Fixing Misinformation with Information

Posted by on Thursday, September 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

There is some misinformation that I’d like to clear up.

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. We are going to continue to respect licenses and continue to contribute to the open technology of 3D printing, some of which we initiated. We don’t want to abuse the goodwill and support of our community. We love what we do, we love sharing, and we love what our community creates. I believe strongly that businesses that share will be the winners of tomorrow and I don’t think that’s a secret. Even companies like Google and IBM are embracing open source and finding new ways to share these days.

I’m looking forward to having conversations with folks at the Open Hardware Summit to talk about how MakerBot can share as much as possible, support it’s 150 employees with jobs, make awesome hardware, and be sustainable. Will we have to experiment to make this happen? Yes, and it’s going to take a lot of collaboration, cooperation, and understanding.

I wish there were more examples of large, successful open hardware companies. From a business perspective, we’ve been absurdly open, more open than any other business I know. There are no models or companies that I know of that have more than 150 employees that are more open. (Would love to be wrong, but I don’t think I am.) We are experimenting so that we can be as open as possible and still have a business at the end of the day. Will we be successful? I hope so, but even if we are not, everyone will find out that either being as open as possible is a good thing for business or that nobody should do it, or something in between. I personally hope that we succeed, not just because I love what people make with MakerBots and I love the employees that make these machines but because I believe that MakerBot as a business can create a new model for businesses to learn from. I don’t plan on letting the vulnerabilities of being open hardware destroy what we’ve created.

The most successful open source hardware businesses that I know are businesses that create educational projects. Adafruit, Evil Mad Science, and Sparkfun are all doing awesome. Companies like Chumby and OpenMoko didn’t make it, despite having really smart folks involved. A lot of hardware projects on Kickstarter are open source, but I haven’t seen any scale up yet. Again, I would welcome any examples of large open source hardware companies here. There is something very powerful here to observe. Hardware companies that make projects are the most successful at being open source.

We are going to continue to contribute to projects that we’ve started and to other open source projects. I’ve been a fanboy of EFF and FSF for long enough to respect licenses. I was a teacher for many years and know that when you share with a respectful community, everyone in that community wins.

We are actively working on a developer program to create cutting edge emerging stuff. We look forward to finding ways of creating win/win situations with developers and companies. Thankfully, not everyone is out to get a free lunch, both Ultimaker and many RepRap projects have contributed to the technology and show that we can work together and stand on each other’s shoulders.

This isn’t the first change we’ve made to become more of a professional business, and it won’t be our last.

Question 2: Did Thingiverse terms of use change to “steal” people’s things.

Thingiverse does not steal. We created Thingiverse to be the greatest place to share things using open licenses. The terms, that we set up in February of this year, allow us to share your designs on our website and protect us from companies with lawyers. Could we make that more user friendly? Yes, but lawyers cost money and making it simple for people to understand will cost many hours of lawyer time. I’ve put it on our todo list for 2013 to make the terms easier to understand and avoid misunderstandings. If you’re concerned about this make sure to read the post that I wrote earlier this year about the terms of use on Thingiverse.

Tagged with 117 comments

117 Comments so far

  • Chris B
    September 20, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    Doesn’t seem like there are some wildly different issues faced by ‘open hardware’ than by ‘open software’ and there are many examples of very successful and very large businesses doing open software and providing services as a way to make money.

    The analogies are there. Innovate and capitalize on services and enterprise features while remaining open with your core like the big boys do.

  • Lasivian
    September 20, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    Uh, FYI, You posed this question:

    “Question 1: Is the MakerBot Replicator 2 Open Source?”

    But you do not answer it. You just dance around it and throw out a bunch of happy words about open source.

  • Marcus Wolschon
    September 20, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    Good to see some official statement on the events of this day.

    Could you clarify the sentence
    ” You agree to irrevocably waive (and cause to be waived) any claims and assertions of moral rights or attribution with respect to your User Content.” ?

    That would probably put an end to most of the confusion.
    It was asked about but not answered in your february blog posting.

  • Brian
    September 20, 2012 at 3:53 pm


    You are in the same position most new technology businesses find themselves in as they grow. What you are doing is by no means unique (from a business perspective) however you built your company on the backs of the community. You may not agree but ask yourself if you would be on the map, or even solvent if you didn’t have the project to work from.

    With 10M in VC funding I expect much was spent on Lawyers determining if the RepRap project founders have a claim moving forward, I suspect that is no. In addition your Thingverse legal page seems to have been written by Lawyers since “user friendly” != legalese.

    I’m a business person myself so I can understand your position but I think you are disrespecting the community with your above post, take a clear stand and stick with it since they deserve that much respect. Your VC might not agree (neither would I if I wasn’t in this community) but I think you will hollow out your community support if you do not. It has provided you and continues to provide you much more value then the VC can understand.

  • cerberus333(aka Perry)
    September 20, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    My Two cents.
    I felt the issues of ownership of models was being overblown.
    If I had something I did not want to share I would not be posting it on
    thingirverse to begin with. I realize the wording of legal agreements are
    difficult to make both precise and at the same time accessible to the non-legal audience.
    I not aware that makerbot / thingirverse having taken any actions
    to make me feel they have betrayed the trust of the community of 3d artists and engineers etc.
    I really hope that we can continue to share our art and make the 3d printing movement remain both a grassroots as well as a successful business opportunity.
    If both succeed then the market price for the end consumer goes down for a superior
    product, supplies will become cheaper (ideally), and the art will continue to have a more
    “democratic” platform.
    -Perry (aka cerberus333)

  • Zh4x0r
    September 20, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    Please answer your first question as a yes or no, not as a long talk. as Lasivian said, you dance around it.

    A better way to phrase it: Will Makerbot Industries be releasing the source design files, source code for firmware, and all related files?

    Yes or No is really all we’re asking for. Not a bunch of dancing around saying nothing.

    I think you guys at Makerbot need to go back and look at those first videos you posted about how you wanted a 3D printer but couldn’t afford one. Because by continually upping the price on Makerbots, You’ve pulled the solution you created out of the hands of the people who are in the position you were in at the start.

    I’ve known the day that Makerbot starts closing down and becoming a black box was coming, I just hoped that it wouldn’t come so soon.


  • Barry
    September 20, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    I really do wish you good luck, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this is your undoing. Like many before you, you are at a point where you have to let go of your base for any hope of significant growth. With the Replicator 2 looking a bit more like a polished consumer project and less like a hobbyist’s dream, it’s clear that there is a desire to push more mainstream.

    Some companies manage to become mainstream, some manage to fall back on their base, and some fail and die out while trying to break free. I wish you’d gone with option (2), but since you aren’t interested I hope option (1) works.

    That being said, you lost my business. We were considering upgrading to our third MakerBot; I was reluctant on one hand but felt some loyalty on the other. If you manage to go mainstream I’m glad I supported you early on, but I’m not going to repeat my teenage self’s mistake and try to cling to the relationship after it is clear I have been outgrown.

  • John
    September 20, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    Well, I hope you can remain as open as possible. I’d just like to point out that dead end derivatives (which the replicator 2 would become if it went closed source) are bad. Open source hardware relies on ethics to work. I hope you can remember the passion you had two years ago when you wrote this and understand that folks in the reprap community feel today like you did two years ago. Many new users may not be aware that these discussions have happened before in the past. Open hardware is hard. There’s still time to make things right, I hope you are able to remain as open as possible.

  • Joshua
    September 20, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    MakerBot needs to choose. Either you are going to be an open source hardware company and continue having the support of the community that you helped build….or you are going to close down and become a normal company – sell some printers in the short term and the community will move elsewhere.

    I think it is pretty clear that at the end of the day open source is going to win. We are all smarter than any of us. The question is – will MakerBot be the champion corporation that helps open up all the others by providing a good example or will it just be another company that used the business models of the past before the coming change.

    I hope you make the right choice.

  • Joe
    September 20, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    I dont want this to come off too harsh… since no matter what happens in the future to MBI, I consider you a hero of the open source hardware movement, but the 2009 version of you would kick your ass 🙂

    The guys in that interview were never going to make a million bucks selling kits from a rented room above a hackerspace, but I dont see anything that says it was unsustainable. “limited growth potential” is perhaps a better word than “sustainable”

  • SSW
    September 20, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    There are a lot of creative people like product designers, architects, scientists, artists, and engineers that have been waiting for affordable ways to prototype their innovations. To hold their ideas in their hands.

    Many of these people have no interest in building, trouble shooting, and maintaining their own machines. Their focus is on the things that they are creating, not the source files of the extruder. They want a machine that is dependable and supported, to get the work done. They want to tweak their designs, not the printer.

    I’m talking about MAKERS that want to make things other than 3D printers. I think the Replicator 2 fits that market.

    Source design files for the Replicator 2? It doesn’t appear to be a DIY/hobbyist design anyway. It would probably involve types of fabrication beyond most hobbyists.

    It would be nice to run MakerWare on my TOM. Possible?

    Would MakerBot consider reintroducing another additional kit-open-source machine design that would serve the hobbyist community, along side the professional market??? Hmmm? Can you do both?

    — Bernie

  • Christopher Allan Webber
    September 20, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    This post is titled “fixing misinformation with information”, and I agree that the Thingiverse TOS stuff was misinformed. However, the *main* bit of rumor going around was that MakerBot was moving away from open hardware, and this seems to be true, so that doesn’t seem like misinformation at all… in fact, it makes the title feel like misinformation, or at least a tad orwellian.

    Anyway, I wonder if the FAQ will be updated. It currently says:

    There’s no downside to open source. It’s a smart business choice that allows us to incorporate improvements from our users, but, more than that, it fosters a sense of community. We’re not just creating and selling products — we’re all working together to make the best MakerBot we can.

    … but this blogpost seems to contracict that.

    Anyway, I agree with Chris B… there are plenty of “open source” businesses, I don’t see on what basis you’re thinking “open hardware” is impossible. I was ready to buy a replicator 2 because I believed in what you are doing in MakerBot… now I won’t be doing so. :\

  • Dojan
    September 20, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    First: Thank you for responding and engaging in a discussion with the community!

    Second: You didn’t answer your own first question. When I read what you did write, I get the impression that you haven’t decided yet, which surprises me. If this is not the case, and it is open, please provide a link to the source files. Then there would not be a shadow of a doubt.

    Third: I really, really, sincerely, believe that you will not be more successful as a closed source company. Too much of our community is built on free and open source foundations, and by free people. Open-sourcing the future was and is one of the strongest motivations for me personally to engage in this community, and I will not support, help or use anything form any company that goes against that, and I know I am not alone: Just look at the uproar today.

    Forth: I don’t understand how you can launch a closed source product (if that is indeed the case, see “Second” above) based in large part on a GPL licenced open source product: You state yourself in this blogpost that you cannot. The GPL License explicitly forbids releasing derivatives under more strict licenses. Please clarify.

    Fifth: You ask for examples of other successful Open Source companies. If there were many other, I would not hold you so dear, for exactly the reason that you are one of the first. That’s the main thing that’s so exiting about Makerbot. And what kind of excuse is that anyway? Don’t be so afraid to go where none has gone before! If you do, we are with you!
    On the other hand there’s RedHat with 3’700+ employees(2011), Canonical with 500+ employees(2012), MySQL AB (before they where bought by Sun for over $1Billion) with 400 employees(2008), Mozilla with 600+ employees(2011) and so on and so forth: You will note that while these companies are not all of them 100% open source in all that they do, I have not included companies like Novell and Sun and the like, who backstabbed the community, and also payed the price for it. Oh, and I don’t by that open source hardware is so much more difficult to build a company around than open source software: Sure, they are different, but unlike software you can sell a physical product for money, since it’s not (yet!) downloadable, and most people getting a makerbot will be interested in getting your very own top quality.

    Sixth: If there is some good reason for making these changes, TELL US! ASK US! WE WANT TO BE A PART OF THE PROCESS! Unlike most other companies who are just in it for the money, WE ACTUALLY CARE ABOUT YOU GUYS! That’s why some of us also get very upset about this!

  • Jordan Wright
    September 20, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    It saddens me to see that you used 7 paragraphs and didn’t even answer the question. A large HR department is supposed to do that, not a “open source” company.

    Is the makerbot being pirated and duplicated so much that you would be forced to shutdown if it continues?

  • Propellerscience
    September 20, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    Thank you for addressing this, sort of. I’m taking a wait-and-see approach, and in the meantime I will be putting any files I wish to share where I had originally planned on putting them before I knew about Thingiverse. My website.

  • Stan
    September 20, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    @Zh4x0r @Lasivian

    Bre does answer the question in the first sentence after question:

    “We’re working that out and we are going to be as open as we possibly can while building a sustainable business.”

    If insist on casting that statement to a bool, the answer is “No.” However, if you want to understand the nuances of “No” (and the possible time dependence of “No”), then read the rest of the post.

  • Will
    September 20, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    I enjoyed this Q&A, let’s do this again soon!

    Q: Are the reports of you doing bad stuff true?
    A: Stuff is really complicated. It’s really complicated to work out if stuff is bad. Thanks for your question.

  • Robbie
    September 20, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    You did NOT answer “Is the MakerBot Replicator 2 Open Source”.
    Also avoided was the question of MakeWare violating the GPL.

  • pt
    September 20, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    thanks for posting this up bre, this is a great conversation that everyone can and should join in, thoughtfully -and- respectful to each other. let’s all be good to each other with our words & actions. there’s a lot of passion here for many. this is a great opportunity to talk about open source and open source hardware as companies like makerbot, adafruit, sparkfun, etc, etc grow. so let’s talk 🙂

  • John Cope
    September 20, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    If you could clarify plainly, what section 3.2 of the ToS of Thingiverse now means to you as a company, that would be awesome. And if you could actually answer the first question you put out, that’d be swell also.

  • JoseH
    September 20, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    @Cris. So you say it is impossible to live from creating and selling products, because Makerbot is a product, not service company.

