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Printrbot Talk Forum • View topic - Printrbot Education - requirements are a bit much

Printrbot Education - requirements are a bit much

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Printrbot Education - requirements are a bit much

Postby AmazingSpanoMan » 2014-Jun-Fri-09-Jun

As an educator and maker I have been working diligently to spread the word about 3D printing and getting the technology into our schools.

I've been working with CAD since 1998 and 3D printing since around 2002 which was primarily ordering prints from 3D printing shops much like how shapeway is now. My first experience with the "consumer 3D printer" outside of the RepRaps and Prusas I have build myself was about two years ago. My students and I fundraised and purchased a Replicator 2 for my classroom. It wasn't for a particular class, just a club but after that purchase the school was able to purchase a second one for a summer program. I'm not saying that it was all roses, believe me there was quite a learning curve to get these printers to work correctly and a number of upgrades that needed to be installed, but everyone was very excited about having access to these printers. Anyway, We decided to go with Makerbot because of the great service they provided my school district and their willingness to work with educational facilities. I'm not even talking a discount here, that is besides the point. I always felt that they just understood how educational purchases worked and never had to explain what was needed.

Recently I tried giving Printrbot a go and purchased 2 wood simple kits. I built one myself to get familiar and some of my students worked on the other. I bought them for the experience and immediately fell in love with the open source, customizability and endless tweaking to get the best possible print on a $350 printer. Needless to say, I was hooked and when the new metal simple was announced I had to be the first person to purchase the red limited edition. The price point and quality of these printers mixed with the ability for students to really learn and understand how 3D printing works was an A+ in my book, especially when the new replicators were slowly creeping toward not accessible due the high price and state enforced purchase thresholds and other regulations.

Here is my concern...

I purchased the two kits through our PTO but that was for my club not an official class and it was all fundraised money that was used for the purchase. That is all fine an dandy but now I am writing a curriculum for an official class that will be included in the budget for purchasing product and purchases can't go through the PTO since they don't have access to the official funds provided. These funds can only be used via a purchase order there is absolutely no other way.

Printrbot is very school friendly that isn't what is question here. I'm not doubting the vision of printrbot concerning education which has been reiterated to me a number of times by Brook in some of our exchanges on Google+. My concern is whether or not Printrbot is hurting their possible education business as well as the accessibility of the printers to schools. Many schools have to use purchase orders to buy product which printrbot is not going to do unless 10+ printers are being ordered. That means that if I want to do a purchase order to buy kits for the class next year I would have to get a quote for $3500+ for the simple kit. Unfortunately this puts me over the purchase threshold of $1999.99 which means I wouldn't be able to purchase 10 kits which then means I wouldn't be able to use a purchase order. It is a horrible cycle and it is going to prevent me from using printrbot for parts and kits. I don't even care about the discount, the printers are price great as is.

I personally feel that the education business model being portrayed on printrbot's website is a bit much and the requirements are out of the scope of many school's ability to purchase due to purchase and financial restrictions. I understand that Printrbot is still a small business and, as is said on the website, they don't have the manpower but I think something needs to be done to make an effort to accommodate the purchasing restrictions in education otherwise a lot of business and opportunity is going to be lost. Not every school has the ability to use a credit card for purchases and not every school can afford to purchase 10+ printers in order to gain access to the use of a purchase order.

It really is a shame, I still love printrbot and will continue to purchase from them for myself but it doesn't look like I'll be able to incorporate their printers anywhere else in my schools. What is really worrisome is how easy it would be for printrbot to get on our approved vendors list and how easy it is to work with purchase orders with no additional cost.

4 Steps:

1. Fill out a form to gain a NJ business ID (this costs nothing) or if they already have a national ID that's all they need
2. Provide this number to our secretary to get board approved and put on our vendors list
3. The school creates a PO which is approved by many administrators and finally goes to the Business Admin to ensure we have the funds and they are put aside for the order. The PO is mailed (or emailed) to Printrbot where they then fulfill the order.
4. Once product is received the PO is released and a check is cut to pay for the product. It is guaranteed not to bounce since the funds had to be there to begin with for the PO to be approved.

It takes all of 20 - 30 min tops on printrbot's side to do this (Not counting the time for packing and shipping, this is something they would have to do with any purchase). I just can't see not having enough man power to at least do that especially if it means building a relationship with an educational institute which will then trickle to other schools and districts wanting in on the product as well.

I know if Brook is reading this right now he is probably shaking his head because this is something that has been brought up a number of times but I am very passionate about getting printrbots in my schools and others and really hope that a change can be made to benefit everyone who wants access to this technology and used it to enhance their curriculum and learning.

I guess my objective here are the following:

- To find out if anyone else has these restrictions making purchases hard in their school
- To find out if there is anyone else who shares my feelings
- Who else is trying to get printrbots in there schools and how they plan on going on about it.


** Please don't take this as a rant or complaint. I'm a very big fan and supporter of Printrbot, makers and 3D printing in general. Printrbot and the support guys have been very good to me and my students. I just don't want to see the school district purchase another $2000 Replicator 2 where they can get 6 or 7 printer bots for the same price.***

I would be more than happy to provide additional information to Brook or anyone at Printrbot free of charge if it means they have a better understanding of how school purchases work. Especially if it is something that is going to be advertised on the site.

