowing what pieces of **** the “founders” are I would not be surprised to see they still have around 900K in their accounts in addition to shipping. Contact Andrew Mccomb norton rose fullbrights. He’s their legal douchenoozle.

  2. Speaking of printers, you said this last year:
    “You should not pay attention to 3D printers on Kickstarter. Repeat after me: you should not give money to 3D printers on Kickstarter. Here’s a 3D printer on Kickstarter, promising a 3D printer for $74. I own several hats, and will eat one if this ships by next year.”

    This is about the 101 Hero, which is a pretty crappy printer (I got one), but it DID start shipping out in October like they promised, and I’ve got mine somewhere around January. I find it odd that we hadn’t any articles about it so far, and I’m waiting for your video of you having one less hat :-)

      1. Because the 101 Hero is a piece of junk, basically. Reliability is awful, there are recurring issues with the motors that effectively prevent printing. Even when it works it has layer shifting problems.

        I guess when you try to build a printer for $79, motors are the first thing you have to cheap out on. (A good set of steppers will cost you that by themselves)

        1. All electronics in an Ultimaker cost more combined then that price.

          So yes, motors are one of the things that do add on the price, and I’ve seen the steppers used in the 101Hero, I have a few of them, they are rubbish, there is like 15 degree of play on them. They are pretty much intended for single direction usage.

          Powersupply is the other thing that can be expensive. A quality, properly certified power supply cost money.

        2. The 101Hero was advertised as a $49/$74 toy, not as a full-fledged 3D printer. It’s not bad for what it is and you can see a lot of people happy with it on the unofficial Facebook group, despite its shortcomings. Also they were mostly on time for the release to the first backers, which is quite uncommon for a Kickstarter project.

      2. People who own and use 3D printers understand the maintenance cycle is part of the ownership costs. If you need some hot-end/bracket/bearing/control-board that can only be found from one place, than the probability of complete operational failure increases over time.

        We ran Rep-Rap style printers several times a week for a few years as we oil the equipment wear-surfaces prior to every use. When a Prusa i3 aluminium kit became available, it took about 4 days to transfer/recycle the electronics from a worn out unit. Note we do not use the factory recommended parts, but rather treat the machine similarly to our other CNC mills. Conceptually, the all-metal frames and case hardened bearings allow a heated build chamber, but this was in direct violation of the original Rep-Rep mission statement of attempting to use completely self-built parts.

        Thus, it teaches kids about why run-hour-counter based matenance is needed, why Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) data is important to document for other owners, and predicting the actual cost of a consumer product that will fail eventually if it can’t be repaired by the end user (includes driver software/firmware).

        If you don’t know what you are buying, than expect to learn the hard way about FDM… there is an awful lot of 3D printer junk parts around.

        1. The average 3D printer owner is unlikely to understand let alone want to actually engage in most of the otherwise very valid concepts you are talking about. (Most) people want 3D printers to be cars, not airplanes. Get in them and drive off, put gas in every so often and hope the warranty covers the rest of the problems. Not how most readers here view or approach things but that’s the basic expectation and expected usage pattern that the majority of buyers want and expect out of their machines.

          1. Some need for lubrication is OK – I have to do oil changes for the car too. And of course sometimes parts break in both types of machinery. But you are right, lengthy scheduled maintenance or checklists like for airplanes for a 3D printer would be difficult to accept.

  3. It was entertaining to follow the Tiko though. You could think of it as funding a business internship for some fresh out of college engineers. Not the worst cause in the world, you just can’t expect them to ship you a 3d printer at the end.

  4. Obviously the same can be said about Indiegogo.
    The basic problem with crowdfunding sites is you have a disconnect between value of the product and sales. Since you have customers that have already purchased the product on faith the focus for the manufacturer changes from a cost/value balance to one of maximizing profit. The result is either a failure to ship or if they have the morals to fulfill their obligation (vs taking the money and running) they end up shipping a monumentally crappy product out the door two years late.

    1. What’s a better method to ensure teams are able to ship what they promise though? How do you ensure enough funding dollars are available to actually, well, build things before a team has actually, well, built that thing?

      Obviously, looking at teams with prior success would give you a greater degree of confidence but that isn’t always realistic or possible.

      Nobody seems to value anything except making innovative and to the moon promises and I don’t think most teams genuinely want to deceive people about things but what are you suggesting would be an improvement to the current “state of the art” that crowdfunding offers?

      Also, don’t misunderstand me either, I am not saying that all crowdfunding is subjectively “bad” either. It’s just that there is still room for improvement. Even VC’s rarely hit homeruns, let alone singles.