    Services companies are totally different from services ones. Engineers,technical people must do introvert work(work with things), services people extrovert work(work with people).

    So what you say is like saying that you can life as a taxidriver selling opera tickets, but driving the taxi you will loose money. But then you will have to compete with people that only sells opera tickets, why drive the taxi in the first place?.

    @Bre. I understand what you made, specially after Tangibot but it seems you went too far. It seems the software is going to be completely black box without even open specifications for compatibility or Interface documentation. This will make the software incompatible with other printers like my printrbot or Prusas or Ultimakers.

    It that case I would never use a makerbot product, I will vote with my wallet, only Thingiverse, witch was a fantastic contribution to open hardware.

  • FuCHs
    September 20, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    Don’t talk the talk if you can’t walk the walk.

  • Tim Owens
    September 20, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    The trolls demanding immediate action and response from MB are annoying and no matter what size company I was I’d ignore them. Makerbot has done enough for the open source hardware community to earn themselves some time to figure out how they move forward. I appreciate the honesty and transparency so far and also appreciate that there are ramifications for a company like Makerbot that Reprap fans spouting off in comment threads aren’t going to understand or acknowledge. Rather than staging a revolt on Thingiverse and publishing rumors and hearsay across the web and Twitter it would be great for everyone to take a day or two and just relax.

  • CB
    September 20, 2012 at 6:25 pm


    you guys knew that there would be a backlash towards the replicator 2 being closed source many many moons ago, and you should have at least said something to some of the key people on the reprap side of things at least,

    this statement however does nothing for the damage done over the last 24 hours to the reprap side of things, it is unrecoverable, original source is now being
    removed from thingiverse for quite a few key things to the prusa and many others, to make it worse they are setting up a “githubiverse” just what we need , git hub is a PITA to use at the best of times,

    even if the replicator2 is eventually released as opensource, re the files for it going to actually be openable? i remember a while ago now when i tried laser cut out a cupcke and then then a thingomatic, i had hell of a time trying to open the files because they had incompatible text and images which really only worked with some of the high end expensive cad software,

    a todays exmple is the mk7 extruder, the published drawings for that are uselless and confusing and make it impossible to actually make one,

    while your working out the release type of the replicator2 i strongly suggest you take 5-10 mins to visit the #reprap IRC room and quickly answer a few questions, it would be 10 mins well spent as this the where the thingiverse occupy revolt started with josefprusa and a few other people

  • Pieter C
    September 20, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    There are some examples of closed source companies with roots in the FOSS world who still support FOSS (Sourcefire, the custodians of Snort is one). I think one should not forget how FOSS came about: an attempt to make things better when customers are locked into inefficient legal relationships with suppliers and no alternatives.

    If you go closed source, you will have customers and you will be like all other closed source companies. It will be IBM boring and you will be rich….. then you can leave and start another company 🙂

    If you abuse the FOSS licensing terms, you will be taken to court. And if you get slow and write bad code/produce a bad product, then the FOSS movements will always be there as an alternative.

    I guess in reality, the decision has been made for Makerbot when you took investment. You should have set out your FOSS vision as a requirement before you made the deal because money men have a problem seeing money in FOSS.

    My last comment: learn from the companies that did well by closing their core product. If you keep investing in the community, you will retain their support.

    Remember what Richard Stallman did when he had problems with Unix? He fixed it, for free (as in speech) and it gave him pleasure.

  • i break things too
    September 20, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    this information is very disappointing: a yes or no, was expected….but well you did tell a lot by avoiding a clear answer.

    See, Bre, the people that support Makerbot Industries support an ideal, a shared ideal, built in collaboration and openness within the rules of a community, not the rules of a “developer program” of a big company. is not even about the shinny blackbox you released – it´s about the trust of a community that is not even limited to the makerbots.

    What you don’t want to destroy now for the “vulnerabilities of open source” is something that was created on them (although would be cool if you could described them btw?). Open source can be a vulnerability only for those who just don’t know how to share.

    The principles of open source and sharing have not changed last time i checked.

    We all need to break things to learn. And you break something.

  • Arturo
    September 20, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    What about a model (if you can call it that) similar to id Software. They made great 3d game engines and eventually released the code. Once they had their newest bleeding edge engine in the market.

    So release Replicator 2 specs to the world when you have version 3 ready to go to market.

    Just a thought.

  • Ezra Zygmuntowicz
    September 20, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    As a founder of an open source software company that raised $39million in VC and grew to 250 employees in 16+ countries in 5 years I can relate the tightrope that must be walked. But you are on the path now, makerbot industries is no longer yours and you are beholden to the board of directors and the almighty dollar now.

    I now have my own self funded open hardware/3d printer company with 16 employees. Not as large as MBI but not beholden to anyone but myself either.

    I learned a lot of hard lessons at my former get big fast take as much VC as you can startup. Those lessons have made me very cautious about how I will run this new venture, TrinityLabs.

    Good luck with the tightrope walk and dog and pony show. Been there done that , now I’m bootstrapped and own my own company and intend to keep that control so things like this aren’t forced on me and I can remain true to my decade+ open source roots.

    These are interesting times and I wish you well. I do not envy you though. But beers on me in NYC at MakerFaire if you want some free advice from someone who has the battlescars of a VC funded open source company larger then yours that lived to fight another day with a *bootstrapped* self funded open hardware startup. Just come grab me and I’ll tell you takes you are probably just getting started dealing with 😉

  • Chris
    September 20, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    It’s been less than 9 months since I bought my Thing-O-Matic kit and already there’s been 2 huge releases from Makerbot practically making my machine all but obsolete. I really respected the open-source, community side of Makerbot, but now I feel like forgetting about 3d printing for about 5 years and then seeing what’s come out 15 revisions later.

  • jrspruitt
    September 20, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    About the success of open hardware companies, isn’t the PC/IBM computer pretty much “open source” in essence? Seems anyone can create compatible hardware, and there has been a lot of companies that survived on it. While not strictly OSH, seems to me it would deal with similar issues, as would any hardware that deals with some sort of standard form and mode of operation, like a generic telephone, silverware, desk lamps etc.

    As for providing design files, it is rare that anything I build on my own can compete with the purchasing power of a manufacturer, not sure if it is the same here, regardless if I want to build it, I’ll build it, with or with out plans. I understand the paranoia of leaving the gate open, but I don’t think its unheard of to live that way and prosper. Also with brand identity being so powerful, I’d think you’d have a leg up on any copies that came along with all but the most “frugal” of consumers. I know I feel bad if I find out something I bought was a copy, and I could have paid the actual designer for their version.

    With that being said, it’s your business, it doesn’t change what I think of it. While I wish you’d blaze that trail for other OSH to follow, I get the risks, the people you employ, their families, etc etc. I too would find it hard to put them in harms way.

  • Steve
    September 20, 2012 at 9:26 pm


    I believe you have made a error of judgement or under estimating the value of open source. I agree being open source always increases threat of entry. In yesteryears companies entrench themselves in closed source. And the appearance of open source, they felt it was a passing fad, only soon to realize that even goliath can fall to his knees with the power of many.

    If you would like to fortify yourself, please do so. But I would suggest these methods rather then burning bridges :

    1) Excellent customer support
    2) Ability to adapt quickly
    3) Create softwares that compliments the process of printing and extend it with features that requires payment (for example) Printer drivers, Portals for specific purposes that generates income.
    4) increase value for purchasing from your company (not just Price)
    5) Provide true leadership in Innovation
    6) Solutions for specific customer base

    Corporates buy because of your brand, hobbists help you spread that brand name.

    Open source allows hobbists like me to have readily available options that a company does not provide.

    Regardless of your decision, I truly hope you would find a business model that does not only depend on your hardware as anyone would tell you hardware has a limited time expiration in the modern world.

    Best Regards

  • Bre Pettis
    September 20, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    Chris B – Software and hardware have some similarities, but it’s really different stuff. But I take your point about service and we are adding a pro-level of support by offering MakerCare. Will people purchase it? We’ll see.

    Lasivian – Folks really want a black or white answer, but in my experience, it just doesn’t work that way when combining open source, hardware, and business. There is an open hardware definition, but it’s a far throw from a business model.

    Marcus – I don’t think clarifying that would put an end to most of the confusion. The legal terms of use are there to keep Thingiverse legit and protected, not to take away attribution. We know attribution is critical in a community of sharing.

    Brian – I get it. We spent the last two years focused on making 3D printers that you didn’t have to assemble it. (in the case of the original Replicator, you had to install the toolhead and level the build platform, both of which weren’t as easy as I would have liked in retrospect, but we improved those things for the Replciator 2.) We are working on ways to do a better job inviting the community to participate. Being open source isn’t a developer program or an API.

    Cerberus333 – Wow, flattered to have you here. I love your work. Thank you for your work.

    Zh4x0r – Again, I’m not convinced that it is a black and white issue. We’re going to be releasing a lot of awesome components of what we do. We’re going to continue to contribute work in the open. Are we going to be a billion percent open? Probably not, but I’m going to keep thinking about what folks are saying until OHS. As I mentioned before, I’m not convinced that open source hardware is actually a business model. Right now, there is a definition and it works really well for projects. Does it work well for hardware? I’m not willing to sacrifice 150 jobs just to be pure open source hardware. I’d rather experiment and develop a business model that shares obsessively while still being sustainable and creating jobs so people don’t just get to contribute, cooperate and participate in open projects on nights and weekends but can do what they love as their day job at MakerBot or independantly with MakerBots to make money and support families.

    Barry – I totally get that people wish we would fail or die trying. You are catching us at a moment where we are trying to figure out how to share as much as possible without failing. Our mission is to bring 3D printers to the masses so that individuals can make their ideas real. If we can manage not to die and we can continue to innovate and create better and more affordable 3D printers, there will likely be a massive influx of individuals who are empowered to create new products, prototype them or even create small runs of them and eventually transform the creative and entrepreneurial landscape of the USA and beyond.

    John – Thank you. The whole dead end derivative issue was a real eye opener for me. Thank you for your encouragement to stay as open as possible.

    Joshua – We don’t need to choose. We need to figure out how to transform the world and bring manufacturing to every desktop so that people can create a new class of jobs and be empowered to solve the challenges of tomorrow with this technology. I used to think that open source automatically meant winning. I’m not convinced that is all it takes any more. I believe that tenacity, growth, collaboration, hard work and being able to compete with non-open competitors are all critical in being sustainable as a business. We’re going to do our best to do all those things and be as open as we can. I am starting to believe that there is something more hardcore than open source hardware that allows bottom up innovation to happen with collaboration among a trusted network of people who love to solve problems and work together. I think the biggest bummer about open source is that most people contribute on nights and weekends and can’t follow their hearts and be innovative in their day jobs. I believe there is a way to push forward and find a new business model based on community, trust, friendship, and raw innovation to grow small companies that have sharing as a core part of their business. I’m still cogitating on this and may have something clearer to say about it by OHS. Feel free to criticize this and find holes in this idea, it’s pretty rough.

    Joe – The 2009 version of me was in better shape too. Trying to be playful with this one, but I actually do see your point.

    SSW/Bernie – You’re on target here, we made the Replicator 2 for folks who want to make amazing things rather than make a 3D printer. We’re working on making MakerWare easily compatible with Replicator 1. We’ll see if it’s possible to run MakerWare on the TOM after that. The software team has been working absurdly hard to meet this deadline and there is still a lot of cleanup to do. Thanks for being patient.

    Christopher – There is an open hardware definition, but there isn’t a clear business model. Sorry for the orwellian feel, I’m trying to be clear about where we’re at and the challenges we have.

    Dojan – I responded to your email. Thanks for the reminder about folks wanting to be part of the process. Open source isn’t a developer program and we have been so busy building cool stuff that we haven’t done a good enough of a job inviting the community to build with us. We’re going to work on that. I hope we do better because the community we’ve worked so far are smart, clever, and break things faster.

    Jordan – It’s not that we are being pirated or duped. It’s that with our wooden machines, we empowered the making community to innovate. With our current machine, the folks who can really innovate on it, are people with factories who can take the design to a place with a much lower cost of living than Brooklyn and folks there won’t have health insurance and we want to continue to be able to spend money researching and developing awesome tech instead of watch someone else race to the bottom with a carbon copy clone. Part of the cost of a MakerBot goes to pay people for their work pushing the technology farther and exploring the frontier of what’s next.

    Propellerscience – Publishing everywhere is a great plan. One of the reasons I needed Thingiverse is because I kept losing files.

    Stan – Thanks, you totally got what I was trying to say.

    Will – I don’t think that’s a fair characterization.

    Robbie – I’m trying to explain the situation and honestly, I’m also open to feedback.

    PT – Thanks!

    Tim Owens – Thanks for the support. The rumors and hearsay bummed me out and made me feel misunderstood.

    Ezra – I saw your booth in Portland and complimented your employees on your machine. Maker Faire is always crazy, but let’s connect and chat. I’ll plan to swing by your booth.

    Chris – 3D printing is transforming absurdly fast. We were proud of the cupcake and the Thing-O-Matic, but the Replicator 2 kicks both their butts. We really need to find more ways of empowering people to make money with their MakerBot so they can upgrade to the new tech when it comes out!

    Ok, I’m all caught up. I totally know that many people will see this as black and white, but I hope people understand that we are trying to build a special business that shares as much as possible.

    Running a business is pretty stressful and hard, but we are so proud of the machine we just launched and the things that it can make. We couldn’t have gotten this far without the support of the community. Part of our problem is that we’ve been nose to the grindstone making the Replicator 2 and we haven’t spent a lot of time managing the 3D printer making portion of our community. We’re going to try and fix that going forward, but please be patient with us.

  • BobM
    September 20, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    I can see a simple solution here (so it must be more complicated) – serve both markets. If Rep2 is intended for the commerical/industrial user base, fine keep it proprietary. Offer a 2nd open source 3D printer product line for your original customer base of non-professional builders and experimenters. Don’t worry too much that one product line is competing against the other as there is little chance a hobbyist is going to fork over the $2.2K price of Rep2 nor that a pro user would buy a ‘hobby craft’ kit for 1/4 that price.

