Hello OpenBeam community! We have some very exciting news for all of you.
As part of our ongoing supply chain management issues, we accelerated our plans to shut down our current fulfillment arrangements at our extrusion supplier and move to 100% amazon fulfillment. Over the last few months, we had been slowly experimenting with Amazon Fulfillment. Amazon's pricing structure and the "ins and outs" of selling on Amazon takes some getting used to, but we now feel that we are relatively comfortable with how their pricing model works and know how to adjust accordingly (the subject of another blog post).
As a result of this, we have shut down the OpenBeam web store and relaunched our web store at store.OpenBeamUSA.com. As of tonight, I have personally packed the last orders that had been received on the OpenBeam Webstore and these will go out via Fedex tomorrow. I will also be contacting some of our last buyers and issuing shipping refunds for overcharged shipping fees.
While the new web store is still a work in progress (mostly, we need to retake pictures to conform to Amazon's strict quality standards on images) - we are open for business, and you will be able to purchase from there and take advantage of Amazon Fulfillment for low shipping charges. Because we are using Amazon Fulfillment, Amazon Prime household benefits will also apply. We will relaunch the main website, www.OpenBeamUSA.com, as a product showcase and a link to our currently less-than-ideal documentation. We have partnered up with Adafruit and we will be using the Adafruit Learning System for hosting our tutorials. We believe that this will be a major benefit to everyone.
Previously under our web store's shipping pricing model, even small orders would incur a minimum of about $20.00 or so. This is because we had to pad the freight charges to offset the high cost of labor for kitting and the cost of the packaging. (Previous reviewers have noted that the OpenBeam shipping tube is pretty much indestructible, but there's a cost associated with that indestructible toughness). The web store's shipping calculator was also not very smart and aways assumed a 44" shipping tube, and as such this is very unfair to people buying just brackets and small accessories. Majority of our early purchasers purchased extrusions along with a their brackets, so this wasn't a problem, but now that the system is maturing, people are finding that they need brackets individually more and more. Fulfillment by Amazon will help lower the costs of shipping for small items, and again, Prime households will really benefit from this change.
Simultaneously with making the push to Amazon fulfillment, we have been working hard at building our logistics capabilities, both for import and export. We have filed the necessary paperwork and posted a $50,000 bond with US Customs - and at this moment, OpenBeamUSA is now a licensed importer. We have been working with an excellent logistics company so that we can import and export via Ocean LTL (less than container load) shipment, also known as "Consolidated Cargo". Finally, we have been building good working relationships with suppliers in China for 3D printer hardware.
As a result of all this hard work, we are pleased to be expanding our 3D Printer component offering. Over the next two weeks, we will start loading inventory into Amazon's supply chain. You will find high quality 3D printer components, such as LM8UU and SC8UU bearings, linear bearing rods, linear recirculating ball bearing rails, stepper motors, and timing belt pulleys, timing belts and other mechanical goodies. We will also be working with original creator of 3D printer electronics to stock our web store with. (I have a very strong ethical objection about selling clones to undercut the original authors in their geographic locations - so we will only be buying from the original authors to stock our web store).
We have been frustrated by the lack of access to good quality hardware for the 3D printer community. Even worse, the RepRap forums and IRC channels are often full of people who think they know more than they do. We see so many people recommend to others subpar components for linear motion (such as using rough as a file drill rods, or not properly hardened stainless steel shaft for LM8UUs), only then to turn around to propagate these myths and falsehoods about how commercial grade components are "not worth it". I have been supplying components to fellow 3D printer developers here in Seattle (such as Johann Rocholl of the Rostock / Kossel fame, Matt Wilson of the Metrix Brainwave, Matt Westervelt of Metrix Create: Space, etc) for the past few months. OpenBeamUSA stands behind the quality of these components we import - every component we list for sale is one that we've either personally used or are currently using in our own, personal R&D machines. We have worked hard to bring in good quality components at reasonable price and partnering up with Amazon.com so that they can be delivered to our users in a cost effective manner. We look forward to seeing what people will build with with these components!