      1. Changing the point that a product can be crowdfunded is one option. A prototype IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH to know what your manufacturing expenses will be. A final product must be the starting point for crowdfunding. Finalizing the production design to the point where you’ve got cost numbers broken down by quantity. That is the point you would consider bringing in VC. Why would crowdfunding be any different? The only difference in the requirements for the two funding sources is that with the VC you are going to bed with a shark that is just as likely to eat you as help you. Crowdfunding done right means you still own your company.

      2. There is nothing foolproof. But really, I suggest buying something that’s off-the-shelf. Tiko got noticed because of the price, but by the time they shipped, Malyan shipped a better machine for the regular backer price.

        You need to see that they’ve got a trial run of identical or near-identical functioning units, like a dozen working machines, not just the one they show. You need to see that the printer actually runs well and they don’t do the defocused filming from a distance. I was saddened that people were taken by Tiko on this point, there was no way to judge that the damn thing even makes a decent part.

        I think you need see that they have a team of experienced advisers in the fields of business, engineering and manufacturing.

        At some point they almost need an independent board that dispenses the money. I’m sure that exceeds what crowdfunding sites want to do.

        1. Tiko sent out dozens of updates, showing video of the “printer wall” buzzing away with continual test prints, diagrams and spreadsheets of problems and clever solutions, and they were following what looked like sound engineering practices. They seemed dedicated throughout the whole process, and were always providing updates. I do believe they had the best of intentions, and that they tried as hard as they could. Even with the beta issues, I still think I would have received an “OK” quality printer.

          However, I became concerned that they were investing so much capital setting up a factory capable of producing a million units a year, when the market for cheap 3D printers being mass-marketed is still unproven. And as I watched the first few shipments go, I was wondering if they’d still have enough money by the time it came to ship the last batches (my pledge was one of the last.)

          Their biggest mistake is they should have looked for traditional investors earlier in the process. They would still be on track had they brought in the kind of financial experience that a good investor can bring; someone to watch the costs, and to watch the future markets. But these guys are engineers, and they apparently thought they could engineer their way out of the business hole they were too busy to notice they were digging.

      3. Generally I’ll only crowdfund things that are (at best) in need of marketing funds or (at worst) need to ramp production on a proven design.

        Even that’s hard. You still have to expect failures in the end product sometimes. Maybe we’re dealing with funders having unreasonable expectations.

  5. The problem with layer shifting wasn’t the stepper. It was slop in the guides on the carriage, flexing of the rods connecting the carriages to the head, and backlash in the gearbox of the stepper. A bunch of users quickly figured out the modifications needed to fix all of those, and for those people, there’s no real layer shifting issue. The slop and flex was due to the fact that they were injection molded plastic, so the tolerances probably just weren’t there.

    The *bigger* problem is almost certainly the *extruder*, which is just stupidly unreliable – it’s basically just a gear that eats into filament, shoving it down the tube, but there’s no real tensioner to ensure that the filament’s coming in correctly. I’ve seen *so* many people bring up the layer shifting, but that’s correctable. (Correctable to a ‘precision 3D printer’ level, I dunno, but correctable to an ‘OK printer’ level, almost certainly).

    I’ve seen sooo many people constantly come out and say “the steppers are just too weak!” but realistically, deltas don’t need the torque a NEMA stepper can put out, especially if you can make the head super-lightweight (which is half the point of a delta in the first place). They also had an accelerometer on the head that they never actually used for basically anything except autolevel (which is probably because they needed to do a lot of filtering to pull out the signal from the noise, and my guess is that the microcontroller wasn’t going to be able to handle it). The accelerometer would’ve been able to help deal with backlash, and also deal with detecting cases where the motors ran into an obstacle.

    It’s *really* too bad that Tiko sold themselves as a “perfect printer that doesn’t need tinkering” because really, for $179, that’s just nuts. It would’ve been great just to get a kit to assemble and mess around with by itself. But of course, that wouldn’t’ve sold 17K kits.

  6. Tiko failed due to bad engineering AND bad business decisions. A lot of people said this right from the start.

    I’ve noticed a difference between engineers and business types. If 9/10 projects fail, engineers would say that is woefully bad. If 1/10 projects succeed, business people say that is pretty good.

    Naturally, business people take the bigger salary, and can blame the engineers for the failure.

