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albert

Makerbot and thingiverse sold to StrataSys

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I've always for some reason or another had the impression that that was the goal all along... It's always been too markety.. somehow.. Through their marketing efforts were talking more to suits than they were to the quality of the product and the end users. That said, the makerbot was a close second when I was researching printers.

I really hope they don't make thingieverse evil.

 

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Im not very convinced that a valuation of 500,000,000 is a very representative amount...for what in the end

is basically a website, and a company making a product that is (compared to the kind of tech that

Stratasys already has) pretty obsolete in a commercial printer product context.

Which suggests to me, that either its just another "buy-it-out-and-let-it-wither-on-the-vine" story, or perhaps

that we will see both being fully commercialised in the near future.

Either way, I very much doubt that its something that will make any contribution to the open source maker community.

However, it can be seen as good news - in a way - because its one less competitor for UMaker. Im quite certain

that after the Makerbot has been put through the full commercial treatment it will be less attractive to buy.

Probably we can expect to see the filament "cartridge" prices hiking up soon I reckon.

C

 

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I agree with Calum as well on his thoughts. I think this was MakerBot's goal all along. They started off as hackers big into the opensource realm... But they've been moving towards a closed commercial format and I think it was their ultimate goal all along to transition from 'hackers' to a respected 'proper' business.... I've seen comparisons between them and Apple... and I've been thinking that they felt really Apple-like for the last year. Sellouts in may ways - Eschewing their roots and trying to become a 'respected' and 'proper' brand... I've never been a fan of Apple and in the last year I've been glad that I decided on an Ultimaker and not a Thing-o-matic.

I think this is necessary in order to get printing mainstream... Hackerish companies (Companies with out the big generic corporate image) just will not break into the everyday layman market. At the same time, nobody outside of the 3d printing community have heard of Stratesys, but yet a lot of people have heard of Makerbot. This gives Stratesys recognition in the common hobbyist market segment and a way to break into the general consumer market. They do not need the technology but they clearly feel that the Makerbot brand is worth something.

I fear this is bad news for Thingiverse.. We've had a few scares in the past year about them changing their terms of services to make themselves less free and open... I think this trend will continue. I doubt they'll ever completely close it to the free/opensource community... but I bet that very shortly we'll see the option for people to sell their models for profit (with Stratysis taking a cut) and possibly down the road a clause saying that you relinquish all rights to any 'free' models that you upload.

Overall though, the move might be good for 3d printing in general... Stratysis will have the clout to produce good quality printers at a good price that can be placed right beside inkjet and laser printers your local computer store. This is the way to get 3d Printers into mainstream. I don't think that will significantly hurt UM which is currently still embedded in that 'Hacker' space and I don't think that market will ever go away... As a hacker / maker / tinkerer myself I will always go with a kit or build-it-yourself option over a commercial choice. If I could have a build-it-yourself bigscreen LCD tv from a kit I would.... hmm... I miss Heathkit.

Cheers,

Troy.

 

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I have found this website with mostly really disastrous insider reviews of the company. The current management seems to be completely incapable of running a company that has expanded to this size. Ultimaker, keep to "small is beautiful"!!

The sale might be their only way out. So many disgruntled employees...I must admit that the public appearances of Mr Bre Pettis gave me the impression of an "overcooked ham" to employ a word from the acting profession.

http://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/Makerbot-Reviews-E480203.htm

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I think that this was an inevitable direction for the company - especially once they started taking on investors a year or two back. I think I'd probably have done the same thing, if I'd been in their position. They've obviously been trying to make themselves seem more corporate and 'professional' although it seems to have come at the expense of engagement and drive - personally I thought their presence at Maker Faire was utterly lackluster this year. Compared to the buzz around Ultimaker, and some of the other printers, a couple of corporate-looking guys standing behind a table with a Replicator 2 on it didn't really do much for me.

Thingiverse may be the more interesting part of the equation for Stratasys. There's nothing technically innovative about the printers really, compared to the technologies that Stratasys already has. Makerbot probably has more awareness built up than most other brands among the general public, but its still virtually zero; there's not a lot of advantage in that. But Thingiverse would give Stratasys a way to control and monetize models for printing - they probably see it as a fledgling 'iTunes Store for 3D printing'. At the very least, they'd probably prefer that even if for now it remains free, they want to be the ones controlling it, rather than a competitor.

I imagine that we'll start to see a lot more DRM-style controls getting introduced as designers try to monetize their models, and printer manufacturers try to find a way to earn on-going revenue once they have sold the printer (and yes, I expect more printers will start switching to proprietary filament cartridges so they can own that revenue stream as well).

 

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Stratasys could easily make their own version of the makerbot machine ,if they wanted too.

 

Actually, I'm not sure of that. They are a big company designed around big expensive machines. Making a cheap machine is a whole different league.

I do want to argue that Makerbot also does not know how to make a good cheap machine, most of their "innovations" where copies from other machines combined with marketing. But Stratasys doesn't know that, as they are not "in touch" with the market, buying Makerbot puts them "in touch" with the market. (that's how they think)

 

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They are designed around expensive machines because they deliver parts that are of retailable quality. The makerbot machines are nothing more than a version of the reprap machines ,designs of which are freely available. Given the expertise that Stratasys obviously have ,it wouldnt take much to advance the machine way more than the user base ever could. so really I would value the product really low as the user base is very low, the amount of users on Thingiverse is masive though. The advertising potential is huge and these days it seems that it is far easier to let a website rake in the cash than it is to spend on R&D and manufacture of a machine.

paul

 

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