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Open Source Success

Who is Printrbot Inc.? 

Printrbot Inc. provides affordable 3D printers to makers, DIYers, and educators throughout the world. From their humble beginnings as a 2011 Kickstarter, Printrbot has met success through crowd-funding in the global maker-culture. Within just a couple of years, these American makers have sold thousands of 3D printers—as either pre-assembled units or DIY kits—and their products were named "Best Value" by MAKE Magazine's 2014 Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing.

Helping your customers help you.

But no matter your level of success, when you're selling complicated products that customers may have to assemble themselves—you have to provide excellent instructions. Dave Hays, Printrbot's Manager of Customer Support and Community, says, "Over the last few years, we've sold a lot of 3D Printer Kits, and every kit needs instructions. Those instructions need to be fairly detailed. We're using customer-facing Dozuki guides pretty much every time we release a product." 

The Printrbot Simple Kit

The Printrbot Simple Kit

How are customers consuming Printrbot's product guides? Online. Hays explains, "When we ship a product to a customer, we have an informational sheet that also goes out. It provides them a link to the Dozuki build guide. We have Dozuki guides for unboxing, getting your software set up, and running your first print off." 

Despite great instructions, Printrbot's 3D printer assembly kits—like the Printrbot Play Kit and the Printrbot Simple Kit—aren't for the faint of heart. Non-technically minded customers favor pre-assembled units. But even those need some heavy-duty product support when it comes time for modifications or upgrades.

"As we are seeing more assembled products go out, we still have a need for documentation that is customer-facing." Hays continues, "The reason—we are selling upgrades. If you buy an assembled printer, there are opportunities to go with a larger build. If you want to use a larger variety of filler materials, you need to change out some components. So even with the assembled units, those users are still doing to use our Dozuki guides."  

Always growing, always improving. 

Dozuki is helping Printrbot with more than just customer service, though. Hays explains that with these open-sourced documents, he is able to gather feedback, suggestions, and comments on products from both employees and customers.

"Dozuki's feedback features are definitely useful. A lot of times we release an upgrade and we'll find improvements to make to it. The ability to rearrange steps and insert steps—that is pretty valuable to us. Because inevitably, after we release a product, things can change. And as you're looking through some of those comments, you may come across something critical."

Overall, no matter which product you purchase from Printrbot you'll be ready to assemble, modify, and upgrade. Hays says, "Dozuki is our main source of documentation."