    1. Engineering decision are deterministic. That’s why it’s engineering and not speculation. Business decision on the other hand are not deterministic in the slightest. There is no “right” answer in business, there’s just the one that happens to be a success and you can’t really know it up front.

      That’s the difference between business and engineering projects. Business failures which blame engineering are either engineering failures or fraud on behalf of the blame. And no most business people do not take a bigger salary.

  7. There were two Indiegogo projects by the same group a 3d printer and a 3d printer pen. Many people questioned each project BUT were not allowed to cross communicate their opinions. Eventually, after collecting a substantial amount of money from donors, BOTH projects ended. Indiegogo despite having many complaints about the group did NOTHING to either investigate nor refund money. Essentially the group perpetrated an international fraud and by law should have had charges brought against them. Indiegogo did not care because the only people who lost were the crowd funders.
    That is why I will NEVER contribute to ANY crowd funding ever again. There is a substantial amount of intentional scamming that will never be prosecuted because the line between business failure and con artistry is too fine. That and the crowd funding companies refuse to forward for prosecution due to ruining their image and thus their own source of income.

  8. >This is what you get when you innovate too much.

    No. Engineers delivering the innovation don’t make a project fall flat on its face due to *management* failures. This is what happens when you set your business goals (i.e. price point and stylish looks first) without any regard to actual engineering constraints, manufacturing capability and common sense. Oh and never bother to actually fully prototype it neither. Arrogance and ignorance shown by many startup founders from Kickstarter projects is frequently astounding – and when faced with technical criticism, it is often dismissed by cheerleaders as “hating” or “if everyone thought like you, we would be still living in caves!” – as if that somehow makes the critique less valid …

    E.g. the ridiculous cheap steppers – everyone was yelling at them that these won’t work right at the start when their Kickstarter was introduced. I believe this project has been discussed here at HAD too, it certainly has been at EEVBLOG and elsewhere. Of course, given the price point and the dimensions of the case (which were given), they didn’t have much choice – dooming the project right from start.

    With such project setup then the poor engineers have to focus on developing kludges and taping over cracks instead of improving the product, bending over backwards trying to deliver the impossible. Unfortunately the laws of physics cannot be beaten and crappy hardware cannot be really significantly improved by a post-release firmware update neither …

    1. “E.g. the ridiculous cheap steppers – everyone was yelling at them that these won’t work right at the start when their Kickstarter was introduced.”

      Really? So why do they work fine for the people who’ve modded the printer to correct for the carriage slop and backlash?

      The steppers were a limitation of the printer. They weren’t the reason it failed. In fact, if you would’ve had high torque steppers, the layer shifting probably would’ve been worse, because the carriage shifting would’ve been worse. Tiko failed because too much of the positioning system was plastic, and the extruder setup was totally unreliable. Not because of the steppers. NEMA steppers don’t automatically make a positioning system awesome.

        1. You can make a 3D printer with those steppers, and you can make one that’ll work pretty darn well. You can’t make one with slop in the rails and uncompensated backlash. And yet everyone has been pointing to the steppers as the design flaw, rather than the tolerance issues in the carriage and bend in the supporting arms.

          I’d still say the biggest mistake they made wasn’t the electronics, it wasn’t the plastic carriage parts, and it definitely wasn’t the steppers. It was not using a known extruder. Unreliable extrusion is the difference between a distorted print, which might be fixable (or at least, makes you believe you could print it) and a mess of silly string.

          1. This is the part I don’t think you’re understanding. The weak steppers aren’t a problem. They’re perfectly fine for what the printer is supposed to be, and they were a *good compromise* for a low cost printer. People blamed the steppers for layer shifting, but it was the inconsistent extrusion, backlash, and carriage slop that was causing it, not the steppers, and even if the steppers were fine the print still would’ve looked bad or distorted.

            It’s fine to *criticize* the steppers as a limitation of the printer, which is fine, just like you can criticize *any* printer’s design decisions.

            But they weren’t a problem. Changing the steppers would’ve just made the prints look distorted/wrong in different ways, and fixing the other problems makes changing the steppers unnecessary.

    2. >”Engineers delivering the innovation”

      I don’t think you understand what “innovation” means. It means taking old ideas and spinning them to look like new ideas. That’s the domain of design and marketing – not engineering. The engineers are merely tasked to put the thing together and make it work.

      The problem IS in the innovation, where clueless people go “Hey, what if we add X to it? Let’s make out of raspberries! Brilliant!” and disregard the engineers who complain that it won’t work.

    3. Exactly. This is nothing to do with “innovating too much” and everything to do with “trying to cut costs beyond what’s feasible” and “ordering parts for your entire final production run before you’ve tested a working prototype”.

