Home Depot Teams With MakerBot to Offer 3D Printers Online and in Stores - 3DPrint.com
With competition in the consumer market for 3D printers heating up significantly over the last year, partnerships are very important to companies wishing to take their products a step further in terms of name recognition and availability. When there are dozens of different 3D printers available, all with somewhat the same specifications, unless they are able to stand out and build a brand that is recognizable as well as trusted within the market, they will slowly fade. Today one such partnership has been announced, and although the benefits may not be achieved right away, it’s certainly a step in the right direction for both companies involved.
Home Depot announced last night that they have teamed with MakerBot, to offer MakerBot 3D printers online on their website, as well as in 12 stores across the states of California, New York, and Illinois. The program is only in its ‘pilot’ stage for now, but could expand over time depending on the reaction from consumers.
Makerbot’s CEO Bre Pettis described the partnership as a “step into the mainstream,” and continued by stating that “Mom, dad, contractors, interior designers – we’re looking forward to blowing their minds and making them MakerBot lovers.”
“We are thrilled to partner with The Home Depot to help bring MakerBot 3D printing technology to The Home Depot customers,” noted Pettis. “Imagine a world where you can 3D print replacement parts and use 3D printing as an integral part of design and building work. Every day we see the magic of 3D printing becoming a reality with our customers; now The Home Depot can also see that magic. We can’t wait to see what The Home Depot customers make with our products.”
Just like MakerBot has been facing increasing competition as of late, so too is Home Depot. Not only that, but over the next 10 years it is expected that the number of homeowners will decrease in the U.S., as the population continues to age. Because of this it is very important that Home Depot secures their position for the future. By adopting technology such as 3D printing, it will give consumers a feeling that the company is at the forefront of future trends.
“Ten years from now, it will be quite common for people to have 3-D printers in their homes,” said Tim Shepherd, an analyst at research firm Canalys in the U.K.
Home Dept does not expect this partnership to offer significant padding to their bottom line, at least not in the early going, but it’s certainly a move which tells shareholders that they are in fact looking towards the future. Home Depot is currently the largest home-improvement chain in the United States, realizing $78.8 billion in revenue last year, quite a bit more than the second largest chain within their industry, Lowe’s, who generated $53.4 billion.
Here is a list of the initial 12 stores that will offer MakerBot 3D Printers:
3838 Hollis Avenue, Emeryville
1232 W. North Ave., Chicago
40 West 23rd Street, New York
1781 E. Bayshore Rd., East Palo Alto
2920 Audrey Avenue, Naperville
980 3rd Avenue, New York
1125 Old County Rd., San Carlos
1300 S. Clinton Street, Chicago
1675 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles
2665 N. Halsted Street, Chicago
22855 Victory Blvd., West Hills
7100 Warner Ave., Huntington Beach
Let us know your opinion on this partnership. Will this help send 3D printing into the mainstream? Discuss in the Home Depot & MakerBot forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the video below of the MakerBot on display in a Home Depot store:
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Tagged with: 3d printers • home depot • homepot 3d printing • makerbot • partnership
Home Depot and MakerBot to Expand Their In-Store Pilot Program to 39 Stores Total in U.S. - 3DPrint.com
Home Depot and MakerBot have teamed up today to answer the now mainstream question of “Hey, how do I get one of those 3D printers?” with a surprisingly mainstream partnership. The two companies, both bigshots in their own quite separate industries, are partnering up to bring 3D printing to those perusing the aisles with projects in mind. With the spectacular array of DIY projects out there these days, the combination of MakerBot with Home Depot and all the materials needed at hand is a smart move.
In a retail program that was already in place with 12 stores, popularity of the partnership was high enough to extend it from the summer and expand the number of stores. MakerBot announced today it will be extending the program with Home Depot, offering a retail experience to the DIY and construction crowd in 39 stores.
“We are really excited to expand MakerBot’s presence in physical stores,” noted Jenny Lawton, acting CEO of MakerBot. “The addition of these new locations will bring the magic of 3D printing with a MakerBot Replicator directly to customers. It’s a very cool thing to be able to walk into a store, see and experience a MakerBot Replicator 3D Printer, then be able to purchase and take a MakerBot Replicator 3D Printer home with you.”
Those who have not yet had an introduction to 3D printing are sure to be drawn to the sleek, colorful MakerBot kiosks enticing consumers to come and try their hand at the magical new technology. It’s a great opportunity to get some free lessons and input on 3D printing, as trained MakerBot representatives are there giving demos, and offering tips when customers have questions regarding purchases of equipment and materials.
Embarking on the partnership in July, it was a ‘wait and see what happens’ pilot program that is obviously going in the right direction. Home Depot also began offering MakerBot printers and supplies online during the summer. While this may not be a profit gamechanger for the two entities initially, it does combine the forces of two companies who are at the top of their industries, and have a customer base that looks to them for the latest trends, as well a guidance in craftsmanship.
