Unsure about paying full price for an Altmill when it is not shipping until September

Why is Sienci Labs charging full price up front when shipping is not expected for another four months? I am having a real hard time accepting this when the rest of the world would take a deposit and then charge the balance when the machine ships. I have seen too many well established companies closing their doors and any monies paid by customers were lost.
A purchasing decision would be much easier if the only thing being charged when ordering was a deposit.
My reason for posting this comment is to hopefully let the powers to be know what is currently holding up my ordering decision.

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This is a bit off-putting for me as well, and I haven’t committed to a purchase for that reason. Basically, small companies like to use their customer’s money to help finance the production. I see the reasons (multiple), but if I’d wanted to invest in the business I would have bought stock in it.

I’m also concerned that I haven’t received an answer to my post here in over 15 days.

I’m sensitive to this new equipment, because I almost bought into the C3D 5 Pro, and would have been part of a series of customer problems with that new machine.

It concerns me that all that we know about the AltMill is based on one prototype. I’m concerned, but I’m not scared off. The AltMill seems to be the right combination of size, mechanics and features, but I’ll let others provide the beta testing for the new machine.

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I am glad I am not the only one that thinks this is strange. I am less concerned about only hearing about one prototype (and from arguably biased sources) since I would expect to hear about the production machines as soon as they ship which would give me a chance to cancel the order if I don’t like what I hear. I agree that buying early comes with risks.

@Jens I’m not going to get into a discussion of the Sienci business model, but I do wonder where you got the “another four months” shipping date. The most recent blog post that I have seen said this

“This means that the first 50 AltMill customers should prepare to receive their machines in June, although we are working as hard as possible to start shipping in May.”

Do you have more recent information? If so, can you please post a link to it?

Based on the order page at Order Status Tracking | Sienci Labs, if I was to place an order today, the estimated shipping date is October (if all goes to plan)

@Jens Understood, tks. You threw me off when you said that shipping is not expected for another four months. Clearly, that is not the case for the first 50 units.

Hi @Jens, it’s just something that we’ve always done. All your points are valid on wait time and having a deposit option, this is why we tend to aim to keep wait times low but right now demand for the AltMill is quite high which is making wait times extra long.

Sometimes we also get asked about offering payment plans and we also don’t tend to do those for the same reason which is that we don’t want to put people in a situation where they’re debted to us for a CNC they’ve bought. Since we started Sienci we’ve aimed to give people affordable machines and not try to deceive people into thinking we’re selling something that we’re not or use other methods to make the machine seem cheaper. This means that people can make sure they have the money on hand before buying and be confident in their decision, otherwise if they change their mind or choose another CNC that’s fine too.

Feel free to look at our most recent new development we just completed shipping which was our SuperLongBoard. Ordering opened in December, we aimed to start shipping sometime in March, and the first board went out the door the last week of March with the remaining distributed by mid-April. People who felt it was worth it bought in at the start, and those that chose to wait will be getting theirs once our next batch arrives. People know we have a good track record, which is also why the line for the AltMill is currently all the way till October

Let me know if you have any other thoughts :+1:

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Tex regarding your other comment Scott's First Experience Using the AltMill CNC Machine: Insights and Discoveries at Sienci Labs - #2 by CrookedWoodTex

Sometimes comments get missed between Facebook, Forum, YouTube, Instagram, etc. I know sometimes a lack of response can feel like we’re trying to hide something, but in those cases I’d recommend you send us in an email or phone call since those are our most prioritized avenues and will basically guarantee an answer, plus you can always share our response back here on the forum if you feel like others would benefit.

To answer your question though, yes all of the videos posted thus far have been from 3 iterations on prototype machines that have lived in our back shop. This isn’t unlike what we’ve done in the past, or that other companies have done in the past - in fact we’re very proud to say that everything you see in the videos is truly happening and not rendered or pretending. Sometimes we’re a victim of our own transparency because we don’t pretend like we’re doing more than we are, but we certainly are very careful to only show features and functionality that we feel confident in. I think where you stand makes sense though, if you’ve been burned already it can seem risky to go again.

One thing I also want to note is that the first 50 machines were purchased by people who’ve agreed to help smooth out any remaining sharp edges with the AltMill that we haven’t caught yet in our months of testing. We don’t tend to dive so deep into production that machines shipped in October will be the same as those shipped in the next month - we always do our best to continue improving our products as they roll out to ensure they’re performing their best. It’s likely by the time others receive their AltMills, it’ll look even better than what you’ve seen in the videos :slight_smile:

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Sorry for not being clearer.