Side note: I work in K-12 Universities and Colleges may have a different purchasing system.
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Printrbot Education - requirements are a bit much

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Re: Printrbot Education - requirements are a bit much

Postby Mach-Chris » 2014-Jun-Fri-09-Jun

I wish that I had a teacher like you when I was attending H.S.

Don't get me wrong, I had a lot of educators that were supportive and understanding. They absolutely had a play in steering me to where I am today.
But I'm not to sure about how many of them actually put a lot of time and effort into making sure their students stood to gain from every possible benefit and made it a personal objective to facilitate things like this.

Great job!
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Re: Printrbot Education - requirements are a bit much

Postby AmazingSpanoMan » 2014-Jun-Fri-09-Jun

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Re: Printrbot Education - requirements are a bit much

Postby Mach-Chris » 2014-Jun-Fri-10-Jun

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Re: Printrbot Education - requirements are a bit much

Postby redwood » 2014-Jun-Fri-12-Jun

They probably aren't too well versed in that dept, learning as they go. Maybe find out who is in charge of this at PB and see if you could help with the eduction purchase model. Brook might not be the guy to talk to. He probably just wants to build/design stuff and not worry about admin stuff.

Maybe they were following the Adafruit and Sparkfun model. They also have minimums of 10 on their site for discounted products.
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Re: Printrbot Education - requirements are a bit much

Postby AmazingSpanoMan » 2014-Jun-Fri-12-Jun

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Re: Printrbot Education - requirements are a bit much

Postby Corey Warren » 2014-Jun-Fri-13-Jun

I really hope that Brook/Printrbot finds a way to accommodate your needs. I feel that 3D Printing is still in its infancy and it will be the next generation of young people that take it to it's next level. Getting young people excited about this technology now will only help prepare them for the future. Personally, I'm just bursting with excitement about 3D Printing. I can't imagine what it would be like to be a young kid with this technology in my hands.

The ability to go from concept, to design, to manufacturing, to testing, to redesign, re-manufacture, retest, over and over again all at your own desk quickly and cheaply just blows my mind. I would love it if I could get paid to just go from school to school showing young people this incredible technology and getting them excited about it as much as I am.

I thank you, AmazingSpanoMan, and am quite envious of all of your efforts in educating our young people.
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Printrbot Education - requirements are a bit much

Postby David@Printrbot » 2014-Jun-Mon-13-Jun

I understand your frustration, but the main issue is that every school is a "one-off" in how they process POs. So it ends up being labor intensive (3 people have to manually move that PO process from quote, ship, invoice) and therefore it's not very cost effective for us.

We just made the threshold at 10 Printrbots, consistent with the minimum order quantity for distributor orders.

I realize that's not the response you were hoping for, but it's the reality of the situation on our end.

Sorry :(
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Re: Printrbot Education - requirements are a bit much

Postby AmazingSpanoMan » 2014-Jun-Mon-15-Jun

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Re: Printrbot Education - requirements are a bit much

Postby David@Printrbot » 2014-Jun-Mon-15-Jun

Maybe try contacting Amazon.com, Maker Shed, or MCM for purchase orders? Not sure if they do, but it's worth investigating.
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Re: Printrbot Education - requirements are a bit much

Postby Mooselake » 2014-Jun-Tue-09-Jun

Google "amazon corporate account". From a quick scan it looks like you'll need to establish a credit line, and then will be allowed to submit purchase orders. They have a couple options that I didn't dig into.

WIth a little googling I found lots of info on how schools can order from Amazon with purchase orders. I know nothing about school purchasing, but it seems your PO only situation is pretty common. It may be that someone's already established an Amazon account for your school.

Also check out smile.amazon.com. It may be that your school qualifies for Amazon's donation program, and you might even be able to work it into a fundraiser. I work for an ambulance service; we found about the smile program when one of our customers started specifying us for donations. I'm a functionally 3 legged moose these days, stuck behind a desk and doing desky stuff like ordering. Smile will even let you buy stuff for your own organization and still get the credit, although I use a personal account that's already signed up for Amazon Prime.

I have nothing to do with Amazon, other than spending way too much money there. Don't know how Maker Shed handles POs, or what MCM (Mode Creation Munich?) is, but Google (or one of it's competitors) is your weapon of choice.

Good Luck
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Printrbot Education - requirements are a bit much

Postby David@Printrbot » 2014-Jun-Tue-11-Jun

@SpanoMan - MCM Electronics and our other distributors might be able to help with POs. I suggest contacting the distributors near you as a starting point.

http://printrbot.com/distributors/autho ... tributors/
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Re: Printrbot Education - requirements are a bit much

Postby AmazingSpanoMan » 2014-Jun-Tue-19-Jun

I'll check out the other distributors. It really is a shame though. I've already looked at a number of the other distributers on that link and many only hold a couple things that are available on your site so I'm still rather limited on what I can purchase. I guess something is better than nothing.
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Re: Printrbot Education - requirements are a bit much

Postby AmazingSpanoMan » 2014-Jun-Tue-19-Jun

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