Adding the new stores for the holidays should be a boon to both Home Depot and MakerBot—as well as for customers who want to put a big ‘wow’ factor into their gift giving this year.
Does this make you want to get over to a pilot store and check out the MakerBot kiosk? What do you think of the opportunity to purchase a 3D printer in a retail environment like Home Depot? Tell us about it in the Home Depot and MakerBot forum at 3DPB.com.
The Home Depot stores that will feature the in-store MakerBot 3D Printing Experience include:
1781 E. Bayshore Road, East Palo Alto, CA
3838 Hollis Avenue, Emeryville, CA
7100 Warner Avenue, Huntington Beach, CA
1675 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angels, CA
1125 Old County Road, San Carlos, CA
22855 Victory Blvd., West Hills, CA
5215 Wadsworth Blvd., Arvada, CO
500 S. Santa Fe Dr., Denver, CO
10003 Grant Street, Denver, CO
3401 Oakwood Blvd., Hollywood, FL
11305 SW 40TH Street, Miami, FL
650 Ponde de Leon, Atlanta, GA
2525 Piedmont Road NE, Atlanta, GA
2450 Cumberland Pkwy., Atlanta, GA
1232 W. North Avenue, Chicago
2665 N. Halsted Street, Chicago
1300 S. Clinton Street, Chicago
2920 Audrey Avenue, Naperville
4700 Cherry Hill Rd., College Park, MD
13100 Valley View Rd., Eden Prairie, MN
1705 Annapolis Lane, Plymouth, MN
980 3rd Ave, New York, NY
40 West 23rd Street, New York, NY
11633 NE Glen Widing Dr., Portland, OR
14800 SW Sequoia Parkway, Tigard, OR
181 S Gulph Road, King of Prussia, PA
1651 S Columbus Blvd. , Philadelphia, PA
10515 N Mo Pac Expy., Austin, TX
3600 Interstate Hwy 35 S, Austin, TX
6110 Lemmon Avenue, Dallas, TX
11682 Forest Central Dr., Dallas, TX
1100 Lumpkin Rd., Houston, TX
8400 Katy Freeway, Houston, TX
5445 West Loop, Houston, TX
400 S Pickett St., Alexandria, VA
2815 Merrilee Drive, Fairfax, VA
6200 E Lke Samammish Pky., Issaquah, WA
2701 Utah Ave South, Seattle, WA
11616 Aurora Ave N., Seattle, WA
Stay up-to-date on all the latest news from the 3D printing industry and receive information and offers from third party vendors.
Tagged with: home depot • home depot 3d printing • makerbot • makerbot replicator
Makerbot 3D Printer Overview
No other name in the world is more associated with 3D printing than Makerbot Industries. Makerbot has taken the 3D community by storm with its 3D printers and Thingiverse. The company was formed in Brooklyn, New York and began first sales in April 2009. June 19, 2013 Stratasys Inc. acquired Makerbot Industries for $403 million.
Fast forward to the present. Makerbot has unveiled an impressive lineup of home and semi-professional 3D printers. Consumers approach buying a 3D printer based on their needs and desires, as well as the available space where they want to install their 3D printer. We will try to briefly talk about the capabilities of Makerbot 3d printers, and we hope that we will take the reader one step closer to buying a 3d printer and joining the 3d community.
Makerbot Replicator Mini
This is a small entry level 3d printer that is ideal for beginners. It has an easy-to-use interface that is not overloaded with features and settings compared to more complex 3D printers, which, while allowing the user to deeply influence the printing process, can be difficult for inexperienced users.
The Replicator Mini can be operated over wifi using the makerbot app, or using the included USB cable. You can load the model into the 3d printer while at home, or even if you are away from home. Thanks to the camera built into the 3D printer, you can control the printing process remotely via a computer or smartphone. You can stop or cancel 3d printing as needed, or share photos of your 3d printing on social media. You can also give access to watching online video of the 3d printing process to anyone who wants. Since this is an entry-level 3D printer, it does not require platform leveling, and thus saves users time and, most importantly, nerves. The second great feature of the mini is the closed chamber and transparent plexiglass door on the front side, they keep the child from touching the hot extruder, making it suitable for schools and child care facilities.
Makerbot Replicator Mini comes with an exclusive Makerbot Smart Extruder which is very easy to connect and install thanks to its gold plated contacts and magnetic holder. This makes it easy and effortless to change the extruder or carry out its maintenance or cleaning. Masks, decorations, toys for children are just a few examples of what you can print if you buy a Replicator Mini 3D printer for your home.