  • Carl
    September 20, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    It really looks like the MakerBot is going away from open source hardware.

    I am currently working with my present printer, but this one would have been right in my market when I was shopping, however this action would have removed it for me. The only reason I didn’t go MakerBot originally was I didn’t like the plywood, and wanted steel. Further, although I could have built it myself, I wanted my first printer to be pre-built.

    Since I got this printer, I have 2-3 friends I see daily looking at getting one. Two of them saw this today, and told me they would not buy a MakerBot based on this move to closed source. They too want a pre-built system.

    I have heard elsewhere you were looking for feedback, so I came here to give some quick feedback. I hope you gain customers for those you are driving away.

  • Scott
    September 20, 2012 at 11:44 pm

    Perhaps there’s a middle ground where Makerbot can contribute some designs back, but still withhold enough information to stop clones? Honestly, after the Tangibot, at least partially closing up the source could be the right decision. Clones would steal money without contributing anything to the development process. I would rather see Makerbot succeed as a closed source company than see it fail as an open one. Closing the source would give Makerbot the chance to advance 3d printing even more.

  • Eric
    September 21, 2012 at 12:06 am


    I do not own a makerbot yet, but have followed it(Makerbot) for a few months and have looked into it. this is a great tool and with your effort with thingiverse I believe it has brought 3d printing to a new direction. Of course the open source community has some credit, but without you the community and 3d printing wouldn’t have grown the way it has. I agree and think this is a logical step for makerbot and wish nothing but continued success. I am very excited for 3d printing and makerbot, I can’t wait to see what comes next for you and hopefully I will have a makerbot someday. 🙂

    Thanks again and good luck with everything.

  • Matt Maier
    September 21, 2012 at 12:11 am

    This is an excellent discussion. The thing is, I don’t see how anyone loses by Makerbot becoming more successful no matter how they manage to do it. Even going totally closed source would benefit the community if it grows the market. The only we we lose is if grass-roots 3D printing companies go belly-up.

  • Lasivian
    September 21, 2012 at 1:01 am

    “Folks really want a black or white answer, but in my experience, it just doesn’t work that way when combining open source, hardware, and business. There is an open hardware definition, but it’s a far throw from a business model.”

    Actually, part of it is black or white. Either you are violating the GPL of the software you have bundled with Makerware, or you are not. End of story. The hardware aspect is much more murky.

    But I know, I know, it’s probably the VC money talking and not ethics. And the VCs are most likely saying “We’re tired of people duping the products, lock this crap down and we’ll deal with the legal ramifications later.” That’s how just about every other business works.

  • macegr
    September 21, 2012 at 1:24 am

    I only have one small OSHW product; the rest are closed for the most part. However, the open product does quite well, and we’ve only seen small scale clones. Mostly just individuals making an interesting tweak here or there. I’d point to SparkFun and Adafruit as the biggest examples of success, and disagree that they’re focused on educational kits. Building something can be a relaxing pastime, not a classroom activity.

    One thing I’ve learned about the OSHW community, after years of following it with intense interest: the unwritten rules can sink an OSHW business.

    It may be legal, or even morally acceptable to take certain actions, but when you’re heavily involved with the OSHW community you need to pay close attention to how things FEEL.

    These are a highly intelligent, opinionated, and principled people. They will agree with you that their own policies allow you to take your ball and go home.

    But there is more to the OSHW community than just the schematics and CAD files. There is an entire ecosystem of camaraderie, competition, acknowledgement, praise, disagreement, and sharing of resources. This is what makes OSHW projects actually work. And this is what you lose if you slight that community, even though you obey the written rules.

    I hope MakerBot weathers this storm, but it will be a time of hard decisions. You are not the only company in the market of closed source, ready to use desktop 3D printers.

  • Kendall
    September 21, 2012 at 1:36 am

    I have to say first off good job on all that you have accomplished. While for many of us it will be hard for us to see Makerbot slowly close your doors I think it is very understandable. Makerbot has really “set the standard” for 3D printing. I feel like I’ve heard that line before somewhere else. Unfortunately for us, 3D printing is moving way faster than I imagined or maybe you imagined. Makerbot is the 3rd including UP and cubify (eek) company to create a fully-assembled reliable 3d printer( I don’t know how reliable it is but assuming it is).I am going to make an analogy and whenever I make this, people get mad at me for making this comparison. RepRap is like linux, opensource a gazillion different kinds. Makerbot is like the Apple of 3D printing. If we want 3D printing to continue to grow and get into the hands of everybody, we have to make it simpler and streamline the format of it. With the Replicator and its new interface, Makerbot is reaching towards making it more user friendly. Makerbot is really working hard to make people say oh, that’s a 3D printer. If you look at a laptop, you recognize it as a laptop. If you look at a printer. it looks like a printer. Makerbot is making the look for a 3d printer. The UP and Cubify are doing the same but Makerbot had the huge leap because it was Opensource. Now, it may be the time for the end of opensource… Thanks to Tangibot!

  • Frank
    September 21, 2012 at 2:13 am

    A lot a weasel words. “Trying to figure out”. Bah. You know very well what to do to be open. There is nothing to figure out, the rules of that game haven’t changed. But what you want is to have the cake and eat it. You want to leach the work of the open community, you no longer want to give, but only take, and you are desperately looking for a pacifier to give to the community so they shut up and continue to work for you for free.

    You have already started to lie to us. For that weasel behavior alone you deserve to be shunned by the community. For me you are already no longer part of the community.

  • Andy Mc
    September 21, 2012 at 2:37 am

    A 557 word answer on weather the Replicator 2 is open source and not a single, definitive, yes or no answer is a long way of trying to say that Yes, Replicator 2 is closed source. That much effort to avoid answering the question, when all the community wants is a straight answer means that you don’t want to come clean and admit you’ve jumped the fence into the closed source camp. Which is sad. If you came out and said, “Sorry guys we’ve had to do this due to x, y and z” and were honest about it then people would understand. They would be hurt, especially considering how much makerbot has profited from RepRap, but they would eventually get over it. Just be honest, hold your hands up and give a direct answer. That is all anyone wants. Not lots of waffle.

    Bre, you also point out that you wish there were more examples of “large, successful open hardware companies”. Did you forget about Arduino? I personally would argue that Arduino is a larger open source hardware company than Makerbot is and possibly will ever be. Just take a look at how much their products are cloned on places like eBay and how many derivatives / Arduino-a-likes have popped up. So far I’ve yet to see them complain about it and they are still making new open hardware. I guess the difference is that they didn’t get a substantial VC investment.

  • Joe
    September 21, 2012 at 3:47 am

    This has happened many, many times throughout open sources history. The same old story. Open source product. Gets money/funded somehow, grows beyond expectations. Changes rules. Community abandons it. Dies.

    Surely you realise this.

    A sad day. Look at the history. This happens again and again. Do you want to look back and regret it?

    However, I think it might already be too late – just today, I had two colleagues at the local makerspace absolutely badmouthing makerbot, and vowing never to buy another one.

    My advice: resist the temptation. Don’t do a “phased” open sourcing. Open source, and quick while you still have a community. Innovate faster than the cloners, and they won’t be able to keep up with you or your scale. The community supports you obviously – look at how little attention that clone on kickstarter got. Trust goes both ways.

    Remember – the only thing all businesses have in common is an end date. Do you want to be remembered as a sell out or a community champion? Having advocates selling your products for is your only competitive advantage – please keep it.

  • CB
    September 21, 2012 at 4:22 am

    I noticed my last comment is still awaiting moderation….. even though others have been approved since,
    I am in Australia looking to resell this printer, although I’m starting to have second thoughts given some of the reactions of the reprap community sofar

    if my comment is too un palletable for public viewing, feel free to email me instead

  • Eric
    September 21, 2012 at 4:28 am

    As much as I realize that the race to the bottom isn’t healthy for either the company or the consumer, I fear that you are purposely pricing the Replicator 2 out of the reach of the hobbyist/maker and targeting professional and business users instead. I’ve been putting a bit of cash aside each month for a little over a year to be able to purchase a Replicator come December, but I honestly don’t see myself making that purchase now. I simply don’t feel that MakerBot considers me (a hobbyist/maker type) your target market anymore and your future product development and general operation will cater to professionals instead. Please explain to me why I’m wrong and how I can be assured that we are not becoming second class MakerBot citizens…

  • Timothy
    September 21, 2012 at 4:47 am

    Open hardware has the advantage of being manufactured. And manufacturing on the large scale is done in lots. Can you not leave the hardware open source, but patent like hell. And only license those patents freely for lots of 100 or less? I would be happy wit that. Then other firms wanting to use your patents and build off your printer, would pay you for that. And the rest of us would be able to coexist with you in an active and sharing open community.

  • Timothy
    September 21, 2012 at 4:53 am

    With such a business model, being open source would actually help you, by making it easier for people and companies to use your patents. And thus bringing you in even more licensing fees from the big fish that produce lots of > 100.

  • Nick Taylor
    September 21, 2012 at 5:27 am

    $10M + Tangibot = “more professional business”

    Ah, the insidious embrace of monopoly rents… flowing hand to hand, from one lender/landlord to the next.

  • mnt
    September 21, 2012 at 6:39 am

    The legal terms of thingiverse scare me non the less.

    From now on i will publish all my stl/scad files somewhere else and only link there from thingiverse until there is an alternative with terms a normal user can understand and support.

  • Mike
    September 21, 2012 at 7:03 am

    OSHW is a double edged sword. Adafruit and Arduino are just a couple OSHW companies that have been successful.

    As someone who bought a ToM – I’m very disappointed in the direction the company is heading. Not more than a month after I got my ToM was the replicator announced (and I would have bought one of those). Now don’t get me wrong. I’m happy with my ToM – but since the “software” support has essentially been dropped in favor of supporting only Replicator 1 & 2 I feel kicked to the curb…with no upgrade path.

    I feel as though you want customer loyalty (much like Apple) but are not being loyal to the customers who helped build the company. Even apple releases software that’s compatible with last years iDevice (be it an iPod or an iMac)…but Makerbot has treated me like a rotten stepchild even though my printer is less than a year old?

    Sure the software is built on the back of OpenSource – and if I had the time I could figure out how to built it and make it compatible with my ToM – but I don’t have that time. It’s the same reason I went with MakerBot over building a RepRap or other DIY printer. Like the apple products I own I wanted something I knew would “just work”…but to not get the new “software” that’s compatible with the ToM – I just feel kicked to the curb.

  • Issac
    September 21, 2012 at 7:42 am

    > With our current machine, the folks who can really innovate on it, are people with factories who can take the design to [China] and we want to continue to be able to spend money [on R&D] instead of watch someone else race to the bottom with a carbon copy clone.

    I think I most everyone understands your motivations. For me, at least, they were never in question. What I respectfully feel you’re not understanding is that they’re actually beside the point.

    As someone on the other end of things, I feel disrespected by your assumption that I’ll buy whatever crap is the cheapest instead of choosing to spend more on quality and on authenticity. It’s important to me to feel like my money is going to people who deserve it; to originators rather than merely purveyors.

    As keeps coming up, products like Makerbot’s incorporate the benefits of uncountable hobbyist development and testing hours, both indirectly as you benefit from prior and parallel efforts such as RepRap, and directly as you get feedback from people working with your own designs. Those hobbyists don’t get any portion of your profits or celebrity. What they do get – or have gotten – is access to the latest designs, both hardware and software. Many of them won’t make any use of that, sure. Many of them can’t, as you say. But some do, and for many others, it’s a matter of principle. That principle – that feeling of respect, inclusion, and potential – is both central and fundamental to the OSHW community.

    The shift in business models being discussed changes your relationship with the community entirely. The community is downgraded to “customers.” I know, you say you’ll share as much as possible. But many closed source companies share *something*. They are seen as contributing to the community, but they certainly aren’t part of it. The community is based on openness, and that means you can’t decide which bits are unimportant enough to share.

    For many, this change will make what you see as a “cheap knockoff” into a more-or-less equivalent – and for the hobbyist on a budget, potentially superior – choice. For me, it will ensure that my play money will go elsewhere – to a purely OSHW company.

  • Jan Wildeboer
    September 21, 2012 at 7:51 am

    The other topic however has neither been mentioned nor answered – patents.

    We see that Makerbot has a patent on the conveyor belt print approach. AFAICS with priority date August 2009 as it was filed in August 2009.

    As there is no clear license on the patent AFAICS it could leave anyone with a belt system in state of infringement.

    What are Makerbot’s plans aroudn patents? Do you plan to offer a license just like Red Hat does with its patent promise? A non-assertion statement to all Open Source/Hardware users of the patented “technology”?

    Give the sorry state of the patent system – why does Makerbot Industries file patents at all? Wouldn’t it be sufficient to publish the works to make sure it is included as prior art should any patent troll wish to file a similar patent?

    Where is Makerbot Industries Patent Policy? Why was the patent filed without telling the community about it? What are the future plans for patents at Makerbot Industries?


  • Brandon
    September 21, 2012 at 8:41 am

    Open hardware gives people the ability to copy a design and make improvements, and making it less expensive is an improvement.

    The Arduino is copied constantly yet is still going strong, and unlike makerbot they stick to the principles of open hardware and software.

    We were about to buy a batch of makerbots for a lab, but with this news and your inability to give a straight answer I’m going to kill that and go with something that is actually open.

  • Fred
    September 21, 2012 at 9:15 am

    You are either open source or your are not. So pick an be judged accordingly.

  • Rick Kimball
    September 21, 2012 at 9:24 am

    Inspired by your early idealist vision I bought one of the early cupcuke makerbots. I invested in your company and knew that my machine would be quickly become outdated. I wanted makerbot to succeed. I wanted people to contribute to this opensource movement and collectively produce excellence not attainable by one small company by themselves.