  9. I own one of the 4000 tiko printers that actually shipped… (spoiler, it doesn’t really work well)
    I would do it all over again. At the most this could have been very innovative… as stated, I wont be surprised to see another unibody design.
    At the very least it was like helping kids get an education.

    I never “buy” anything on kickstarter if I’m not willing to give my money away.
    These kids deserved my 170$ just for coming up with the idea, they earned it by doing something about it.

    I hope the world judges them kindly.

    1. As stated above, the next step should be to open source the project…
      There is a really good chance that their design plus upgrades could result in a very good 3D printer.

      Tiko still has the injection mold, which is valuable. This means they could sell their plastic components for lets say $150 and have kids assemble the printers at home…

      Tiko could become a site to sell their unibody printer parts to the tinker’s

  10. I just wish I could get the unfinished parts of the failed projects I’ve backed, so I could finish them myself. That iBox Nano printer, that oscilloscope watch… maybe I could use one to diagnose the other, and the other to print a backlight diffuser for the one. ;)

    1. Uhhm, thats NOT a unibody with integrated rails. It quite clearly uses separate standard linear rails bolted onto the frame. And the frame itself appears to be built from loose parts.

  11. So for $200 I got two years of entertainment and long odds of a working printer. Which I got! No, it’s never gonna be what was promised, but it might be usable. Hell, odds are I can sell it 20 years from now as a collectible. Lighten up folks. Kickstarter ain’t for kids. My experience has been 50/50. M3D is still around. Other toys are about 50% too

    Most of you have paid more for less of an education. Just not the lesson you expected.

  12. The backers should be suing Kickstarter, not Tiko. Kickstarter has money, Tiko does not. Kickstarter should know full well that many of these 3D printer startups will almost certainly fail. But Kickstarter is more than happy to collect their percent of the money that people paid, and does not care in the least about what happens later on. Kickstarter is no better than a willing participant in this fraud. I will never do business with them.

  13. Kickstarter is not a store. It’s the backers responsibility to exercise due diligence and skepticism.

    But in the age of fake news and homeopathy and David Avocado, most people clearly don’t give a shit. And then they’re upset when they’re screwed.

  14. Yeah, having gone through Deltaprintr’s Kickstarter you would think I would have learned, I almost pulled the trigger on the Tiko, I instead went with the Thingybot. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thingybot/thingybot-delta-3d-printer-0/description
    Nothing super new, but what looked like a solid design by someone active in the 3d printing community. 3 units shipped (not me), promises of shipment were made to everyone else, and now the creator has gone dark. Never again.

  15. I received a Tiko3d from the first batch shipped to Canada. It was a sweet little unit. I tried to make things happen for a week with it and had a decent print or two but I promptly put it up for sale.

    The layer-shifting is not a hardware problem. I don’t know what this story persists. That picture in post is NOT what a print looks like when it missed steps ON A DELTA PRINTER. Thats what a print looks like when it misses steps on a cartesian style printer. The motors were fine. 99% of the people complaining about problems with this printer have never used a 3d printer before and can’t tell a screwdriver from a toothbrush, its just what happens when you try to sell a beta 3d printer to the masses. I will break down a few things I had noticed:

    1) The included filament would shatter itself in to little 1cm pieces when left overnight. Weird, random problem to have. The bowden tube filament path pre-extruder was much too sharp causing undue stress on an already poor quality filament. If you loaded the filament right before you were about to print, it worked fine. This issue manifested itself publicly as “filament jamming”. Only the filament wasnt jammed, it just needed a good push (very very hard actually!) with fresh filament while the head was hot and the extruder motor was going.

    2) Levelling: I saw zero signs of there being an accelorometer in the print head like some people are claiming. There was def one on the control board because that would activate the different modes of the printer by changing the printer orientation. As far as I could tell “autolevelling” was just the printer assuming the bed was where it was supposed to be and maybe some torque sensing of the motors. Manual levelling was just as bed. You could level the three points but as soon as it started, one side would be way up in the air.

    3) The umbilical: again the bowden tube POST-extruder was bent too sharply AND was bundled with other wires AND wrapped in a heavy material so it would push and pull the printhead around where it didnt want to go.

    4) OMG the software. Good try i guess? This is the actual cause of the layer shifting. You could push print and just watch the printhead move places it clearly wasn’t supposed to go.