This compact and lightweight 3D printer is easy to carry and take on the go. Just put it back in the box and put it in your car while driving. 3D Printer Replicator Mini is a mobile factory that can produce 3D products for you even when you are away from home.
nozzle diameter (mm):
Building region (mm):
100 x 125
Maximum resolution (micron):
200 (0 .2 mm)
USB. WiFi 802.11b/g
Windows (7+/8+), Linux (12.04+), Mac OS (10.6 64bit+) th Generation and give users full control over printer settings. Unlike the Mini Replicator, the 5th Generation Replicator allows you to print with a smart extruder with a resolution of up to 100 microns. In this way, high quality and smoothness of the 3d print is achieved, and gives users the flexibility to change the look of the 3d model, such as printing thinner support for easier removal. Printing a 3d model has never been so easy, because the prototyping process has become as easy and efficient as possible.
You can connect to the 3d printer and download the model via wi-fi, USB, Ethernet or USB flash drive. The 5th generation replicator is a powerful tool that is suitable for small or home production. It allows you to conveniently and cost-effectively create a working prototype of a device or part. Also, this printer is a great example of an average 3d printer that will fit well into the high school curriculum.
3d modeling and 3d printing is gaining immense popularity due to its versatility and is increasingly used in various industries such as automotive, medical and robotics, etc.
nozzle diameter (mm):
Building area (mm):
252 x 199 x 150
Maximum resolution (micron):
100 (0.1 mm)
USB. ethernet. WiFi 802.11b/g
Windows (7+/8+), Linux (12.04+), Mac OS (10.6 64bit+)
Makerbot Replicator Z18 Professional is its size, which allows, for example, architects to use it to create large layouts, providing buyers or investors with a 3d visualization of the project. The z18 replicator is equipped with a smart extruder and a heated chamber, making it great for printing when you need to keep your 3d model from warping due to temperature differences. The user-friendly design includes an LCD display and control knob similar to the 5th Generation Replicator and serves to control printer settings. You can connect to a 3d printer and upload 3d models via wi-fi, USB, Ethernet or from a USB flash drive.
FDM/FFF - Model of Seligation
Number of printing heads:
Diameter of the nozzle (mm):
9004 900 mm):
305 x 305 x 457
Max.0046 Connection interface:
USB. ethernet. WiFi 802.11b/G
Windows (7+/8+), Linux (12.04+), Mac OS (10.6 64BIT+)
9 Supported file formats:
STL, OBJ, THING, MAKERBOT
thread diameter (mm):
41 110-240 in
493 × 565 × 854
Makerbot has passed a long jour accessories for them. They don't sacrifice the looks or functionality of a 3D printer for the cost of the device. Their 3d printers are always efficient, intuitive to operate and superbly crafted. And all this in order to provide users with convenience in work and high-quality printing. You can buy 3d printers with delivery in Russia in the 3d printers section.
Replicator New (5 generation)
MakerBot has made a bold bet that 3D printers will become as popular as microwaves. There is only one problem: everyone else did not share her enthusiasm.
In October 2009, Bre Pettis, with his distinctive sideburns and dark-rimmed rectangular glasses, took his place on the stage at Ignite NYC, threw up his hands and cheered twice. Behind him, a screen lit up with a PowerPoint slide showing a photo of a hollow wooden box with wires. Jumping up and down with his rich mop of graying hair, Petis began, "I'm going to talk about MakerBot and the future and the industrial revolution we're starting - which has already begun."
Petis, a former art teacher, became a key figure in a booming market in the late 2000s, a global community of do-it-yourselfers who lived in workshops, workshops, and hackerspaces, as well as at home, working with classic lathes. and modern laser cutters. Petis began his ascent in 2006, recording weekly videos for MAKE magazine, the homemade bible, during which he performed silly tasks like plugging a light bulb into a hamster wheel. In 2008, he co-founded the NYC Resistor hackerspace in Brooklyn. By that time he was already a star. A year later, he launched a startup with friends Adam Mayer and Zach Smith called MakerBot.
"We had a machine that made 3D objects and it was awesome," Petis said from the stage at Ignite NYC. Shrinking technology from the size of large $100,000 machines to desktop boxes, MakerBot has started a revolution in 3D printing. With the help of a 3D printer, objects designed on a computer were physically formed, in three dimensions, by superimposing layers of molten plastic on top of each other. And now any MakerBot owner could design and print their own objects.
From Pettis's point of view, the consequences of this were startling. People printing objects at home could go to the store less often and do whatever they want. He shared a story about “opened happiness”: a certain person needed a ring to propose, and he opened it. For five and a half minutes, Petis lauded what he said was "Industrial Revolution 2" led by MakerBot.
"You will be your own producer," he said. He concluded his presentation by asking the audience to “make your own future.”
