“The New MakerBot Replicator Might Just Change Your World”

Adafruit 495

The New MakerBot Replicator Might Just Change Your World.

Take the subway to an otherwise undistinguished part of Third Avenue in Brooklyn. Knock on the door. Wait for some stylishly disheveled young man to open it and let you in. You’ve arrived at the BotCave—the place where 125 factory workers are creating the future of manufacturing.

The BotCave is home to MakerBot, a company that for nearly four years has been bringing affordable 3-D printers to the masses. But nothing MakerBot has ever built looks like the new printer these workers are currently constructing. The Replicator 2 isn’t a kit; it doesn’t require a weekend of wrestling with software that makes Linux look easy. Instead, it’s driven by a simple desktop application, and it will allow you to turn CAD files into physical things as easily as printing a photo. The entry-level Replicator 2, priced at $2,199, is for generating objects up to 11 by 6 inches in an ecofriendly material; the higher-end Replicator 2X, which costs $2,799, can produce only smaller items, up to 9 by 6 inches, but it has dual heads that let it print more sophisticated objects. With these two machines, MakerBot is putting down a multimillion-dollar wager that 3-D printing has hit its mainstream moment.

Unlike the jerry-built contraptions of the past, the Replicator 2s are sleek, metal, and stylish: MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis likens the design to “Darth Vader driving Knight Rider’s KITT car while being airlifted by a Nighthawk spy plane.” There is also the lighting. Oh, the lighting. “LEDs are part of our core values as a company,” Pettis jokes. The new machine will glow in any hue—”to match the color of your couch,” he says, “or like something in the movie Tron.”

You’ve heard of 3-D printers, but you probably don’t own one yet. Pettis thinks the Replicator 2 will change that.

Also, Bre is on the cover of WIRED and there is a MakerBot store in NYC.

Read more.

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  1. Why is abandoning open source after all these years? (more details at Make.com (http://blog.makezine.com/2012/09/19/is-one-of-our-open-source-heroes-going-closed-source/)

  2. @sam – is there a public statement from makerbot that specifically says they are “abandoning open source” ? please post a link.

  3. Sadly it looks like the Replicator 2 will not be open source. http://blog.makezine.com/2012/09/19/is-one-of-our-open-source-heroes-going-closed-source/

  4. Woah, sorry for the dupe, guess I am just slow on the posting.

  5. @mark – is there a public statement from makerbot that specifically says the Replicator 2 will not be open source in any way?

  6. As far as I know there has not been any public announcement. However their was a Make and Slashdot article about it, and a tweet and blog post by Josef Průša confirmed it. http://josefprusa.cz/open-hardware-meaning/

  7. @mark – there does not appear to be a public statement by makerbot on MAKE, /. or josef’s site. if you find one please post it up, thanks!

  8. It’s curious why this company has gone from making sub $1000 printers to sub $2000 printers. And now is producing sub $3000 printers. I would have purchased a cupcake or thingomatic, but because they are no longer offered, I purchased a Solidoodle. Offering more for more $ is no way to secure market share. Makerbots largest value was the brand, which, as people are speculating, they might throw away for a few months head-start on copiers. What Makerbot should have done, IMHO, was go and mass produce the delta 3-d printer that made the blog rounds earlier this year. That printer was faster and bigger and seemingly simpler that most of these rep-rap knock offs. Open source or closed, I think the maker community who helped lift this company to the point that it’s at, is going to feel like makerbot has left its roots and turned its back on us. The price is enough to do that.
    But good for them for making money, and producing great products, I hope this Replicator2 works for their changing business model and they sell a ton. They more printers in the wild, the cheaper my ABS or their PLA will become. But I suspect, this is the start of the end. And that’s not good for anyone.

  9. Not clear on the license for the printer itself, but they are apparently taking the software closed source. The license is posted here: http://pastebin.com/wAsbWqh6 I love my Cupcake-derivative and they’ve made good money from me over the years and enjoyed my support. I hope they reconsider.

  10. Also Bre Pettis writes: http://www.makerbot.com/blog/2012/09/20/fixing-misinformation-with-information/

    “Question 1: Is the MakerBot Replicator 2 Open Source? We’re working that out and we are going to be as open as we possibly can while building a sustainable business”

    In other words, they’re not sure yet. This means, probably not a “yes” or he’d say “yes.”

    Also Bre writes:

    “I don’t plan on letting the vulnerabilities of being open hardware destroy what we’ve created.”

    So also he believes creating open hardware presents grave risks to MakerBot (risks that could destroy them)

    This, along with the fact that their new GUI software is not open source and may be violating GPL, is not so promising..

  11. @eric is the new GUI software using GPL code?

  12. @adafruit: In a convoluted and evasive post, Bre “confirms” that the Replicator 2 is not currently open source.

    “There is some misinformation that I’d like to clear up.”
    “Question 1: Is the MakerBot Replicator 2 Open Source?”
    “This isn’t the first change we’ve made to become more of a professional business, and it won’t be our last.”

    And the Makerware is rumoured to be linking LGPL+GPL libraries violating the GPL.

  13. @s – is the new GUI software using GPL code – besides a “rumor” ?

  14. @adafruit actually on reviewing it a little more it looks like the only GPL component was used to process the code, everything they actually incorporate is LGPL, MIT, and so on. (ie licenses that are compatible with being linked into proprietary software), so they’re not violating GPL AFAIK.

    Still a little sad that they decided that going with a proporietary license was the only way to stay competitive :-/

  15. @Eric: Good to know! Thanks for clarifying that point. 🙂

  16. the libraries that stood out to me from reading the license file were:

    avrdude (GPL)
    doxypy (GPLv2)
    unittest-xml-reporting (LGPL)
    makerbot firmware (GPLv3, LGPLv2.1)

    i don’t know how python fits into their workflow, so perhaps doxypy and unittest-xml-reporting are used in a way that is independent from the actual distributed binary. but i don’t think the same arguments can be made for avrdude or the makerbot firmware?

  17. I’m sure Makerbot considered licensing issues before producing their closed source software, and it wouldn’t be difficult for them to get it right. Anyone who is bothered by the changes is welcome to buy from another vendor or even become one themselves, it’s not like Makerbot is suing people out of the market or something.

    That Replicator 2 is a slick looking piece of hardware, I wish them luck with it. I worry a bit that they might be pricing themselves out of the market, but with their new store I’d guess they’re essentially trying to create a new market. If the end result is more makers, I certainly won’t complain. Introduce more kids to this technology, faster? That’s a great idea.

  18. The consumer market is getting crowded with low cost 3D printers. Last thing you want to do is start competing on price. Makerbot made the right choice by going higher end and improving the looks and performance. I think they are now targeting the small business market where it is easier to justify dropping a few grand for "prototyping equipment".

  19. Wow, looks like Bre just have invented a 3D printer, congratulations and keep on good job.

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