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Signs suggest that 101Hero, the $49 3D printer, was too good to be true

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Questions mount on both delivery and production issues, with little communication from 101Hero itself.

When 101Hero debuted its namesake 3D printer on Kickstarter last May, the thought of a functional printer for as little as $49 seemed like a great deal. But we questioned if it was just too good to be true. Those questions now seem prescient.

Multiple reports — both to Digital Trends directly and the company’s Kickstarter page — indicate that some early backers have not received their printer yet. In some cases, printer shipments are now as much as three months past their original promised ship date, with little if any communication from 101Hero itself on the cause.

More: The 5 biggest Indiegogo and Kickstarter failures

From what we can tell, backers as early as #412 are still waiting for a printers — however in some cases later backers have received printers, or at least a shipment notification. It is not clear what the reasons are for why some early backers are still waiting, as the last Kickstarter update on December 23 only said that the company would try “to do better and faster.”

“Apparently it is too good to be true,” Digital Trends reader Jeremy Wells wrote to us. “I backed it at the $79 level (which came out to a $104 charge to my card), but I haven’t gotten a printer, and I can’t get any feedback from the creator.”

While Wells and others have not yet received a printer, even some backers who have received theirs are still experiencing problems. There appears to be a recurring hardware problem with the motors, which effectively prevents printing. With the lack of communication on 101Hero’s end, some have been forced to attempt to source replacement parts outside of official channels in an attempt to get the printer to work properly.

Digital Trends has tried multiple times over the past two weeks to get answers. Emails dated January 11 and again on January 16 and addressed to 101Hero’s official press contact were never answered (101Hero provides no phone number to contact the company directly that we were able to source). Digital Trends sent out a third email Friday, and will update this story if we receive any response.

If this all sounds vaguely familiar to you, that’s because a similar issue happened with another low-cost Kickstarter-funded 3D printer called Peachy Printer. In one of the most bizarre failures in crowdfunding history, the project finally folded in May 2016 (oddly enough, the same month as 101Hero launched) after it was disclosed a founding partner allegedly embezzled more than CA$300,000 of pledged funds.

In fairness to 101Hero, malfeasance does not look like the issue here, and some printers have made it into the hands of backers. Still, with mounting reports of communications issues with its backers, we can only speculate at this point as to why 101Hero is failing to meet its delivery targets.

After Peachy Printer, that’s not a position many backers want to be in.

Are you a 101Hero backer? We’d like to talk to you and hear your stories and issues. Leave us a comment here, or tweet me directly @edoswald. We’ll continue to follow this story as it develops.