A year before MakerBot was founded, analysts predicted that the global 3D printer market, worth about $1.2 billion, would double by 2015. By the end of 2012, it had practically grown. MakerBot seemed to be just in time: that year the company released its most famous and probably best device, the Replicator 2. MakerBot predicted that the device would appear in thousands of homes. Wires announced in October 2012 that its release was a "Mac Moment" for MakerBot, with the cover featuring a confident Petis holding his new brainchild and the words "This machine will change the world."
“MakerBot is, or at least was like, the Kleenex brand name for the 3D printing world. MakerBot has become synonymous with the 3D printer,” said Matt Stultz, who previously worked at the company for five months and is now a digital production editor at MAKE.
Petis has become a cult character. Even before launching the company, according to Staltz, “we were already following everything he did, watching weekly videos and watching his projects.” With the release of MakerBot, he became the king of hackers.
But the second industrial revolution, and the time when each-to-himself-producer, armed with new ideas and a faithful MakerBot, never came. By 2015, Petis, Mayer and Smith were moving on to other projects. A new director and team joined the company, and three waves of layoffs cut the original 600 employees by almost half. This year, the most popular desktop 3D printer is from a Taiwanese manufacturer.
How did MakerBot, the darling of the 3D industry, fall so low and so quickly? Petis did not respond to requests for comment, and Smith and Mayer declined to be interviewed for this article.
We collected information from various industry observers, today's MakerBot executives, and a dozen former employees of the company. Some introduced themselves, while others wished to remain anonymous.
Within a few years, MakerBot needed to make two successful moves. It was necessary to show millions of people the wonders of 3D printing, and then convince them to shell out more than $1,000 for a machine. She also needed to develop technology that was fast enough to keep customers satisfied. And these tasks turned out to be beyond the strength of the young company.
“MakerBot made a big commitment and was trying to meet a market demand that never came,” says Ben Rockhold, who worked for MakerBot for four years as an engineer. In pursuit of the dream of everyone becoming a manufacturer, MakerBot tried to produce printers that were both inexpensive and attractive, but they never succeeded.
At a TEDx conference in New York in 2012, Petis said, “When you have a MakerBot, you have a superpower. You can do whatever you need."
Years passed before someone dared to say that it was not true.
* * *
Early on, the MakerBot-based community flourished around these affordable printers.
The inspiration came from British professor Adrian Bowyer, who started work on the RepRap, a desktop 3D printer in 2005, that used fused deposition modeling to print objects. Bower wanted to create a printer that could print a copy of itself. One RepRap would spawn another by printing parts, and so on. In New York, three friends, having learned about this, came up with their own idea. Can they make a machine that prints the parts needed to assemble RepRap? And the answer was positive. Working at the NYC Resistor hackerspace, Zach Smith, Adam Mayer, and Bre Petis created the CupCake CNC, a machine that could print RepRap parts on demand.
MakerBot Assembly Parts
“The idea was to make a small number of these printers so that people can make their own RepRap, and the first batch sold very quickly,” says Staltz, who has worked for MakerBot since December 2011 to April 2012.
In January 2009, the trio founded MakerBot with a $75,000 investment, of which $25,000 came from Bower and his wife, Christina. The company was supposed to sell CupCake as a DIY kit. By spring, the company was selling CupCake sets for $750 each. “We went out because of MAKE magazine, we got the attention of the media, who really liked the idea, and they talked about it all the time,” says Rockhold.
CupCake was also an open source project. MakerBot released the hardware and software for the machine for free, and those who bought CupCakes made their own corrections and additions, which the company included in future versions of printers. The open project brought together people from inside and outside the company, and they were all looking for improvements. It also served as a good advertisement, and became the basis and attractive side of MakerBot.
“Openness is the future of manufacturing and we are at the beginning of an era of sharing,” Petis told MAKE magazine in 2011. “In the future, people will look back at businesses that didn’t want to share with their customers and wonder how they could work the other way around.”
The MakerBot represented a revolution in the production of things. A single CupCake could create near-exact replicas of itself (with the exception of bolts and other metal parts), as well as replicas of countless other objects. This movement was to evolve from a geeky subculture into a transformative force that would change society.
The demand for CupCakes was so great that the owners of these devices even helped MakerBot print parts for distribution of new sets. Active forums flourished on Google Groups and Reddit, with fans sharing object designs on Thingiverse, a site started by the company that stored files under a Creative Commons license.
Some amateurs have made corrections to CupCakes themselves. Christopher Jansen, user ScribbleJ on Thingiverse, has figured out how to reduce machine noise and improve print quality. Another user, Whosawhatsis?, has developed a more efficient extruder, a component that extrudes melted plastic.
"Because our project is open source, users know they have the right to hack the code and design," Petis said in an interview in early 2010. “They also know that if they improve the car, they can share that improvement with others and everyone will benefit from it.”