    Your new less than idealist venture capitalist makerbot makes me sad. It makes me not want to contribute anything to opensource projects in fear that someone motivated by money will take the fruits of my labor and others and package it up as an MBA class project to show how stupid the 99 percent is and use it to highlight how you the smart the one percent can profit from their idealistic stupidity.

    I’m no longer a makerbot fan.

  • Rockish
    September 21, 2012 at 9:29 am

    The waters were tested with the Mix Tape product released over the summer. No source for the electronics, just a footprint.

    Nobody complained, and that was a big green light that it’s ok to call things “open source” when they aren’t. Well, almost nobody, I recall seeing a comment on the makerbot blog post about mix tape lamenting that it wasn’t open, but it’s since been deleted. Closed source leads to lack of transparency leads to censorship leads to yet another corporate entity silencing ideas and the sharing of information.

  • Nanners
    September 21, 2012 at 9:31 am

    I’m behind you guys, you’ve always done right by me. I’m a ToM owner, and I got it just before the replicator was announced. I don’t feel left out in the cold, or disfranchised. I have a great 3d printer that I put together myself and that works great. Sure I don’t have the latest ReplicatorG build or makerware, but I have a machine that I can feed 3d files and it gives me plastic parts. I’ve been able to print custom adaptive aids for my Mom’s special needs preschoolers. I’ve been able to print 3d maps for the PA council of the blind to aid people navigating. I never would have build a reprap or designed a printer myself, I don’t have the time or energy. So if you’re not open source, f*** it. You’ve enabled me to help people in a way I never could have before. So thank you.


  • Bre Pettis
    September 21, 2012 at 9:47 am

    Jrspruit – The fact that the people who can benefit from us sharing all of our files are not the users, but the cloners is one of the issues we face. We’ve shifted the product into the realm of things that are really only practical for competitive manufacturers who are not motivated to spend money improving the technology, since we’ve already spent millions of dollars doing that. I’m not saying we’ve done this without the support of the community, but I am saying that for us to compete in this new market, we have to speak at least one of the unspoken rules of open source out loud.

    Steve – “Regardless of your decision, I truly hope you would find a business model that does not only depend on your hardware as anyone would tell you hardware has a limited time expiration in the modern world.” I hear you here. Another challenge for us to deal with as a hardware focused company. I pride myself on taking good advice and this is good advice.

    BobM – Your point about price is very relevant.

    Carl – We aren’t trying to drive away customers, we have released a new model that we’re very proud of and we’re trying to build a sustainable business around it.

    Scott – A solution where we can share, but avoid losing our jobs to carbon copy clones is exactly what we are striving for, thanks!

    Eric – Our biggest customers for the first two MakerBots were developers. We then buckled down and worked really hard to make a machine for everyone else. We look forward to intentionally bringing developers back into the fold again.

    Matt – I think that some folks don’t realize that since the original Replicator, we’ve started competing with billion dollar companies with arsenals of weapons that make depending on the open source hardware unspoken rules feel like a vulnerable position. Do I love this community and want to support it? Yes, but competing outside the hobbyist market with big companies is going to be one of our biggest challenges. I think that what you said is a very important point: “This is an excellent discussion. The thing is, I don’t see how anyone loses by Makerbot becoming more successful no matter how they manage to do it. Even going totally closed source would benefit the community if it grows the market. The only we we lose is if grass-roots 3D printing companies go belly-up.”

    Lasivian – It’s important to me that we are not violating the licenses of the software. In regards to VC funds, MakerBot does have a duty to do it’s best to create value for it’s shareholders, that’s part of startup life. But it’s not just the VCs, angel, and seed investors, it’s also the employees of MakerBot that get value from the company. I’ll be the first to say that hardware, open source, and investment are a messy bunch of ingredients to stir up, but we’re going to do our best to make it work.

    Macegr – Yes, the folks who break the unwritten rules of open are a major threat to building a business and sharing everything as you go. I agree that we are now squarely in the world of big competitors who are entirely closed, but we are also in the world where there have been 30-40 kickstarted projects making inexpensive hobbyist 3D printers so there is intense competition from all sides. Good for the consumer, but challenging to navigate as a business. We’ve decided to focus on making the best 3D printer we can and making the experience easy and fun so that the people who buy MakerBot Replicator 2s can change the world by being able to easily make anything. I feel like that is the best bet we can make.

    Kendall – Yeah, we’re on an aggressive path to make this technology accessible to everyone. I’m planning for MakerBot to continue to grow towards being a platform that anyone can use to make their own business. It may seem corny to some, but at it’s core, a MakerBot is a machine for innovation. I expect great things of our customers, even greater things now that folks will be able to use the Replicator 2. Tangibot was a real eye opener for us and even though that project wasn’t successful, it gave us a lot of insight into the manufacturers that are coming down the road who will copy MakerBot because we may make it easy for them. That experience pointed to the dangers of building a business based on a culture of sharing without speaking aloud some of the unspoken rules of open source hardware.

    Frank – Being open and being a successful business are not as easy as just being open. I strongly disagree with your characterization of both me and MakerBot.

    Andy – I will always love Arduino, but you’re right Arduino is an important example. I’m curious to see how the closed Raspberry Pi, closed hardware which has already sold more than 350k boards, effects their business. You are right that Venture capital and scale are both important differences between MakerBot and Arduino. MakerBot is a startup and Arduino is a very organically grown business. Organically grown businesses are better in many ways. Because we chose to develop fast and have big competitors, we decided to take investment to bring this technology to people who will use it to do amazing things. Taking investment adds another layer to the business, but has allowed us to grow and make the awesome machine we launched this week.

    Joe – I really don’t want MakerBot to die and I don’t intend on abandoning the community. Again, I feel strongly that one of the mistakes we have made is thinking being open source hardware would replace having a developer program. We’re working on that. The cloners are getting better and faster and are ignoring the unspoken rules of open source hardware. We can’t depend on being able to innovate faster anymore. Our community has changed over the years from mostly developers to mostly people who just want to use the thing as a product instead of a project, we intend to support both parts of our community, the developers and the users. I agree that having advocates is a great competitive advantage.

    CB – Ok, will see what’s going on with your comment and email if appropriate.

    Eric – We priced the MakerBot Replicator so that we could afford to pay employees, offer health insurance, grow and innovate.

    Timothy – We actually got a patent on a the ABP which turned out to not be interesting to anyone but us. Patenting is on the table and I agree that it would provide a licensing structure to innovate with the community. I would love to hear more examples of companies that have done this successfully. We will need to come up with a patent policy that doesn’t suck. Would love for the community to point to policies that they respect. I have a feeling people are going to flip about this, but we live in the patent system as a business. The core technology of what we do is in the public domain because of expired patents. We have had to spend a lot of money with patent attorneys making sure we don’t infringe on the vast array of patents in the 3D printing space. This really deserves it’s own post and you’re right, we should have done a better job sharing this. Frankly, we’re uncomfortable with it and if we keep going in this direction, we’ll have to do a better job of explaining it.

    (I feel a pretty hardcore flame war coming on in regard to patents, try to stay respectful folks)

    Nick – I’m not sure I get your drift.

    Mnt – Legalese is scary, we’re going to work on making it more understandable. I don’t think many folks have been in a company that has doubled twice in the last year. It’s intense. Lots of work gets done, but not everything can get done right away because even though I feel 150 employees is big, we have competitors that have 10X as many employees and have many more resources. Legalese was on the bottom of our list and we only did it when we realized we had to. Now we have to make it better.

    Mike – Making the new software compatible with the ToM is something on our list! I wish we could have released the Replicator 2 instead of the ToM, but the ToM was our best effort at the time and many still use those previous generation machines to do awesome things.

    Isaac – I think you are right about the feeling of inclusion being one of the invisible strengths of developing and sharing things in the open. One of the hard parts of adding business to the equation is that it’s not always possible. After the cupcake, we put rough plans up on the SVN and the community got excited and we stopped selling machines. I didn’t pay rent that month and we had to switch to developing products behind the curtain. Open projects that don’t have to support employees can be much more open in the development stage. I agree that businesses that share are more valuable than those that don’t. We’re going to try and ride that line as hard as we can without sacrificing our livelihoods to it.

    Jan – As I said in a previous response, patents are on the table. At this moment, as far as I can tell, nobody really cares about the automated build platform, so it’s irrelevant. Can you point me to patent policies that you respect? It’s something we will need to do right and you’re right, we should have addressed it. One of the hard things about pushing so fast as a small but growing company is that we don’t get to do everything we want to do at the same time. We just launched 4 things and as I’ve referenced before, we have some catchup to do to create a developer program. If we have to get our hands dirty with patents we’ll have to come up with a way of licensing them in a way that doesn’t suck.

    Brandon – Again, we’re going to be as open as we can and still have a business, I wish your lab the best. We’ve seen 3D printing technology change the way that labs do things and make innovation happen must better.

    Ok, another marathon comment! I have get moving now and get to work! Thanks to everyone who is commenting. This conversation is very valuable and your participation helps us and other folks who build open businesses navigate the challenges that are on the horizon.

  • Todd
    September 21, 2012 at 10:03 am

    Bre, best of luck as you work to cross the chasm. Having employees is hard and I know you don’t want to have to fire your friends.

    What I’d really like to see is a list of what “as possible” could possibly include. My main interest is in MakerWare. I have no problem plugging into a black box, as long as I know my skill set will be portable, and I can choose to upgrade to a different black box down the line (or build my own, etc).

  • Adrian Bowyer
    September 21, 2012 at 10:19 am

    A number of people have asked me what my opinion is on all this, and this seems an appropriate place to set it down.

    First, declarations of interest: as most people know, I was one of those who put up the initial money for MakerBot when it branched off from RepRap. As a consequence I own a very small percentage of the company. That percentage gives me no say in how the company is run, nor access to any prior information about any of its actions or intentions before they are made public. I also own a much larger percentage of one of the RepRap companies, RepRap Professional Ltd.. RepRap Professional Ltd. is a completely open-source company, and will always be so.

    What follows is a re-statement of something that I originally wrote here.

    My purpose in this comment is to set out why RepRap is, and always will be, Open Source and how this relates to MakerBot in the real world. The real world is the world of biology and physics. In the real world hard things happen (as opposed to the soft happenings in the world of legal, corporate and financial froth).

    Eccentrically, given that purpose, I shall start with a completely irrelevant fact: I think that Open Source is a good thing. If I ruled the world (which, fortunately for the world and – more importantly – fortunately for me, I don’t), all engineering projects from the writing of bank software to the construction of nuclear power stations would be run in an Open Source way. Given my approval of Open Source, you might imagine that that was the reason that I chose it for RepRap.

    Not so.

    Even if I thought that Open Source was an evil pinko conspiracy to undermine capitalism, to destroy healthy competition, and to usurp the perfect system of intellectual property rights given to humanity for all time by God when he wrote them on stone tablets at Mount Sinai, I would still have made RepRap Open Source.

    The good moral and political arguments for Open Source are inconsequential as far as RepRap is concerned, and RepRap is not Open Source because of them.

    Remember that RepRap is not about 3D printing. It is about self-replication. The purpose of the RepRap Project is to make a useful self-replicating machine. We just happen to be using 3D printing to do that, because it is currently the most appropriate technology to achieve our ends. But we could equally imagine a self-replicating laser-cutter. Indeed, many people on the RepRap Project are also working on precisely that.

    Ask yourself: which will be the more numerous 3D printer (or laser cutter): one that can self-replicate, or one that has to be made in a conventional factory?

    Then ask yourself: which will be the more numerous self-replicator: one for which all the plans are freely available, or one for which the plans are hidden?

    RepRap is Open Source because Darwinian game-theoretic analysis says that Open Source is an evolutionarily-stable strategy for a useful replicating machine that is intended to maximise its numbers in the world. This is a completely amoral fact, and it is the reason that I made RepRap Open Source. RepRap is Open Source because that strategy must out-compete closed-source systems in reproductive fitness.

    Some of you may think that I am rather lax in my pursuit of those people who would appropriate RepRap technology and close it off, thereby breaking the terms of the GPL. The reason that I am lax (and I am) is because I don’t care about those people. I don’t care about them because I know that by closing off the path that they have chosen, they have turned it into a reproductive cul de sac; they have made their machine sterile.

    If I am lax, others may be more attentive. This comment is in no way intended to instruct, or even to request, others to act or to see things as I do. In particular, RepRap developers retain the copyright in their own developments, and may wish to enforce licencing with more rigour than I. Go to it, I say. I merely started this project and (mostly indirectly) all the companies that have flowed from it; I would be alarmed and upset if I were to find my subsequent actions (or lack of them) taken as a prescriptive model.


    Every RepRap can make RepRaps. Also, every closed-source 3D printer, and every non-replicating 3D printer such as a MakerBot, can make RepRaps. But RepRap won’t make any of them. The exponential mathematics of the RepRap population against the rest follows inexorably. Chasing licence infringers will make almost no difference.

    If you are taking part in the RepRap project, then I hope that you believe Open Source to be a morally and politically good thing, as I do. But if you don’t believe that, you are still welcome to take part, by me at least. When it comes to the success or failure of RepRap, moral beliefs, legal constraints and the flow of money are almost completely irrelevant.

    It is the evolutionary game theory that matters.

  • Ben Combee
    September 21, 2012 at 10:27 am

    Bre, it’s a tough thing figuring out a business model. I’ve been following Makerbot as a friend since you guys got started at Resistor, and I’m really impressed with how the organization has grown and the products improved.

    There’s a world of difference between a laser-cut wood assembly and one stamped out with precision metal cutting tools. One’s something you can share on Thingiverse and people can replicate, the other requires significant investment in tooling and/or relationships with suppliers.

    There’s a big difference between a controller board with high-powered Arduino running separate motor controls and a integrated, many-layer, high-powered ARM-based controller with multiple sensors and IP that might come from the chip makers and can’t be disclosed due to supply contracts.