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Thanks for chiming in. Your comments are appreciated.
As far as payment plans - I don’t blame you for not offering them. You are in the business of building machines, not financing them. That’s why God created banks and credit cards :slight_smile:

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Charging full price when you submit your order is very common in the hobby CNC industry.
Onefinity took $8,500 Cdn of my money for an Elite Foreman (full price) 13 weeks before they shipped it.
PwnCNC took $1,200 US of my money for a spindle kit (full price) on Mar. 18. PwnCNC has not received the spindle from China to begin programming the VFD and spindle. They expect to ship sometime after May 24. That will be over 9 weeks.
There is more demand than supply in the industry so you get to play by the supplier’s rules.

Check out what Chris said below. When I ordered my MK2, I was one of the first to do so. It still took 6 months before I got it. This is not representative of your situation but can still take time to get the parts, do any pre-assembly, inspect, box and ship. Each order is done in small batches to insure each CNC is top notch and will do what it is suppose to do before you get it.
Have faith and read up on your new machine prior to receiving it so you will be ready to assemble and run.

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I am coming from a few years experience now in the hobby CNC area, having purchased a Onefinity CNC early on and modifying it steadily since then.

My experience in all that time, with hundreds of purchases big and small from numerous companies, will not allow me to agree with your sweeping generalization… “when the rest of the world would take a deposit and then charge the balance when the machine ships.” It is simply not true, but I imagine it was shared in order to highlight your frustration. It is always good to provide feedback to a company.

I joined this forum a while ago, specifically because the Altmill caught my attention. After that the team at Sienci Labs kept my attention with their refreshingly thorough, honest, transparent, and frequent updates. It gives me confidence that were they to close their business, it would have to be due to an unexpected and catastrophic occurrence - this could happen, but my experience has me believing it won’t. Perhaps others in the forum can add the names of hobby CNC companies that allow for deposits or deferred payments, as it may help others identify options other than Sienci Labs machines.

Relatively small companies like this, in my opinion need the money upfront (as others below have stated), in order to exist in the first place, but more importantly to me to keep innovating and providing more choice in this CNC hobby space. So for me, I am happy to invest in this company, but my reward will be a great machine.

I also understand people’s apprehension about new products - I was a fairly early adopter of the Onefinity Woodworker. I did my due diligence however… read the documented specs, watched what was available online, and used my own experience and understanding of machinery to help make the decision. After spending some time doing this for the Altmill I would not hesitate to make the purchase - I would need to wait to save the funds first. Many potential buyers uncomfortable with the risk usually are not early adopters, which is a sound decision for them.

I personally am very excited to see some of these CNCs in the hands of early buyers. I have become quite fond of YT videos showing actual machining, and unsolicited/compensated user feedback and reviews.

Regards,

Tom

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@TMToronto Welcome to the group, Tom. I must say that your first post is a hell of an introduction. :grinning:

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I guess it was a sweeping generalization but I can only recall a single instance where product I purchased was fully charged before shipping (it was for a fraction of the amount of a new Altmill). It is however common that a special order is charged for up front.
Business failures are unfortunately not unusual at all, even with companies that have been in business for many many years and the fallout is unfortunately always the same - the retail customer comes after all creditors (and wages) have been paid and generally that means that no money is refunded. It doesn’t matter if it is a small company or a national/international company.
It is tempting to use the customers funds to finance things - it’s a lot cheaper and there are no pesky banks to deal with but I guess I have just seen one too many instances of business failure to be comfortable with the risk. That is in no way a reflection on Sienci but only a statement of my personal feelings. I would be less concerned if the order time was 3-6 weeks but if I was to order now it would likely be the end of October before I would see the mill.
At this point I am hoping that once the Altmill has been around for a while and production has ramped up, delivery times will improve sufficiently for me to be comfortable with paying up front.

I completely understand your hesitation and respect your decision.

While I have no knowledge, or interest (yet?), in setting up and running a business, I imagine that banks are and have been fully involved in financing Sienci Labs and similar relatively new/small businesses. I can’t imagine the amount of money that they must have spent (and others like Onefinity) in time and materials, designing, prototyping, paying for raw aluminum stock and then custom aluminum extrusion dies (the MOQs must be large and expensive), procuring other linear motion associated hardware and electronics, etc… - and my hope is selling these machines, even with the long wait times, allows them to keep production going. Who knows, some of them may even be allowing themselves a salary …maybe …usually… or sometimes :smile: I remain thankful they are taking the risks.

Looks like we are both holding off, albeit for differing reasons, but also looking forward to those first reviews and seeing those project sending chips flying! :smiley: