We are still a relatively young company, but wallPen has already experienced quite a lot... Grab a coffee and enjoy our adventurous log.
The basic idea
For more than 25 years Andreas Schmidt has been working in the field of training, presentation and sales of 3D CAM/CAM software, mainly for customers in the German automotive, aerospace and mechanical engineering industries. More by chance he finds various Chinese wall printers on the platform "Alibaba" and is absolutely enthusiastic about the idea! He now plans to import such devices and distribute them at least in Europe under his own label.
Let's get down to business
With high hopes and expectations, a first printer is ordered in China for $18,000. The supplier seems serious and is very courteous and friendly.
The Chinese printer finally arrives, but bursts into flames on the very first attempt to print: The print head moves up briefly, then moves down, and the control cabinet burns with an open flame. From that day on, the Chinese seller does not respond to calls or emails, and besides all the time and high hopes, of course, all the money is lost. Phew, within seconds all that's left of the supposed "wall printer" is a mountain of very expensive junk from the Far East! And it was by no means the cheapest printer you can buy there! So the dreams have literally "gone up in smoke" for the time being.
Not giving up
"You can have bad luck, but you don't give up right away," he tells himself and is determined to try again. After all, he has since learned that a wall printer is definitely a complex and elaborate technical device if it is to function reliably and safely for a long time. Therefore, after the first bad investment, the very cheap devices, which are often offered for less than 5,000 dollars, are not an option at all. So another one of the expensive printers is ordered from one of the many Chinese suppliers for another 18,000 dollars. Here, too, the saleswoman is extremely friendly, helpful and obliging.
A second try
The second printer arrives, and it even comes with a laptop. Wow! This several years old beauty with its stolen Chinese Windows and lots of pirated copies of every software imaginable shows heavy signs of use, but at least the printer prints - at least to some extent. "Printing" here means that it "throws" ink at the wall, but the problems are unfortunately so severe that not a single print is paid for by customers over the coming weeks. The thing just doesn't work reliably: Ink failures, sensor errors, graphics problems, transmission interruptions, mechanical failures, clogged nozzles, software crashes, and to top it all off, only very slow and questionable help in terrible English. And worst of all: Lots of disappointed and frustrated customers and NO income. So even more time and much more money lost. Besides all the endless frustration, almost $40,000 has now ultimately gone down the drain for these two China printers!
"I'll build it myself!"
"It has to work," he says to himself. So the first sketches, ideas and designs for "the perfect wall printer" emerge. The search for high-quality components and reliable suppliers begins. Printing technology and motors also take on more and more concrete form. The many years of experience in planning and design naturally benefit the project greatly.
"Made in Germany"
Most of the suppliers have been found. Even laser technology, print heads and ink are sourced only from leading companies in the EU. A first employee develops an initial software for the printer, which, however, does not yet lead to success.
Solutions for all upcoming difficulties have been found in the last months - many of them new and unexpected. wallPen applies for numerous national and international patents with the help of a leading German patent attorney.
Setback followed by a stroke of luck
The Southeast European programmer ended months of work by going on Easter vacation and not returning to Germany without notice. There was a good reason for this: his program simply did not work. After an initial shock, it turned into a stroke of luck: programmer Ramazan Köprülü got in touch and became wallPen's first "serious" employee, eventually developing software that delivers high-quality printing results. To this day, his code is the backbone of wallPen.
No ink flow
The first test print begins. The printer runs and moves across the surface - but no ink flows. In search of a solution to the problem, Jochen joins the team. He turns the right screw and helps us achieve the first successful print.
The first successful wall print decorated our flip-chart tab with a knight in black and white. The printer is working as it should! We are in a cautious first euphoria.
Contacts from first customers
Things are moving at a rapid pace. In forums and by word of mouth, the news spreads: Now there is a German wall printer. While Niklas is writing the app for the tablet to operate the printer, Andreas is already receiving calls from all over the world. The first interested customers are already sending binding orders.
Deliveries start soon
The dates for the first deliveries are getting closer. The app is updated once again. The team receives contacts from several agencies, the first distribution partners are signed. The days seem far too short to do all the things that need to be done before the launch.
A perfect exterior
The construction of the first five "wallPen E1" is completed, all components are assembled. The final tests before completion are underway. The first customers are trained in February. A marketing concept is developed and the implementation of marketing measures begins.
Critical phase of completion
The last phase before completion is always the most exciting. After daily practical tests, small optimizations and setting changes are made. Everyone in the team is excited - it's a bit like the days before a birth.
The customers have been trained, the bags sewn and printed, and the device is being extensively tested. In March, the first "wallPen E1" will make their way into the world. The wallPen is already attracting a lot of attention in the press, including a visit by the "IHK-Journal" to the company's headquarters in Wissen.
"E1plus", the next generation
After the successful start with the wallPen E1, the next generation of the wallPen is introduced after 1.5 years: The "E1plus" is not only visually redesigned, but also technically a new class by a complete revision of the vertical axis system, the ink supply and the UV curing. Since existing customers are very important to us, we offer them an upgrade from E1 to E1plus at cost price. Almost all customers take advantage of this offer!
Things are looking up
The year 2018 is coming to an end and is already closed with a positive business balance after a slight loss in 2017.
The wallPen Processor 2.x
The new generation 2.0 of the proprietary wallPen RIP software gets a completely new and modern user interface, a comprehensive statistics tool-set and full support of ICC profiles for optimal color reproduction on different surfaces. The update is free of charge for existing customers.
The fact that the 2019 financial year can once again close on a positive note proves that wallPen is growing sustainably and strongly and that we are now moving into our new and much larger premises in the neighboring town of Etzbach with 10 employees.
The wallPen Processor 3.x
With version 3.0 of our RIP software, MacOS is now supported for the first time. In addition, the calculation times are reduced to a minimum by the latest technologies such as multi-threading and multi-processing. The user interface is again completely revised and the software is translated into numerous languages.
Continuing on the road to success
For the third business year in a row, wallPen GmbH can look back on a strong increase in sales and profits. Despite the pandemic, we have held our ground very stably and are still on a very successful path with an increase in sales of almost 50% (!) compared to the previous year. For our customers, we are thus an even stronger partner and stand for investment security and innovative strength.
Again it becomes too tight
Due to our expansion and increasing production numbers, the existing space is no longer sufficient. The first talks with architects take place and the search for a suitable building site is in full swing.
The new wallPen E2
After almost 2 years of development and many thousands of hours, we officially present the wallPen E2. A revolutionary wall printer, designed and developed from scratch, comprehensive with its own hardware & software and much higher resolution and printing speed.
We move again
The space in the Etzbach industrial park has simply become much too small for us, so we are moving out of here into premises twice as large in the town of Wissen, which is only 8 km away. Even this will only be a stopover, because the planning for our new building is taking more and more shape and we hope to start construction in spring/summer 2022.