    I’ve been on lots of sides of this. At Palm, I’ve witnessed the kind of manufacturing knowledge needed to get high-volume consumer products made, and the ways that something ends up not just being owned by the “producer on the box”, but actually with designs tied up with manufacturing partners.

    You guys are ambitious. Your original market was the random hobbyist comfortable with two days of assembly work to get a working printer, but now you’re moving into a phase where you want to reach much more people, many of whom aren’t technically minded.

    I could see a model working where what you share is essentially the core of the 3D printer. Provide design files so people can understand how it works and build improvements, basically all that information that gives the great hooks that open source hardware & software is known for. Have your engineers continue to work with the community, publishing information about their own explorations and findings. Weather the mess that will come when someone can’t 100% replicate a Replicator, but hope that people will be able to build alternatives using the core understandings made by building the device.

    Chumby didn’t fail because they opened their designs. They failed due to having a product in a niche that just didn’t have the growth that investors wanted, and in a niche that got supplemented quickly by improved smartphones and tablets. The open source bits ultimately didn’t matter to the market, but probably gave them a lot more life as a hacker platform than they would have had otherwise. I’ve super awesome that I can download Bunny’s schematics and see where the signals go and what all the test points do. Would I go and try to source all those pieces and make my own Chumby board? Hell no! It’s too complicated to manufacture, and by the time the products came out, many of the parts were already hard to find on the market due to product cycles in the semiconductor world.

    Anyway, good luck. You’ve got my support.

  • Matt C
    September 21, 2012 at 11:55 am

    You say “as open as possible” quite a bit; so here’s a quick reminder:

    “As open as possible” == “100% open” (not “a billion percent open”, by the way)

    What is *possible* can come down only if there are assumptions you’re unwilling to let go of, such as:
    -MBI must have 150 employees
    -MBI must last forever, and/or get bigger/wealthier as time goes on

    Perhaps these goals further you mission in life (“to be able to develop infrastructure that lets humans be creative”) but are they *essential* to it? *Absolutely* essential? At what cost? Going from 100% to 99.3% or 91%?

    As a sidenote, neither of these absolutely caps the possibility at less than 100%.

    As another side note, the “billion percent open” rhetoric disturbs me. Has anyone asked that you be a billion perecent open?

  • Josef Prusa
    September 21, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    Do I troll, YES or NO?

    I’m working that out and I am going to be as non-troll as I possible can while building a sustainable information feed

  • John Casey
    September 21, 2012 at 12:48 pm


  • Jonathan Dahan
    September 21, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    So to summarize:

    Question 1: Is the MakerBot Replicator 2 Open Source?

    No, but we have been the poster child for open source hardware company success for a while. We will legally comply with whatever licenses we must. Can you show me an example of anyone of comparable size who has done better?

    Question 2: Did Thingiverse terms of use change to “steal” people’s things.

    No, the terms of service are the same as they were since February. They are meant to protect and expand the brand, for example to sell printed things in a new store in Noho. We could word the ToS better though, and will in the future.

  • Joshua
    September 21, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    Bre – I fully agree that the true challenge is how to “transform the world and bring manufacturing to every desktop…to solve the challenges of tomorrow with this technology”, but it is not for jobs. The concept of jobs insinuates working for someone else, which no one really wants because no matter how good our intentions as employers the relationship is predatory by design. In general, people just want to support their families in a dignified way — ideally while pursuing their passions. There is of course plenty of work to do – the power and the beauty of open-source distributed manufacturing is that there is a relatively clear path we are following where the need to for jobs becomes much less important than it is today. The real value that has already been created and shared on Thingiverse is staggering. If the free and open-source sharing culture continues and spreads to all areas of production, then we might really have a transformed world. Why? Because the open-source sharing will simply out compete anything a closed company can ever hope to do. This all really just became a real possibility in our lifetime as the technology matured. This would give everyone more time to spend creating as their “needed job-hours/week” decrease — as they are able to generate value for themselves without having to sell their time. Perhaps that is a bit old-school hard-core Jeffersonian American thinking – but technically, it is all possible. We just have not got to it yet.

    Closed-source 3D printing just can’t get us there as Adrian points out – you can’t fight that science. I respect you and your colleagues, but if we do a thought experiment we see that if you close down (even ignoring the easy route of cc-by-sa-nc) you will not reach the bigger goal that you share with this community.

    Let’s imagine HP puts a closed-source, heavily patented/lawyered-up $100 3D printer on the market tomorrow that outperforms the MakerBot. The results: you go out of business, 3D printers on every desk, and people get up and go to work to buy closed designs and proprietary overpriced 3D ink. Nothing really changes except perhaps less emissions from shipping products from China. Scaling 3D printers doesn’t matter if it comes via HP or a closed-MakerBot, if people do not have the self-determined option made possible by the explosion of creativity fostered by the open source paradigm.

    You are right open source is not a panacea. What makes it powerful is just not simply access to the code – it is the “bottom up innovation … with collaboration among a trusted network of people who love to solve problems and work together”. That is what you built up with Thingiverse – and until a few days ago was picking up momentum to steamroll the tired “business models” of the old economy. Now a lot of that momentum is lost, which is unfortunate. I’m sure it will be regained. Hopefully, by you to save time. Make this all right – quickly – if you are in the position to do so.

  • Mark
    September 21, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    I’m sorry to hear about all your troubles, Bre. This week was supposed to be an exciting week where everyone was interviewing you about the innovations you made and the new direction you’re taking. I’m sure there are people excited about the new machine, they’re just not as loud as others.

    I started in 3D printing with a Cupcake. It was a good little machine, and I was sad when the electronics died and I couldn’t get a replacement. But in that time, I got exposed to the idea that we don’t have to settle for being consumers. This isn’t (as much of) a “love it or leave it,” consumer-driven world anymore. If something isn’t perfect, we get to make it better. Your printer inspired me to do this, and I thank you for it.

    I’ve now migrated over to the Reprap because it was cheaper than your newer models, but it’s far from perfect, too. I’ve redesigned several parts for my own use (we don’t really need another X carriage in the world) and I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, but the thing still doesn’t work like it should. I on’t have end stops. I can’t get them to work, so I roll the nozzle down to the build plate like I used to on the Cupcake. It works for me. But this was only after days and days of frustration (including a time where it all went back in the box and I thought about giving up 3D printing for a month or two) If I could have afforded a fully-assembled, tested and working machine, I would have gone that route. To make the Reprap work, I had to learn the Arduino language and a lot about stepper motors, when all I really wanted to do was design little gadgets and give them to people.

    To make the Replicator 2 work, I need to download the software. Thanks for that.

  • Vik Olliver
    September 21, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    I concurr with Adrian’s analysis, and it was our intent all along that an Open design would evolve to work around artificial restrictions. We’ve gone way past the point where Microsoft-like monoliths can hijack the project, even if they want to. Any effort spend in chasing miscreants is better spent on improving the design – do not fight Closed derrivatves, just make them obsolete. A company that invests in a closed design at this stage has an instant legacy issue, and a limit on the directon of future work. They will either come right and open up as they see themselves being overtaken, or fade away into insignificance.

    Vik :v)

  • j.pickens
    September 21, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    Thanks for the interaction here.
    I don’t see anything wrong with your possibly delivering a closed source replicator2, at least as far as preventing cloning. You gotta buy groceries, after all.

    For my two cents, I’ll offer the following:

    1. Yes, as much as possible, allow for software upgrades to your TOM and Replicator1. I’d really appreciate a better workflow and control system for my TOM.
    I upgraded to the Jetty firmware and added the remote control, and that has helped greatly, but there is still a gap between design and plastic extrusion which makes for a difficult process.

    2. Even if you make major aspects of the Rep2 closed source, consider releasing key mechanical specs. of parts which may be improved by the community. I would be MUCH more likely to upgrade to the Rep2 if I know that most of the mechanical bits are defined in open source so that I can continue to improve the machine.

    3. If you do close up major parts of the Rep2, you now have a much greater responsibility to continue to support the closed bits over time. If, for instance, an electronic board is closed source, and you decide to stop selling it, then anyone with that machine will be SOL when his board fails. Not good.

    4. As someone suggested earlier, open up the files for your machines as they are surpassed by current models, and/or you stop selling and supporting components for the “obsolete” models. See 3. above.

    Thanks again, and good luck with the new machine!

  • EhisforAdam
    September 21, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    Honestly, I commend Bre and MakerBot for going down the path of creating a true consumer product. As much as I loved building my TOM, a company that just makes hobbyist kits and only targets that market is not going to expand a market. The big thing in 3D printing is getting one into every office and on everyone’s desktop. It’s really a revolution in how people buy products, live their lives and express their ideas. We’ve already seen more and more people designing their own things with Google Sketch-Up (which I personally have trouble using, but I’m used to high end CAD packages). I don’t see how a build and source it yourself model is going to work to accomplish that. People certainly don’t want to have to keep taking apart and rebuilding their machines to get the latest improvements, unless it’s their hobby.

    This is George Eastman territory here, that doesn’t happen very often. The things he created brought photography from a complex, difficult hobby and commercial endeavor into everyone’s lives. If the 3D printer community wants to concede the mass market to companies like HP (I’d be hard pressed to believe they or some other printer company isn’t eyeing 3D printing) or existing rapid prototype machine makers, go ahead. I’d much rather be buying something knowing it grew out of this movement and not from outside. In that sense, best thing MakerBot can do it hold onto the community aspect which I think is still perfectly possible. The second most expensive thing a person will likely ever purchase is an automobile. That is certainly a rigidly closed source industry, but it doesn’t stop people from tweaking their cars and making them better. I think MakerBot can encourage that aspect of their business while still protecting their bottom line and offering a product for the masses.

  • Will
    September 21, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    There’s cool new technology in Rep 2, and it permits an awesome quality level of output at a very reasonable price. Very very likely, MBI has licensed that technology from companies that hold patents for it, and while MBI can advocate for open sourcing everything, it is ultimately outside their control. (And then again, maybe we’ll all luck out and everything _will_ be open sourced.)

    One could quibble about the GPL, but Prof. Bowyer, the copyright holder in this case, has been gracious enough to weigh in and (perhaps unenthusiastically) offer his approval. Insofar as the Rep 2 draws more people into the world of affordable 3D printing, he’ll probably find himself with more RepRap enthusiasts when the dust settles.

    What options does MBI have? (1) Not sell the Rep 2 because it’s not open source enough. (2) Sell the Rep 2 and open source as much as they can. Looking at the price and quality, I myself prefer that they should sell it, and in 20 years, we can all toast the expiration of those patents.

  • Generator
    September 21, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Dear MakerBot guys, while I may not have identified with you at any given time, it indeed is quite sad to see you go the way of closing source. Is is so absolutely necessary to protect your business?
    You have released open source hardware in the past which was well received in the community, so why not keep the older models around some longer?
    From what I read, another concern seems to be the high starting price. It irks me that with each iteration, the prices go up, with the previous generation being dropped from the line-up. How is this going to “bring 3D printing to everyone” as you like to claim?
    Would it be so problematic to continue selling a cheaper, open source printer while also offering a (closed(?)) “professional” solution?
    Then again, looking at your customer list (who couldn’t care less about sourceyness), you might not even be dependent on the makers and hobbyists (anymore). After all, the big profit is in supplying the heavy-weight companies and institutions with a comparatively cheap (compared to other professional printers) solution, right?
    Sorry if I come off as too cynical in the end.

  • Zomboe
    September 21, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    This is a really interesting discussion and I’m happy to see Bre’s long responses.

    It is a lot of information to digest but the impression I am getting is that Makerbot has sort of painted themselves into a corner. Their shift away from the hobbyist market has been in progress for years now, as the price of their machines (and filament) has steadily increased. The Cupcake was one of the first RepStrap kits that was readily available at an affordable price ($750?), and for that reason alone it was very successful (or at least very popular). But competition quickly sprang up and Makerbot’s strategy seems to be to move to continually “upscale” machines and extensive marketing. To be honest I’m not even sure what advantage Makerbot could even offer the hobbyist market. I think others are in a better position to offer a capable, reliable, and above all cheap printer for the “low end” market.

    But at the same time, I think Makerbot has jumped the gun. How big is the market, really, for a “high end” $2,200 3D printer? As others have said, at that point your best hope is to target companies and schools, not individuals. At that point, you are competing with the really huge companies and that seems like a very hard fight. Makerbot’s greatest asset is probably its name recognition and reputation, but those have now taken a hit. I guess it’s just a gamble that the new market (that doesn’t care about OSHW) is larger and more profitable than the old one.

    It seems like this rush to a new market is driven by the need to keep growing the company at a high rate. I really wonder if this was the intention all along, or if things just happened to work out like this. Was it not an option to make this transition more gradually, such as by releasing a cheaper maker/hacker open source 3D printer kit alongside the Replicator 2, with huge warnings about the work needed for assembly? Or would people just compare the prices and end up disappointed…

    I want to add that it is currently hard to make the case for widespread adoption of 3D printing (at this level) as anything more than a fun hobby. At this point the hardware is becoming quite capable but the applications are still limited. I think empowering creativity is the best use (so far), but that’s currently harder than it needs to be.

    Bre, if you truly want to reach a larger (consumer) audience, you need to look at the entire 3D printing process, from creating a design to holding it in your hands. Basically, you need to work on software. The Makerware software is a great step in the right direction. But what the world really needs is free (or very cheap… bundle it with your hardware), easy to use, polished design software, especially intended for creating 3D printed objects. Provide templates or modules to allow quick and easy customization of popular categories, such as action figures or jewelry.

    Along with that, I would suggest focusing more resources on improving Thingiverse. It is an incredible resource but I feel like it is isn’t living up to its potential. I’d have to say that Thingiverse is your greatest contribution to the community (possibly because I don’t own a Makerbot) and still something to be proud of.

    Since it seems like the Replicator 2 is completely standardized (even down to type of filament), it is a good opportunity to streamline Thingiverse use for new Replicator 2 owners. Provide some kind of “Certified compatible with Replicator 2” tag or sticker, and a direct build file (like G-code or equivalent) to provide essentially 1 click printing. You could even provide a section on Thingiverse (or a spinoff site) dedicated to your own printers.