The corporate culture at MakerBot was also open and flexible. The first office in Brooklyn was more like an experimental laboratory. Employees arrived late and left late. One day you could be packing CupCakes, the next you could be checking extruders. Petis answered support questions, popped into the MakerBot Operators Google Group for comments, and occasionally helped employees navigate the complexities of the hardware by encouraging them to do things that would have gotten them fired in a more strict company. On one of his first days on the job, Ethan Hartman wondered if PLA, the plastic used to create 3D objects, would catch fire if it stuck to an extruder. He remembers that Petis grabbed the burner, a piece of plastic, and they took turns trying to light it on the floor.
“Nobody worked there to put in hours and make a lot of money selling,” says Hartman, who worked as a customer service and then company manager from April 2010 to August 2012. “People worked there because they I liked the idea that open iron could be part of a commercial enterprise.”
A lot of things were allowed in the company. Interested passers-by were not forbidden to enter unannounced and see what was happening. “In the earliest days, there was no clear operational structure. We didn't think we'd be able to support the project as it started to grow, and there was no expectation that the company would ever grow very much,” says Matt Griffin, public relations manager at MakerBot since December 2009to August 2012.
Employees thought it was a dream job and a chance to turn an alternative future into reality - a world where everyone can become a manufacturer. Hartman says that MakerBot being an open source company was the single biggest reason people loved working on it. They agreed to even lower salaries. One person recalls that his salary at MakerBot was $22,000 less than at his previous job. But working for the company was exciting. They had to turn the market on their own terms.
In September 2010, MakerBot began selling the Thing-O-Matic, their second 3D printer, as a kit for $1,225 (or $2,500 for the assembled version). By that time, many people were already using CupCakes to create various things, such as an owl-shaped headphone winder or 3D puzzles. Thing-O-Matic upped the ante. A Texas school used it to make chess pieces that looked like the landmarks of San Antonio and then sell them for $150. Petis appeared on The Colbert Report and printed a bust of Stephen Colbert on Thing-O-Matic, which is still available for download from Thingiverse. MAKE magazine compared the appearance of Petis with "a five-minute infomercial and commercial" and rejoiced noisily - they say, "who in the audience would not want to buy one for themselves?".
In the following years, trinkets were replaced by more serious undertakings, such as a 3D-printed prosthetic arm. It seemed that the vision of Petis, described by him in 2009, was being realized. People printed the objects they needed. “At first the general theme was that 'We want to change the world'. The democratization of production is a phrase we used both inside and outside the company,” says a former employee of the company's web team, who has worked there since September 2010.
The company has kept this spirit alive. MakerBot was the place where everyone went to meetings, and employees had the ending “bot” at the end of their formal position. Andrew Pelkey was hired in the second week of March 2012 to write blog posts, copywrite and oversee social media posts. But he says that he was not a writer, but a “bot” writer (WriterBot).
The Wire's then-CEO Chris Anderson and Bre Petis, 2010, New York
The classic startup mindset is: fail fast, find solutions, iterate, build fast, release. Petis called it "the cult of the job done" and listed the principles on his blog. One of them: “A mistake is considered a done deal. Make a mistake."
Petis was experienced in building a community of followers online. Fans adored him, he was an affable, admirable person who loved to create something and explore what 3D printer lovers created. In his talk at Ignite NYC, he showed a photo of a working whistle, designed by a user in Germany and printed out by a New Yorker. “We invented teleportation. Show me how to get a whistle from Germany to New York without a rocket,” he joked gleefully. The audience picked up his laughter.
And over time, it was Petis, not Mayer or Smith, who became the public face of the company. In the 2014 documentary Print the Legend, Petis recalls a conversation with the co-founders when they compared him to another tech prodigy. “You have to be Steve Jobs,” Petis recalls on camera, and then says that he himself wanted to be the equivalent of Steve Wozniak.
But Petis was doing a great job at MakerBot as Jobs, and customers were picking up the Thing-O-Matic and CupCake that MakerBot was selling on Father's Day 2011 for a special price of $455. “The typical MakerBot user was someone who recently found out that 3D printers are cool. And when they found out that they could be bought for $1,000 or less, it completely turned their heads,” says Hartman.
It wasn't just tech journalists who wrote about MakerBot anymore. Rolling Stone wrote about Thing-O-Matic. CBS Evening News wondered if the ubiquity of MakerBots would give us the ability to create anything. The New York Times printed Thing-O-Matic diagrams.
By August 2011, MakerBot had sold 5,200 printers. It received $10 million in investments that month — from the Foundry Group, Bezos Expeditions and others — and began to grow by adding another office in Brooklyn. By autumn, MakerBot employed 70 people.