    Like I wised up and sold it asap on their forum at a nice discount for the buyer. I then bought the ABSOLUTE cheapest 3d printer from an ad on gearbest and within a week I had a printer in my house, for LESS than i payed for my tiko, that WORKED. That was my first and only kickstarter I will ever back. And I backed them because what they were doing at least seemed possible.

    1. “2) Levelling: I saw zero signs of there being an accelorometer in the print head”

      There’s an accelerometer on a flex PCB near the head. They don’t actually use it, most likely because using an accelerometer takes a ton of experimentation.

      “4) OMG the software. Good try i guess? This is the actual cause of the layer shifting. You could push print and just watch the printhead move places it clearly wasn’t supposed to go.”

      Early on this was the case, but it’s been shown multiple times by multiple people that the dominant layer shifting was basically lack of lubrication, carriage slop, arm flex, and backlash.

      You’d get layer shifting from those problems because you’d put down filament where there wasn’t supposed to be any, and then when the head came around again, it’d bump into that, skip steps, and poof, layer shift. In other words, if the motors were higher torque, that portion of the print would look like crap, but you’d probably just plow through it.

      1. Again thats not what missed steps looks like on a delta printer. There was more than enough flex in the flimsy little arms to accommodate bumps in the printheads path. Missed steps in a delta printer causes a side to lift, NOT JUST SHIFT.

        I owned one of these. Almost every print I had that was larger than a thimble had random shifts in either an x or y direction NOT both as would be the case when a delta printer skips.

        1. Wait, what are you saying? Missed steps in *one motor* in a delta printer causes a side to lift, because you shift the entire axis of the built part along that axis.

          But that’s not what’s going on – the steppers are attempting to move in an X/Y plane, and are unable to because of torque. So *multiple* motors skip steps, and the part gets shifted on multiple delta axes, resulting in a linear shift in X/Y. Shifting things up in Z just moves all motors up equal amounts, so the shift occurs at the same spot in the next layer too.

          “There was more than enough flex in the flimsy little arms to accommodate bumps in the printheads path. ”

          There’s video evidence that you’re wrong on this. There have been several Tiko print videos where the head hits a blob, and it just stalls at that point, and then subsequent layers shift.

          “I owned one of these. Almost every print I had that was larger than a thimble had random shifts in either an x or y direction NOT both as would be the case when a delta printer skips.”

          I’m sure you did, but there have been a lot of people doing a lot of mods to the printer, and the evidence so far says that your assumptions are incorrect. Maybe you’re misremembering because your time with the printer was so bad? Your assumption about the accelerometer is totally incorrect, for instance, as you can very quickly find a picture of the accelerometer on the flex cable on the Tiko forums.

          Random shifts going crazy were probably from carriage slop.

  16. Has anyone seen the Morpheus 3D printer that uses LIPS technology (like SLA/DLP)??? They shipped the initial production quality version in 2015 and they have a cheaper version called the Delta on indiegogo. Looks pretty good. Any thoughts?

  17. Well, the irony is that a few users have modded the Tiko and seem to get acceptable results. Out of the box it seems like a disaster, but if the user mods are repeatable in delivering results, Tiko wasn’t half as bad as it seems.

    I backed Tiko and despite all of the talk here, think it could have succeeded. I became such a critic they forcibly refunded my money to stop me and several others posting in the KS comments. I think I could have sat on a beach and sub-contracted development to a professional team for $500,000 and would have done a lot better than Tiko did.

    I since went on to back another KS printer – the Cetus3D which is superb.

    http://forum.tiko3d.com/viewtopic.php?f=54&t=1083

  18. I am a Tiko backer, and no one wants them to pick themselves up by their boot straps and soldier-on, more than I do. I have no 3D printer, so I am a noob and was really hoping to break the ice into this realm with the Tiko. This article was, I think, extremely fair. There are a lot of angry backers out there – threatening law suits, and being pissed off that they sent $50 for shipping (like I did) on top of their $179 pledge, but I am not angry. I have been in manufacturing since I was 18 year old (now 50), and I’ve seen how the sausage is made – from R&D to production, shipping, installation and field repairs. I get it. It’s tough. I want my Tiko! I am willing to wait for it, and I hope – perhaps ignorantly – that they will get their act together and complete shipping their pledge machines… and then beyond, of course. I want to see this startup actually finish what they started. Law suit …. PLEASE. Crooks? No. Dumb? Hardly. Ignorant? Perhaps. All the arm-chair quarterbacks are so smart … but at the end of the day, I don’t have my Tiko (yet), and I withhold hope that it will one day show up on my porch.

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