    Anyway, it will be very interesting to see where things go from here. I agree with a previous poster that Makerbot is sort of like the Apple of 3D printing. I think they have their work cut out for them in trying to create and capture a new market. I hope that others will spring up to fill the gap that Makerbot has left in the hobbyist community. Thingiverse could definitely use some (friendly) competition!

  • Carl
    September 21, 2012 at 6:52 pm


    Thanks for responding, to your statement, “We aren’t trying to drive away customers, we have released a new model that we’re very proud of and we’re trying to build a sustainable business around it.”

    You aren’t just the future, you are the past also. Many people heard your push for OSHW, and supported your company along the way. To turn from that so drastically takes your company from one of the good ones you spend money with, to a small company that is much more risk than other closed companies. You burn your base.

    Now, 3D printing is still young, there are still only a few people out there with these things in their homes, fewer still with them in their businesses. Those with them are known in their community of friends, and when a new person seeks to enter those realms, the search out the pioneers for opinions, leasons learned, etc.

    So, I look at all the printers on the market, and I watch them, there are a lot of them hitting. As you say, some of the big boys in business are starting to see this. 3D printing is at the first peak of Gartner’s Hype Cycle “Peak of Inflated Expectations”, which is where a lot of businesses get into the market. In the next few years we will hit the “Trough of Disillusionment” before really growing a market in the 5yr timeframe.

    So, if this technology follows others, there are a few rough years ahead. To me, this is not a good time to alienate customers and supporters. To me, right now, anyone asking me about 3D printers would get a big caution if they were thinking about buying from MBI. There will be others hitting the market with solid performance, usability, and a larger organization behind them, there will be good polished machines that are cheaper and open. The next few years will be a virtual festival of products, since it is the hyped market segment.

    Given all of this, why should I recommend anyone buy from MBI when you have changed your open stance so hard? How is that not driving potential customers away?

  • RichBeck
    September 21, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    Holy cow, Batman! What an incredible outpouring of feelings, opinions, and some other stuff. Bre…thanks for being so thoroughly responsive.

    My view, if MB wants to be able to fund the business and improvements they need to fund, they cannot afford to continue to make their designs entirely or maybe even partially open source. Just do a search on Alibaba and you’ll see why. Thingimatic and Replicator clones are readily available from Chinese manufacturers at much lower prices ($900 FOB China) than Makerbot sells for . That’s what can happen when you don’t have to worry about developing anything and can count on someone else in the US doing the heavy lifting and then use your Chinese sweatshop to legally undercut the “knowledge creator” who gave away the info. I don’t think MB sees hobbyists building there own printers as threats, but they have no way of saying its open source for you (hobbyists) but not them (Chinese factories).

    Bottom line, if we want Makerbot to be a sustainable business they need to make a bunch of money.

  • Carl
    September 21, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    One last thought Bre,

    “At MakerBot, we take open source seriously. It’s a way of life for us. We share our design files when we release a project because we know that it’s important for our users to know that a MakerBot is not a black box. With MakerBot, you get not only a machine that makes things for you, but you also get an education into how the machine works and you can truly own it and have access to all the designs that went into it! When people take designs that are open and they close them, they are creating a dead end where people will not be able to understand their machines and they will not be able to develop on them.”

  • Timothy
    September 21, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    Bre, I cannot think of any companies that have used an opensource+patent license model. But that’s no reason to be dissuaded. You can break the successful companies in this world into two groups. Those which have done something better and those which have done something new. You cannot do OSHW better, or 3D consumer printing better, it’s never been done before! But is that reason to feel anxious? NOT AT ALL! As I said, there are two types of successful company. One type, does something better, and the other type does something new. You are in the situation that you cannot do what you’re doing better than someone else, because you are doing something NEW! That is certainly something to celebrate. Don’t be afraid to innovate!

  • Timothy
    September 21, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    Bre, perhaps I have a better answer for you:

    It is not Open Source Hardware that is new per say. But closed source hardware. If you think about it, 100 years ago, everything was open source. The cars, the steam engines, the bicycles. This was a time when technology was simple enough that simply looking at it, you could see the blue print. You look at a bicycle and you see that it has two wheals, some metal rods, handle bars and a seat. There was a time when every car driver had to know at least how to change the spark plugs and the drive belt. You could open up your car and see inside how it worked. If you look at the manuals old radios and cars and even some of the early computers(the Altair for example) there were even diagrams as to how the device worked from a technical standpoint. Did this make these devices open source? I don’t know the answer to that question.

  • Nils
    September 21, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    I wish every post was as entertaining and enlightening as Adrian’s. You’ve made reading this thread tolerable, possibly even a joy. I wish more commenters could be so eliquent.

    Thanks reprap you’ve brought much joyful tinkering to my life 😉

    Now if I can only get my old gen3 makerbot cupcake with a cable hack talking to the extruder controller with sprinter I’d be set 🙂

  • Matrhint
    September 21, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    You are one of my heroes. I’ve been following your company for a long time. I understood where you were coming from when you made the video about why you and your group started Makerbot. When the Thing-O-Matic came out, I did whatever I could to talk my significant other into letting me get one. Once I did, I put it together in record breaking time so I could get to printing as soon as possible. I watched the CES CNET Best in Show video and had that “super excited nerd” feeling that most people get while watching football and their team gets a touchdown.

    I believe we the people who own your products feel like we are a part of your company. We have always cheered for you because you spoke our language, you knew what we wanted, and it felt like we had a shared vision of a high-tech future.

    With all of that being said, I feel kinda funny about this new printer. On one hand I feel awesome for you; happy that you won’t have people reproducing your baby with their name on it and what you can get out to people a perfect machine without the need of tweaking and running through hours of checking everything in order to get a good print….

    On the other hand, I kinda feel like you are going away from what you originally set out to do—or what I interpreted your intentions to be—either way, I feel like I just got Nintendo Bible Games for Christmas (you know, the “I should feel better about this than I do” feeling).

    Lastly, I feel that your opinions of 3d printers and the makers that you sell to went from the what you said at CES to what Cathy Lewis thought about the technology and its users—like the Radio Shack business model (Radio Shack used to be about hobbyists and designers, now it is about cellphones).

    Your response to everyone’s comments proves to me that you care about what we think—this is important for me (maybe no one else).

    I hope you do well in this transformation of your company. The new machine looks amazing. I wish I could afford one. It is definitely the Mustang of the desktop 3d printers.

    Good luck,
    Matthew Hinton

  • Matrhint
    September 21, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    Oh yeah, congrats on the new store!

  • Rob
    September 21, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    Shouldn’t this be titled “Confirming correct information, with nuance”?.
    I like you and MakerBot, but I’ve got to say you’re weaseling here. There is absolutely a black-and-white answer to the question “Is the MakerBot Replicator 2 Open Source?”. That answer is “No.”
    I understand your reluctance to state that answer clearly. I also understand your reluctance to open your design sufficiently that someone else can take those designs and make a clone. But that’s what open source is. If you’re going to hold back enough to prevent cloning, it’s not open. You can be a company that shares a lot, and maybe I’ll think well of you. But if you want to make open-source hardware, it’s all or nothing. I can take your design and build my own or I can’t.
    I’m not entirely surprised that you find it difficult to operate a business selling open source hardware made in Brooklyn. Unfortunately, I suspect you’ll find it little easier to do so with non-open hardware. I fear the bits you’ll hold back will prove little obstacle to the people with factories who might have found it easy to copy your open designs. They can hire smart engineers that don’t live in Brooklyn far cheaper than you can build factories.
    Frankly, it’s a bit surreal to be telling you, of all people, that you underestimate the value being open. I’d dig up and point you to some eloquent screed on the topic, but I suspect you’d be the author. My guess is that the value of that, just in extra business from the minority who care, is greater than the value of whatever you’ll hold back.
    I’m sure you’re pretty much drowning in unsolicited, uninformed advice on how to run your company from people like me who don’t have to actually do it. But ask yourself why so many people care. Your competitors would pay many times more for that than for whatever closed innovations you’ve got for the R2. Someone will duplicate the innovations anyway, probably soon. The rep will be gone.
    OK, that’s my 2c. If you’re sure this is what you’ve go to do, I’m sad, but wish you luck. If you’re not sure, call up Nate Seidle and get a pep talk or something.

    – Rob Bryan

  • neoteric
    September 21, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    Bre. Here is what you wish you could say out loud:

    “I built a business that included utilizing open source hardware and software.
    I did that very well, probably better than anyone else.
    I had a great philosophy of open source in my business model.
    I built a brand.
    I now have a brand, employees, responsibilities, and shareholders.
    I am now between a rock and a hard place, as being an icon of open source might be dichotomous to protecting my brand, employees, responsibilities and shareholders.
    Nothing I say today is going to make anyone happy, least of all me.”

  • Mike
    September 22, 2012 at 1:05 am
    – Bre Pettis, March 25 2010,

    Mr Pettis, I admire your work. You’re an important figure to multiple communities. However, what you’re saying today isn’t what you said in 2010. Have your views on open source hardware changed? If so, why?

  • kick
    September 22, 2012 at 1:25 am

    Bre and MakerBot PR team. It would be nice to see faces of hard-working people who actually worked on and built the new product, not only Bre’s face ALL THE TIME.

  • smartroad
    September 22, 2012 at 5:34 am

    Its a little unfair to call Sparkfun an educational site. That is part of what they do but it is also to supply products to us hobbyists and pretty much all the products they make themselves are open. I would also say that they are doing exceedingly well if their latest post is to be believed:

    “135 co-workers, 75 million dollars of sales, 600,000 customers and our 431 unpatented products”

    The danger of going closed is that you will spend all your time and effort going after those who have infringed you – rather then spending it making your product great. Take Apple, huge company but the iPhone5 looks like some knockoff of the iPhone4 and then there is Maps… Are Apple now spending to much time in the courtroom with every other mobile manufacturer? Is it affecting their ability to produce great products? Time will tell.

  • Issac
    September 22, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    The 3D printing community is in the process of democratizing the means of production. People who design things for consumption and people who produce instances of those ideas are simply going to have to adapt. Our beliefs and expectations about origination, ownership and value must be recalibrated. In the end, the common man will have been empowered. Just as we’ve seen in other industries, those made inordinately wealthy by the status quo will attempt to extend their shelf life through lobbying, lawsuits and propaganda. There will be hysterical headlines, urgent legislation, and prosecution of business and individuals alike; all the birth pangs of a truly disruptive technology.

    How ironic to see such bitter complaints of “this other group is physically instantiating my idea for cheap, preventing me from making as much money as I feel entitled to” coming from a start-up company at the vanguard of disrupting and democratizing manufacturing..!

    The good news is that this is all happening, regardless of what goes on with Makerbot. You can choose to ride the train or to lie in front of it.

  • SeaGROL
    September 22, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    And the baby has been thrown out with the bathwater.

  • Scott
    September 22, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    Why not bring back the cupcake (or equivalent) for those folks who DO enjoy putting things together with their hands and enjoying the fruits of their creative labor? There’s something to be said about creating something from nothing with your bare hands and then turning around and creating something with THAT. It’s much akin to the software equivalent of building a toolchain (something that is near and dear to my heart as a long time mobile / embedded developer).

    You can offer the cupcake as an affordable alternative to the DIY and hobbyist folks while retaining your premier business with the Replicator 2. I’m sure there is a market for both products. There are plenty of people who just want a “shrink wrap” product that they can unbox and be playing with in hours. Others enjoy the satisfaction (and frustration, because there is always plenty of that) of creating something with their own hands.

    When the cupcake first came out I honestly couldn’t afford the $700, but now I am at a position financially where $700 isn’t out of reach for a “toy”, but the 2k+ price tag this will most likely have will make it way out of reach for a toy or hobby. I would have to justify spending that much money with some kind of monetization or return on my money and a hobby just isn’t going to give me that kind of monetization. Not all of us are upper middle class hipsters living in downtown condos you know ;).

  • kick
    September 22, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    Bre and MakerBot PR team.

    It would be nice to see faces of hard-working people who actually worked on and built the new product, not only Bre’s face all the time

  • Doug Moen
    September 22, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    Hi Bre. We are in the market for an easy to use, reliable 3D printer that “just works” out of the box. Actually, we need several of them to outfit a lab. We’d rather not build these from kits. But: there’s a second requirement. We want the freedom to do our own maintenance and repairs. On the hardware side, that means no technological measures that lock down the hardware and prevent us from doing maintenance (eg, like DRM’ed filament cartridges). On the software side, that means open source software, so that we can debug and fix problems that affect our print jobs. My analogy is the automobile: a consumer grade tool that works out of the box, but you can still open the hood and do your own maintenance.

    I don’t personally care if the Replicator 2 is “open source hardware” or not — most of the tools in our shop probably don’t qualify as such, but we can still repair them when they break. I know from talking to other shops that the flakiest thing about the original Replicator is the software. MakerWare is brand new, it is going to be buggy, and there’s no source available, which means users can’t do their own repairs.

    I hope you can find a way to address these concerns.

  • osfa / commons factory
    September 22, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    Dear Bre,
    fascinating situation and discussion. As many participants in the discussion, i understand the different positions and opinions, and i believe i understand yours.

    However, i am clearly on one of the sides. What i want to say is that for many people, you and the other MakerBot people, were the big heroes, like Richard Stallman, Tim Berners-Lee, some of the early PC pioneers… like Adrian Boyer… People, that at least seen from far away, it seemed like they didn’t want to be “serious professionals” or run companies, but invent a new way of things to happen, challenge the system the way it is supposed to “necessarily” be… Make history in a way. Defy boring reality.