The excitement grew, but early employees felt that change was inevitable. “Collecting investments is what got people excited. The attitude has changed to 'Now we have to grow dramatically and start growing the company at a tremendous rate',” says Hartman.
In a post about the investment, Petis wrote that the investment and active hiring was necessary to "democratize manufacturing and make 3D printing easier for everyone!".
* * *
The company knew it needed a simpler, plug-and-play printer to attract people other than hackers. “The kits were difficult to assemble. People needed pre-assembled things that just work,” says Hartman.
So MakerBot decided to develop and present at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) their new "MMM" product, the Mass Market MakerBot. It was planned that the cost of the MMM would be comparable to the cost of a game set-top box - and no self-assembly. Such a device should have appealed to typical Walmart and office equipment shoppers.
The company secretly orchestrated the development of MMM by setting up a subsidiary in China, a "crazy top-secret project" as one former employee called it. Zack Smith, an engineering specialist, became the head of development. He took key engineers from Brooklyn and China.
But in September 2011, Petis decided to change the course of the company. He called the members of the R&D team and announced that in three months they should design, build and test another 3D printer, The Replicator. “The Replicator was born because Bre showed up to a meeting, grabbed all the developers in Brooklyn, and said, we need a printer for CES, but didn't say why,” says Rockhold. Boxes of MMM versions arrived in Brooklyn intermittently, but "the rate of printer improvement was very slow," says Rockhold.
CES was approaching, and Pettis wanted to see the printed objects for verification: one the size of a loaf of bread and the other a DeLorean from Back to the Future. Replicator passed the test and became the main number of the company at CES. Its retail price was $1749.
It never became an inexpensive printer, but it still won the "Best Emerging Tech" award at CES. It had a certain charm - the frame of the printer was made of balsa. And it was sold fully assembled. The hardware and software were still open source, so the community could continue to support the project. And besides, the fans themselves could fix possible problems, which made the Replicator a workhorse in their eyes.
A few months later, in April 2012, MakerBot ended all operations in China. Zach Smith retired. “There was no way to mention MakerBot China,” says one former employee.
According to Rockhold, people bought the Replicator in "packs". But he says that the printer had serious problems: the heated platforms burned out because the cables did not maintain the desired voltage, and the machine itself was very sensitive to static. If a user who had built up a static charge inserted an SD card with a file to print, the machine could make a loud sound - the sound of the printer being destroyed, or, at best, the sound of an expensive repair.
By that time, MakerBot was not the only printer - and was in danger due to the fact that the company could not release printers cheaper. A month before CES 2012, web developer Brook Drumm raised $831,000 on Kickstarter for Printrbot, which was sold as a build kit and cost just $549. The Cube, a glossy plastic desktop printer from 3D Systems, a serious company specializing in industrial 3D printing, also debuted at CES 2012 for $1,299. A few months later, Solidoodle, founded by former MakerBot COO Sam Cervantes, released a new no-build printer priced at just $49.9.
That same year, analytics firm Gartner made an important discovery. On the "Gartner Hype Cycle" chart, which tracks emerging new technologies through stages from over-enthusiasm and disillusionment to sobering realism, 3D printing was placed at the very top of the peak labeled "peak inflated expectations." In an attached report, Gartner clarified that 3D printing refers to home use of printers. The idea of a consumer technology market for "do-it-yourself manufacturers" has reached the height of the hype.
* * *
In May 2012, MakerBot announced its move to the 21st floor of the MetroTech Center in Brooklyn. It already employed 125 people and was preparing to introduce a new printer, the Replicator 2, to the world. “There are no signs of a slowdown in demand anytime soon,” Petis said at the time. "It won't be long until the MakerBot is as common as the microwave!"
And then TangiBot came out in August.
On Kickstarter, engineer Matt Strong raised $500,000 to mass-produce a replica of the Replicator. "I want to bring a low-cost device to the market that users can trust," Strong said. "Replicator is the best printer and open project."
In other words, Strong simply made his Replicator under a different name. And then he offered to sell TangiBot printers for much less money, thanks to the production in China. So Strong says he could sell the printers for $1,199, $550 less than the Replicator. And technically he could do it - an open source project is not protected by copyright law. Therefore, Strong raised funds on Kickstarter to find a contractor and start production.
The community rallied around MakerBot and declared the TangiBot campaign a robbery. While the campaign failed, the experience made Pettis reconsider his love of open source projects. “The Replicator 2 was ready to go, and Bre saw the TangiBot and said, 'No, we're done with this business strategy,'” says Rockhold.
When the Replicator 2 came out, parts of the machine were covered. The black metal frame was patented, as was the graphical interface that ran the printing software on the computer. These changes looked insignificant, but the public gave the company a scolding. One former employee said that people were furious. All the fixes and improvements they made for the project for years, for free, became closed.
