Crowd Funding

NexD1 Kickstarter suspended amidst controversy

Kickstarter have suspended Next Dynamics’ 3D printer crowdfunding project. Their machine, the NexD1, was garnering significant interest for its bold claims when first launched. The German team claiming that the printer could use multi-materials and print circuit boards. However it seems the printer really was too good to be true. Next Dynamics, the creators, posted a final update last night with another attempt to “alleviate concerns“. Yet it seems the ‘proofs’ provided may have been faked.

We’ve been eagerly following this campaign with the hope that the 3D printer did somehow live up to the hype. We even attempted to visit the team for their live demonstration in London earlier this week, however Next Dynamics made no such attempt to attend. Following this, we raised red flags even after speaking to one of the Directors Alexander Straub, who maintained the demo would be rescheduled. Now, following even more investigation from the community, Kickstarter have taken action.

The suspended NexD1 project. Screenshot via Kickstarter.
The suspended NexD1 project. Screenshot via Kickstarter.

Last update

Next Dynamics posted an update last night which contained a video supposedly showcasing the 3D printing of an unusually shaped egg. Designed by ksims on Shapeways and reportedly being printed by the NexD1 is only available to purchase from Shapeways. Design files are not available publicly and according to Simon Huwyler, two orders for the egg were received in recent weeks which would correlate with those being used by Next Dynamics.

A comment from superbacker Massimiliano Merzi who has been very active in the comment threads on NexD1s page. Screenshot via Kickstarter.
A comment from superbacker Massimiliano Merzi who has been very active in the comment threads on NexD1s page. Screenshot via Kickstarter.

There’s more, it seems that the grainy proof video that Next Dynamics posted to appease the scepticism was a fake. Since the video uploaded to YouTube by Next Dynamics shows the NexD1 printing overhangs without any supports, which would simply not be possible. Furthermore, it has been speculated that the footage was actually filmed in reverse. Rather than adding materials, backers are claiming the ‘printer’ sliced the already formed egg and then Next Dynamics reversed the recording. Producing a video that seemed as if the object was being formed layer-by-layer.

Image showing the top of the egg being printed without any internal supports. Image via Kickstarter user Synvox.
Image showing the top of the egg being printed without any internal supports. Image via Kickstarter user Synvox.

About Kickstarter’s suspension policy

Suspension of a Kickstarter project is irreversible and there are a number of reasons listed on their website to why a project may be suspended.

These include:

  • Misrepresentation or failure to disclose relevant facts about the project or its creator.
  • The creator is presenting someone else’s work as their own.
  • The creator is offering purchased items, claiming to have made them.
  • The creator is repackaging a previously-created product, without adding anything new or aiming to iterate on the idea in any way.

It seems Kickstarter could cite any one of these rules particularly misrepresentation for Next Dynamics continual lack of transparency. Other strange behaviour from the team includes cancelling a livestream, rescheduling it, and then cancelling it again. Additionally, director Alexander Straub commented on the project in its infancy as if he was not connected with the project. Yet it was later revealed that he was a director of the German company.

Alexander Straub's early comment. Screenshot via Kickstarter.
Alexander Straub’s early comment. Screenshot via Kickstarter.

Win for Crowdfunding and Maker community

In a message sent by Kickstarter’s Integrity Team to the NexD1 backers, they explained the decision,

We aim to protect that generosity and trust by requiring a high degree of transparency, and clarity from creators. It’s important that you as a backer have a clear sense of the current state of development of any project you support.
The NexD1 team are welcome to re-submit their idea to Kickstarter for review at any time with this in mind.

The outcome of this project is disappointing, however it is a victory for crowdfunding in general as it negates criticism that Kickstarter projects aren’t to be trusted. By stepping in, Kickstarter have supported the community and encouraged the use of crowdfunding for truly innovative projects. The users who helped unearth Next Dynamic’s falsehoods should be commended for their efforts and cynicism.

One backer even created his own 3D printed design encompassing the story of the NexD1 and it’s proof of life. Referencing the egg controversy, imgur user rkagerer, created a 3D printed NexD1 emerging from an egg.

The NexD1 3D print. Photo via rkagerer on imgur
The NexD1 3D print. Photo via rkagerer on imgur

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Featured image shows Next Dynamics’ NexD1 3D printer. Image via Kickstarter. 

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