    Lately i have been showing to my students videos of you explaining Open Source… And not only talking the theory of it, but making the actual machines, a successful company… Very inspiring… It makes sense that many people, maybe even including your VC partners, don’t want this to succeed… It is too revolutionary…

    We do have two MakerBots – an early Cupcake and a Replicator -, and when i use them i feel the same way as I do every single time when i open my Linux machine… I feel happy. Because it is Free, and makes me feel free, because it embodies the power of generosity and cooperation and collective ingenuity against business-as-usual, greed, exploitation and so on. A better world. We bought them the MBots because of that. The last one after having been told that there are some Chinese clones… Made us want to buy them much more because of that… I guess if Mbot becomes proprietary we will switch to whatever the OSH community will be making when it comes to it.

    Of course, i think too, that some may feel that in order for many to feel free, some have to work a lot and earn less that they deserve… We do try to contribute to the FLOS/S community. Stallman explains quite well that there are many ways to contribute, and digital fabrication open up even more ways.

    … Arduino, is very successful i would say, but it probably isn’t a business. Probably that’s the reason why it works. But still the guys get along pretty well…

    I wish you a lot of luck and inspiration trying to run MBI in the best direction… I am sure it is hugely difficult right now. It is important for many people. And thanks in any case for everything you have done until now.

    Just a naive commentary from Spain… sorry it can’t be too supportive… needed to write something like this… I believe it is what many people are feeling…

  • Bre Pettis
    September 22, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    Neoteric – You very eloquently said what I wish I could have said in this post. Thank you.

  • hamsterdam
    September 22, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    Bre, thanks for your honest and candid responses, it must be hard to take so much flak from the community. I am also truely grateful to you and MBI for publicising 3d printing to the general public. A few years ago I would only get blank stares when I mentioned it, but now I am often met with excitement. I feel that this change is in a large part thanks to you.

    Like others here, I understand the need to protect the business and employees. It is unfortunate that the origninal OSH goals of the company may be switched to the back burner because of this. However, it is certainly understandable.

    I truely respect your choice to take your time deciding the direction for the MBI. Too often, decisions like this are made quickly because fast decision making is misconstrued as good decision making. It seems that a significant portion of the community wants this, an instant response so that they can get the instant gratification of applying a label to your efforts. Infact, this quick decision making is responsible for many managers not considering all the alternatives and therefore making poor decisions.

    I can certainly see the commercial market for the new model, there are many designers and architects who want to be able to prototype without building and calibrating a kit (I thought I was one of those before I bought my thing-o-matic, but I have loved the experience). The Replicator II is considerably cheaper than models with similar capabilities from stratasys and 3D Systems so I can see it being a great success in those markets. However, I hope that you continue to sell an opensource alternative that the community can contribute to and gain from.

    Please take your time with your decision. I look forward to seeing where MBI ends up.

  • Scott
    September 22, 2012 at 9:26 pm


    The long of the short of it is that you sold out for $10M. I think in the beginning you had good intentions but now you’ve thrown open source under the bus. I own ToM and have been planning on purchasing a replicator. Not anymore, this changes everything. You have lost a lot of trust in the community.

  • hsmith
    September 22, 2012 at 10:48 pm


    Just be honest then, at the very least. Your ambiguous language makes your answers obvious, but only upsets people more, as if you are hiding from the changes in Makerbot.

    Also, how will you compete with the “larger companies” if you are not even close to their size?
    Why are you giving up the community that helps you to improve your ready-made printer, and then buys it?
    I understand you want protection, patents, and secrecy, but is a large following not more important?
    Even if you had patents on everything, if Tangibot was successful(and not shot down by the community who backed you up) and became a large company, with a large following, you would not be able to stop them. You could sue, but only to be caught up in endless legal battles and paperwork.

    Please make everything open source.
    I want to develop for your company, free of charge.
    I want to tell you what I want in a printer so that I can pay you a lot of money for it.
    I want other people to do this with me, so the printer I end up buying is better than any I could have imagined.
    Please do not be a dead end derivative.

    You have been a great open source company with great products that has made the open source community/Reprap members very happy.

    Evolution will end your company, and your paycheck may be large throughout the process, but please don’t forget the ideals you set for us. It would be a shame to have to start this process over with another company that will to take open source 3d printing further, with the community.

  • Evan
    September 23, 2012 at 12:56 am

    There are any number of closed source 3D printers out on the market now. A few of them can now or in the near future out perform makerbots products. To the consumer the advantage of buying a makerbot was supporting the open source model. That in mind how are you going to make money of alienated customers? Reading the comments above that is what I am seeing.

    It was inevitable that you would have to dump the wood frame and other DIY community accessible parts. It was also inevitable that you would have clone makers. That in mind when you started the company what was your plan to deal with these issues. These points in mind what was your original plan when you started the company for dealing with them?

    I do not buy your assertion that only clone makers can benefit from less DIY accessible parts. You do not know absolutely that there is not some one smarter than you out there in the DIY community that could work their way around it.

  • Erik J. Durwood II
    September 23, 2012 at 3:35 am

    This is a gross oversimplification, but I likened this to “Fat-Free” foods. Food can be “Fat-Free” until the first 0.01% of fat is added. Then it cant.

    If we want to get technical, the Makerbot Replicator lost it’s OSHW qualification by having components designed in Solidworks. […open infrastructure, unrestricted content, and open-source design tools to maximize the ability of individuals to make and use hardware…]

    As a professional graphic artist and computer animator, if I was required to use only open-source software and tools to keep a “Fully-Open title” I would go insane. I would be anchored to the sophistication of the tools and I can tell you, while they are excellent tools and are getting better all the time there is a lot of proprietary technology that is nearly essential to functioning in this industry.

    It’s one thing for the Arduino project which is designed and INTENDED to be an integral component of other people’s projects to be fully open as any lack of transparency directly affects a customer’s usability and outcome. But a 3d printer is an end-point. Most people who use 3d printers professionally couldn’t care less how it works but THAT it works and right now, the challenges of staying “Open” and being competitive in the marketplace are unimaginably difficult for this business model.

    Arduino being fully open has a direct positive effect on their users. It is virtually pointless to the vast majority of designers and engineers that have work to do that does not involve taking apart and modifying their 3d printer.

    Really, I’m not worried about the openness of the hardware as anything that was built from open hardware must be released anyway so what everyone is left with is some superficial components and the body and honestly, it’s not a complicated device from a mechanical standpoint; if the schematics are valuable to you, you should be smart enough to figure out the rest.

    The software is the big one for me. I have done graphic design for user interfaces in the past and I can tell you, ReplicatorG is painful. It is an excellent tool if you know how to use it, but in all honesty, it suffers from the same problem that many open software projects have: It’s designed for the people who designed it. If Makerbot wants 3d printers accessible to everyone, ReplicatorG has to go. Now, that’s not to say is won’t stick around as an advanced tool for the tinkerers. That’s great! But as a graphic designer I understand that there is more to designing software than just making it work.

    The MakerWare software is going to be the identity of a Makerbot. The vast majority of users will HAVE to slice their models and MakerWare will be there to do that. How it looks, how it feels, how it reacts, it’s stability, it HAS to be deliberate and considerate. If there is no tight control over a user’s experience, a product runs wild and in the end, it leads to dissatisfied customers, disillusioned faithful and the flame burns out really fast.

    MakerWare is in my opinion the most critical component of their company right now and for them and their constituents, that needs to be a very deliberate and controlled process.

    Propriety is not evil. Using propriety to stifle progress is but at the moment all I see is a company that grew way too quickly and has to think like a business while still carrying the torch for its roots.

    There will be a lot of experimentation to come and over time they will have better solutions to their challenges and we will have a better understanding of their motives.

    In the meantime, I will enjoy the fact I can buy a $2,200 3d printer that prints a larger build volume with a finer layer thickness than a $20,000 equivalent from Stratasys. I will also know that the printer is priced higher than other options because it includes top-notch support and overhead to send back to R&D because hey, innovation is expensive!

    Nikola Tesla was tramped by big business. Thomas Edison and J.P. Morgan had all the resources in the world to do whatever they wanted. Tesla had brilliance that we would never get to see because despite his great ideas, he was not a successful businessman. If you want to succeed as a business you have to play by the rules. Keep your philosophies close and don’t compromise your core ethic but you must also make profit and outfit yourself with tools for success. Once you can afford to, you can then change the game to your liking.

    I am optimistic for the future.
    – EJDII

  • gustav
    September 23, 2012 at 7:11 am

    Interesting discussion! I understand that you need safety for your employees and that you believe that closed source provides this. But:

    As a developer and first time 3d printer buyer, I would be much more confident in buying one of your printers under your ‘old’ philosophy. It seems like you’ve decided that you need to branch out to a broader audience though. However, exposure is the only thing that matters to this broader audience of non-developers, they don’t care whether it’s open source or not. The clones will lose if you’re the best known brand. The question then becomes, which licensing scheme maximizes exposure? I don’t know for sure, but given the status of your brand as it is (or was before this), you are in the best possible situation to gain exposure from goodwill and word of mouth.

    Makerbot is the best brand out there. Even if the printers weren’t the best, you would still be the best brand, thanks to your openness. The choice of license might influence your technical competitiveness, but it will also move your brand in the opposite direction. I will buy one of your printers either way, but I’m not sure the majority of your core audience will anymore.

    Good luck!

  • John E
    September 23, 2012 at 1:33 pm


    Thanks for taking the time (and kidney shots) to carefully read all these comments and respond thoroughly. That effort alone has swayed my vote in favor of still supporting your all’s work. It really means a lot to have a company acting like a person, remaining civil, even kind (!) in the face of criticism and backlash. Really, people – how many companies out there do this? Let’s celebrate that Makerbot is one of the few.

    I loved Adrian’s commentary, and I agree that his plan makes sense to disrupt an industry – using open source as a virus to spread it vs putting up a straw man to be torched by industrial might.

    However, Bre and MakerBot folks aren’t Adrian; and while they operate in the same arena as RepRap, and are collaborators, their main goal is different. Their product is that straw man, and HP has napalm.

    Also, news flash – MakerBot’s target audience has shifted. A commentator on AdaFruit (Renee) hit it perfectly – in order to radically grow this movement, the audience is no longer makers and 3D geeks (like me) – it’s the rest of society. MakerBot is the printer that just works, looks great, markets well, and a comfortable choice that mainstream people will invite into their homes. And as someone said above, we all win if that happens. Our virus continues to grow, feeding exponentially off the new users and popularity. Industry disrupted, 3D printing for the masses! Huzzah!!

    To use an analogy, Apple plowed the field and android has sewn a million seeds in that field (that they wouldn’t have without the iPhone). As an android user/lover, I’m really grateful for what they did and keep doing.

    ps @Adrian, as much as I love your game-theory, I’d hardly call the US’s wealthiest company (Apple), an evolutionary dead end. Different goals, different organisms…

    Finally, what I hear in Bre’s post is a repeated request for help in doing this as well as possible between the rock and the hard place. The flamers are fine with MakerBot throwing their 150 livelihoods on their swords when an HP rolls out a 3D printer – viva la revolucion!! But I’m with Tom Igoe – I don’t like fundamentalism in any form. Life is messy, it’s grey, and it’s painful to change. That’s biology. And as someone who employs 6 people, I get how much 150 people matter – damnit, good for you, Bre.

    I love making things, and love community-driven projects (like open-source). But I also have a ton of tools that I depend on to make things – that are closed source. I’m fine with both. Good luck on this tricky path, Bre, et al.

  • izzy human(Herman)
    September 23, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    Who cares if its Open Source or not…soon HungLo a chinese company will sell 3D printers cheap…its only a matter of time…As for the Rep2..i’ll never be able to afford it…its for the mid-range professional….So people stop whinning about Open Source

  • Adam
    September 23, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    I posted this over at the Adafruit blog, and I think that it is worth repeating here. I find it interesting how some people are stuck one way or another way without considering when one option would be better than another.

    I will give an example that I think many can relate to. There are so many people that are advocates of KiCAD over other freeware just for the reason that it is open source and that it could be potentially improved in the future to meet the current need. This approach is fine for someone that has a need for free software and does not mind spending a large amount of their time working around the bugs/inefficiencies, because that too is part of their hobby. For them this aspect is fun.

    Compare this, though, to a company that is designing boards day in and day out. To take an open source program and bring it up to the level needed to compete in the commercial market for large volume work may require resources that are not available (including time and long term cash outlay that will require many projects to be able to amortize that cost). In this case it will be cheaper in the long run to invest in something that already works and has the work flow improvements needed for this type of business, with a promise to keep upgrading the software to meet future needs.

    Put more simply, a spoon is a great tool to eat soup with, and they are available to almost everyone, but why dig a trench with a spoon if you have access to a backhoe? It is important to consider what your needs are, and what tools are there to best meet those needs.

    In the case of MakerBot, does this new incarnation devalue the previous incarnation if it is not open sourced? I would submit no. This device would then be targeted towards a different audience. Does this mean that they have somehow violated some moral code? No, they have just adopted a different business model that serves another community.

    This is the most important question for this potentially alienated community to ask themselves; why did you not make this happen yourselves? MakerBot gave you all the base knowledge to make it happen, you could have done this, but chose not to. Is this new machine so revolutionary, not really. It is now using materials that allow it to achieve higher accuracy, albeit at the sacrifice of higher cost.

    If indeed, this device stays closed source, I invite the community to do something more constructive than complaining on the internet forums and comment sections and start writing code, and creating a new design to compete. Put this open source concept to the test and compete, there is nothing holding you back except yourselves waiting for someone else to do if for you.


    No relation to the MakerBot Adam (Mods may check my IP and Email addresses to confirm if needed)

  • Anonemouse
    September 23, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    This brings up the new question since the electronics design isn’t published. If, and this is a big if, you are still using the gen1 Mightyboard or some derivative, have you made permanent fixes, or is it still shipping with the hacks?!topic/makerbot/TIjz68diHn4 Which comes into the second issue of your “New” business model, purchasing support. So if you don’t publish the electronic specs and are now selling support for an amazing $350 for one year, how is a consumer to know his board won’t go POP like this:

    Without some documentation (besides a bunch of marketing hype), people have to take you at your word the Replicator 2 is improved. Since every generation of bots has had some major issue with electronics when they shipped (gen 3 MOSFETS, GEN 4 H-bridge failures, MAX 6675 failures, stepper driver failures, 5 Volt regulator change, Mightyboard initial failures and modifications), exactly how do we know anything has been fixed? I mean selling a $350 1 year support plan would certainly make a person wonder how bad is MTBF?