The community was dismayed by this move, and an outpouring of emotion hit the company's operators in the Google Group. Some users showed cautious sympathy: “I want to hear that he, like everyone else, took this decision hard, and I hope he finds a way out. Because if he did that 180 degree turn without any emotion, I would lose respect for Bre and MakerBot. But I doubt that this is the case. I hope it's not, we'll see." Others were more specific: "There is no reason to hope that a closed project will protect the design from theft or reverse engineering and resale. A closed project only harms the community."
“I think they were really hurt by us and felt left out,” Pelkey says. "Basically, MakerBot was a club and people felt like they were part of that club."
Employees were confused as well, as shutting down the project alienated the project from the fans, from the community that readily purchased MakerBot printers. “They believed that they had already made a name for themselves, and they no longer needed the community. But 3D printing today is not yet able to live without the community,” says Staltz. "If you piss off the early hobbyists, the 3D printer owners, they won't tell everyone 'Buy a MakerBot'."
The company has turned its back on the original idealism that founded it. The "era of exchange" that Petis referred to a year ago is over.
Looking back two years later, Petis seemed to imply that he had always known that MakerBot could not exist in the open. “We could stay open, but that would destroy the business,” he told Politico in August 2014. “So the question is, what is our mission? Do something absurd, utopian, unrealistic? Or are 3D printers for everyone? I chose 3D printers for everyone."
The company has raised the stakes by releasing a proprietary product. So far, it has progressed in tandem with a dedicated community that is not very demanding on technical issues. Now, when their printer could not be repaired on its own, and when it had to fit any user, perfect work was required from it.
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In June 2013, MakerBot was bought by Stratasys, one of the world's largest 3D printing companies, for $403 million, plus $201 in performance-based bonuses. MakerBot launched a massive hiring campaign and showed off three new desktop printers for CES 2014. They had new features like WiFi support, LCD displays and a new Smart Extruder.
But the cost was still too high. The Mini was priced at $1,375. XYZprinting debuted the machine at the show for $499, which is exactly what the Mini was supposed to cost according to MakerBot's 2012 plans that Backchannel got its hands on.
“Bré really wanted to reach this value, but no one was able to do it,” says Jeff Osborne, vice president of sales and business development from March 2012 to early 2013. “He knew that the market needed a cheaper device” .
According to one former employee, some of the machines shown at CES 2014 didn't even work. But still they all received awards. “It was the peak moment of the hype, as even at CES they were ready to give out awards for cars that couldn't even show their work,” he says.
MakerBot was doing well in 2014. Stratasys' annual report shows that MakerBot sold 39,356 printers in 2014, down just 1,194 printers since 2009. to 2013. Each printer came with a note autographed by Petis stating that this machine would “give you the superpower to do what you can imagine.” By the fall, Staples and Home Depot stores were already selling new printers from MakerBot.
They again had technical problems - but now the buyers could not help with their solution. More savvy users posted questions in the MakerBot Operators Google Group. One of the most hostile users stated that "after a war that lasted a year, I lost my patience." A petition has surfaced on Change.org demanding that MakerBot recall its printers.
One of the sources of user frustration was the Smart Extruder, which was supposed to inform the user that the plastic had run out. Ultimately, both MakerBot and Stratasys were sued, alleging that the company deliberately released a non-working extruder. In July 2016, the case was closed due to lack of evidence.
On Brokelyn.com, a former employee of the company, Isaac Anderson, blamed the failures of all three machines on the company's decision to move away from the open source project. It couldn't rely on its customer base of "skilled and enthusiastic people who provided a wealth of technology feedback and suggestions for improvements." The new class of buyers, he wrote, "consisted of unskillful people, did not give useful feedback, but gave only unrealistic expectations."
Bill Buell was MakerBot's Director of Engineering, which released the three machines shown at CES 2014. He says developing three machines at the same time with a tight deadline was very stressful for the engineering teams. But he also claims that each printer has been extensively tested and met the company's specifications for a ready-to-sell product.
“I can see why Bre wanted to make all three cars. He wanted an explosive response to CES, which is already a habit,” says Buell. "From an engineer's point of view, it was a big risk."
The weaknesses of printers began to affect the company. In the first quarter of 2015, Stratasys directors spoke of a slowdown in the 3D printer market, and mentioned that MakerBot sales were less than expected. In April 2015, Jonathan Yaglom, director of Stratasys, became the CEO of MakerBot, but the fate of some employees was already sealed. That month, the company said goodbye to a fifth of its employees.
In October of that year, MakerBot laid off one-fifth of its employees again. “We are not achieving results, which means financial problems,” Jaglom told me at the time. The company reportedly sold just 18,673 printers in 2015, less than half of what it sold in 2014.
Last April, Yagolm announced that MakerBot would close its 16,000 m2 manufacturing facility at 2 in Brooklyn, lay off more employees, and transfer all production to China as the company celebrated the sale of its 100,000th printer. An analysis of the company's reports showed that in the first three months of 2016, MakerBot sold only 1,421 printers.
“In 2014, the company was confident that the consumer market was ripe. In 2015, we realized that the market was not what we imagined it to be,” Jaglom told me the day MakerBot announced it was closing the factory.
Turns out 3D printers aren't all that revolutionary, at least not yet. Big companies like General Electric and Ford are experimenting with 3D printing and using it to make parts. GE bought the two respective companies this year for $1.4 billion. But the technology is not yet reliable enough, fast enough, and cheap enough to replace traditional technology.
This is also a rather complicated process. To print the desired object, you need to know how to create a 3D design, which, of course, has become much easier to do thanks to online programs such as TinkerCAD. But the extruder head may become clogged during printing. The backing may warp. The result may be crooked, which will require you to rotate the part next time. “It takes a lot of work. It's not like you can push a button and get what you imagined,” says Rockhold.
In the dizzying days of 3D printing, there were no questions to ignore or tasks to put off until later. What is happening now Yaglom calls the "calming down of the hype" in the industry, when the perception of her society finally begins to coincide with reality. Stratasys' stock price stumbled from a record $136 in January 2014 to $25 in October 2015 when MakerBot announced a second wave of layoffs.
“People want things to happen faster, we live in a world of speed, but it takes time to get a new thing to market,” says Jenny Lawton, who joined MakerBot in 2011 and has worked as an acting director. CEO from late 2014 to early 2015. “3D printing is still in progress. She looks like an awkward teenager."
Other 3D printing companies also suffered. Solidoodle suspended work last spring. Electroloom, which created fabric printing, closed in August, in part due to a "poorly defined market opportunity." Stratasys' main competitor, 3D Systems, announced in the fall of 2015 that it was closing a factory in Massachusetts that employed 80 to 120 people. At the end of that year, the company decided to stop selling Cube printers. Like MakerBot, it struggled to compete with smaller startups that had lower overheads and cheaper printers. Today, Taiwanese XYZprinting knocked MakerBot out of first place to become the world market leader in desktop 3D printers.
This year's Wohlers Report, an annual report on the 3D printer market, seems to be saying the opposite: 270,000 desktop printers were sold last year. But mostly these cars are bought by commercial organizations and schools, not individuals.
"The plan followed by MakerBot, 3D systems and others is an illusion - one in which the average home user has one or more of these machines - there is simply no market for them," says Terry Wohlers, president of the consulting firm that publishes the report. . "Maybe that's where MakerBot got it wrong in the first place, believing there was such a market."
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On a sunny September morning, Jonathan Yaglom welcomed journalists, business leaders in Brooklyn, and MakerBot employees to the MetroTech Center. The company had good news. It released the sixth generation of desktop printers, the Replicator+ and Mini Replicator+.
During the one-hour presentation, employees talked about larger frames for printing larger objects, software and hardware improvements. The new app from MakerBot allows even a novice to walk through the printing process from start to finish. The new printers are much quieter than the previous ones. They can finally work on the desk without distracting people. "We've completely redesigned them entirely," Mark Palmer, Head of User Experience Development at MakerBot, told the crowd.
Jaglom described the change in company policy. In the past, MakerBot "created products and hoped to find consumers." Now the company has changed: it asked users what they needed and developed products for their needs. This was done with an eye to the two markets Yaglom believes MakerBot would be best suited for: professional engineers with designers, and teachers. Today, more than 5,000 schools in the US have MakerBot printers.
Petis stepped down as head of MakerBot in September 2014, and was going to head an "innovation workshop" at Stratasys called Bold Machines. The goal of the project is to prove that 3D printing can be applied to serious projects, and not just to the production of knick-knacks. In June 2015, Bold Machines spun off into a separate company. Today, Petis runs Bre & Co., a startup that makes “family jewel-level gifts,” the first of which was a $5,800 watch. Petis avoids publicity. But many former employees express admiration for his assertiveness, determination and visionary. “Without Bre, the company would not have been a milestone in the history of 3D printing,” one of them said.
In retrospect, it's easy to criticize MakerBot for misjudging a potential market. Even icons of innovation are not always capable of inventing the future. "MakerBot, it was the first time people knew there was 3D printing," says Hartman, one of the earliest employees. “It seems to me that this is the essence of success, and at the same time what led to the defeat. She promised a future that is yet to come."
In October, Popis appeared at Syracuse University (USA). At Hendrix Chapel, the university's public gathering space, Petys, still sporting sideburns and dark-rimmed rectangular glasses, told the audience that successful people are those who "show what they can do and do cool stuff.