  • sergevi
    September 24, 2012 at 8:03 am

    Very interesting thread indeed.
    I just don’t get why reprap community people seem so mad at you Bre ? It’s pretty clear for years that Makerbot is a COMPAGNY = making money by selling products. What’s new here ?
    It’s true when i read all your comments here , it’s very clear to me that you changed target and focus , like any company like yours need to do . For me, you should just say : ” guys, don’t you see we are going to fight 3d systems with a Reprap based stuff? isn’t it wonderful ? . Open, closed, community , not community … doesn’t matter now, we go mainstream ! ” Everybody should just support that .
    I really hope you take a good place there ! You deserve it .
    ( I promise if i get enough money i will buy a replicator2.. but now it’s pro stuff, it’s pricey, hu 😛 )

    To all Reprap comunnity hardcores, please read and re-read Adrian Bowyer post ! If i was you, I wouldn’t spend energy on what company close sources or not, and I would try to bring something useful to the RepRap first goal : self replication!

    I’m personally more annoyed by all last advances in Reprap community because it’s all about making the printer more easy to build in a factory, steel sheets everywhere, unbuildable electronics, impossible to find hardware ! and nothing about self-replication !

    Just my 2c ,back to my personal all-printed-RepRap project 🙂

  • Anonemouse
    September 24, 2012 at 10:54 am

    True to the title “Fixing Misinformation with Information”

    Hmm, so don’t release the source but you founded a hacker organization (NYC Resistor) and several generations of hardware tinkers. It’s not like we would figure it out anyway?

    Makerware is restricted to working with Replicator and Replicator2, leaving all the Cupcake and T-O-M owners in the dark since MBI will not sell the Mightyboard. Maybe it’s time to change that and sell the mightyboard to those who you’ve left 2 generations behind and aren’t going to spend $2k on another bot?

    Regardless of what the license says in Makerware
    “(b) you shall not modify, make derivative works of, disassemble, reverse compile or reverse engineer any part of the Licensed Software; (c) you shall not access the Licensed Software in order to build a similar or competitive product or service; ”

    You still should be able to mess with the GPL portions of the code. Luckily, The team didn’t do their homework and the bot check is in the GPL portion of the code?
    In the folder s3g is this license:
    Version 3, 19 November 2007”
    This would seem to contradict the main license.

    Thus, knowing that it works with the open source Mightyboard for the original replicator, there are a couple of knowns. One of them being the USB interface of the Mightyboard is basically like that of newer Arduinos with the FTDI chip being replaced by an Atmega8u2 prgrammed to act like a USB serial bridge.
    Info on that can be found at
    “How does the new ‘8u2 affect Arduino-derivatives?
    Every USB device needs to have a unique product id and vendor id. Vendor IDs (VID) are sold to companies and Product IDs (PID) are chosen by that company. So for example FTDI owns VID #0403 and they give their chips ID’s between #0000 and #FFFF (65,536 different PIDs) Older Ardiuno’s used FTDI’s VID/PID as that is part of the deal when you purchase their chips. Because the Uno does not use an FTDI chip anymore, the Arduino team had to purchase a USB Vendor ID (VID). Every Arduino product will now have their own PID starting with the Uno (#0001)

    If you want to make your own Arduino-compatible board, you have a few choices:

    1.Don’t use an 8u2, go with an FTDI chip instead that comes with a VID
    2.If you’re planning to make more than one board for your personal use, you will have to purchase a VID from USB IF for a one time $2000 fee
    3.If you’re making a single board for your own experimentation, you can pick a VID/PID that doesn’t interfere with any devices on your computer and substitute those in
    4.You can purchase licenses for single VID/PID pairs from companies that develop USB devices (we dont have any specific links at the moment)
    However, you can’t use the Arduino VID when distributing your own Arduino-compatibles! If the cost of a VID is too much for you, simply go with an FTDI chip, ‘K? ”

    Easy enough, Makerbot did the right thing and bought a licensed VID for their boards. This means that while the hardware MIghtyboard is open source and anyone could make one, what you cannot do and don’t have is the legal right to put the VID on the 8u2 and thus, it’s not a genuine board. This is actually good protection for them.

    That said, Replicator-G does not check VID, only that it’s a serial port and thus any Mega1280 will work (Bring on the adapter motherboard for those with T-O-Ms that shipped with Mega 1280s to turn it inot a Mightybaord shield). To be clear, because the 1280 ships with a FTDI chip, the VID of FTDI is what is presented so it still won’t connect to Makerware either.

    And for those curious:
    The actual check is in

    ,# bot USB classes IE what VID/PID can map to what bot profiles
    botClasses = {
    ‘The Replicator 2’:{‘vid’:0x23C1, ‘pid’:0xB015,’botProfiles’:’.*Replicator2′},
    ‘The Replicator’:{‘vid’:0x23C1, ‘pid’:0xD314,’botProfiles’:’.*Replicator’},
    ‘MightBoard’:{‘vid’:0x23C1, ‘pid’:0xB404, ‘botProfiles’:’.*Replicator’},

    Again, Makerbot does have protection against direct cloning, in the form that the software in total cannot be used legally with another bot, nor can one clone USB VID and sell them.

    Here is the mightyboard and mightyboard 2 firmware, and the magic bootloader.

    Now that is fixing “Fixing Misinformation with Information”

  • DingBat
    September 24, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Maybe you could borrow the iD Software’s model.

    Current generation is closed, but previous generation is released to the community. So Replicator 2 would be closed until Replicator 3 is launched, then shortly after Replicator 3 is available release everything for Replicator 2.

  • kendall
    September 24, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    I hope that you read all of these post and reconsider your position. I have supported your company up to this point. Now I am going to have to step back and watch how you handle this before I decide to continue to offer my support.

  • Andy
    September 24, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    I like a quite a few others are a little torn as to the situation that is happening. I love open source work, it’s not just one person or company its a comunity building adding and growing. So to see something that was florishing nipped in the bud is upsetting.

    But after thinking about the new design i think that partial open source or a splinter of printing devices will have to be made. For instance by serving two comunities a Maker bot that is both fully open source ( Replicator ) and one for a professional comunity ( Replicator 2 ) but with the second having part of it’s tech advances opensource to the comunity.

    Things like the designs for the new printer head or how the new table works or specs to upgrade the electronics to something similar to how the Replicator 2 has. So in essence the Replicator 2 becomes the F1 version, with some of it’s advances filtering down for the comunity and for the original Replicator ( possibly a name change perhaps? ) Having looked at the design from the video and images on the site, with the metal frame, Plastic side paneling and what looks like injection molded parts for the printerhead and Axis’s it looks like to be able to create parts at home may prove to be far to advanced without the need of factory equipment.

    This is the problem. Can you open source something which cannot be made using simple manufacturing techniques? Sure the metal frame could be frabricated at home and the side panels could be made using home made molds and vacume-formed etc. But it’s a whole new level of work involved.

    So splitting the two styles of printer would make sense with the tech upgrades of the high end version filtering out to the comunity and to the Home built unit. The other way could be to fully open source the replicator 2 once it’s at the end of it’s production run, say if they’re is the replicator 3 now available. But this means a longer wait to have the upgraded tech or to work on improving/modding it ( by which time the comunity could have already come up with something on their own better than the current replicator 2 )

    So i can see how this is complicated for all concerned. But above all else makerbot started open source, pushed open source and has promoted open source. So to not do that would go against it’s founding priciples. So regardless of how much/not becomes open source something needs to be released that propagates this founding principle.

    Well thats my 2 pennys worth anyway.

  • Russ Nelson
    September 27, 2012 at 10:12 am

    Marcus, I can answer your question about moral rights. Some countries give you “moral rights” to your creations. These rights are inalienable, just like our (U.S.) right to free speech. Meaning: you can’t sell them, you can’t give them up, you can’t license them. In order to be bound by a license, you have to waive your moral rights first. Then you can look at the terms of the license, and see if they are satisfactory.

  • Russ Nelson
    September 27, 2012 at 10:37 am

    I’ve read a few more comments. The key point to remember about open source is that IT’S NOT ABOUT THE LICENSE. It’s about the COMMUNITY. You can have a closed product with a thriving user community, and that’s okay. Bre has to worry about competition from above and competition from below. The incredibly cheap 3D printer is coming from HP, Lexmark, and Canon. You KNOW it is, and if Bre doesn’t have a product that can compete in that market, he’s toast. One of the characteristics of that market is that people just want to make stuff. They don’t want to have to make their tools first. Makerbot has to get into that market, grow it bigger, and cost-reduce as quickly as they can, even if that means throwing self-replication to the winds.

    I say this as the owner of a non-functional Darwin, and a Printrbot who can’t (or won’t) afford a Replicator 2.

  • Charles Babbage
    September 27, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Uh, oh… Form 1

  • Patrick
    November 4, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    I have some thoughts on this issue from an exterior perspective:

    As an end user I want a product that immediately works. I am considering purchasing one of these units, either through MBI or a competitor, and a big part of the decision is going to be based on my estimation of what that out-of-box experience will be like. It needs to be quick and easy; I can build it, I just don’t want to. I want to unwrap the thing and get the wide-eyed buy-in from my friends and family that same afternoon. I want to slap it up, print something out, and have my people go “wow – that’s a game changer. I understand why you wanted that, now.” I think that requirement sort of necessitates a move away from the hobbyist mentality, and that is what it looks like is being done with the Rep2.

    I also have children and bringing them up in an environment where they have access to this tech is important to me. Where thinking “hey let’s go build a toy” takes precedence over “hey let’s go buy a toy.” Again, this necessitates a level of ease and reliability that is not present in the hobbyist community. I can’t tell my eight year old that she’s got to recalibrate the pneumatic splorkenfurger every third run and that the z-flange rammistopper needs to be re-set to a higher level whenever the layer height is below 37 microns. It’s challenging enough for an eight year old to try and design a solid object in the first place. She needs a print button that just works.

    That being said, I’ve been a member of the DIY crowd all my life, and following the reprap project since fairly early on. I’ve swapped from an automatic to a manual in a car. I’ve rewired and replumbed a house. I’ve broken the regional encryption on a DVD player, and I’ve rooted a phone. I have a home-made forge. There are precious few mechanisms or logic sets around my house that I have not tinkered with, even if mostly unsuccessfully. I will not be able to keep my hands off this machine.
    Bre if you are reading this, I think people like me are your crossover audience. I want it to work in a rock-solid fashion from day 1. But I also want to be able to say: “Haha. I made it do something it wasn’t designed to do.” I enjoy sharing these design changes with my community, and I don’t have a problem with you saying: “Cool. That’s now part of the Rep3, but I’m not paying you for it.” This is the third important factor for me in this decision: Am I’m going to be able to do that with your new machine?

    You guys can argue the sophics of being *completely* open vs partially open all day long and it isn’t going to solve those issues. The Rep2 design does seem to be moving in that direction, though, for the first two. The question is what about the third? It doesn’t have to be 100% open, it just needs to be open enough. You can create some kind of “developer status” that allows people 100% access along with an NDA for the secretive bits that keep the Chinese manufacturers guessing, but you need to keep the majority of the project accessible to the community of tinkerers.

    In case we have all forgotten what that difference is, let me give you some real world examples.
    Open is when you are allowed to understand the design of something well enough that you can make a derivative structure, like an extruder head that has injection ports for heated, liquid color dye.
    Closed is when a little boy figures out how to write homebrew software for his game machine and gets sued.
    Open is when extra “ports” or “handles” or “logic” is included in a design so that a tinkerer can take advantage of it – even if he doesn’t know what’s going on inside the secretive black-box parts.
    Closed is when an object is built with barbed tabs or foil tape that have to be broken in order to open it.
    Open is when you contact the professional developers and say “I have a cool idea that works something like ‘this’, but I don’t know how the guts inside that thingamabob work so I can test it.” And the developer responds with “I can’t tell you what’s in the thingamabob – but I can write a patch that makes your frankenthingie connectible. Let us know how it turns out.”

    Personal computers are, as an example, both open and closed. The insides follow many specific community-driven standards. We all get to know how they work. Can I assemble a computer? Yes. Can I design an entirely new PCIe board that follows the communication and power protocols and works in my PC? Yes. Do I know how every single things works from top to bottom? No, but I know how each interacts with all the different parts. Computer systems are driven by a community of completely closed hardware manufacturers, each jealously guarding their wares while maintaining the required level of interoperability. Our community is driven by individuals, but the protocol-based approach can still work.

    We need to develop standards. MakerBot can help build those standards. Right now these are still relatively simple machines, as the first computers were. But this tech represents a lot more than just a “peripheral”, and they will not always be simple. Someday they will lay down plastic in a dithering array of colors, deposit current-carrying wires in 3-dimensional patterns not even possible now. Prints will be made in flexible plastic in some places, hard plastic in most places, and clear plastic in yet more spots. Some bits will be designed to disintegrate or wash away, creating complex, multi-part mechanical pieces in single pass. I wouldn’t even discount getting that hot earl gray at the same time. People can be ridiculously ingenious, and if any one person figures it out – the whole community benefits. Some people’s replicators will involve all of these different capacities and more. Others will use bare bones models that just do basic 16.7 million color 3D prints. The key to this will be in the shared, open internal structure.

    If you think that one company can come up with all these advances, and all the other ones I haven’t thought to mention, then maybe closed sourcing would work. But keep this in mind: IBM’s *clones* beat IBM and everyone else. Android is, possibly regrettably, stomping the iPhone. All the zillions of cars on the road source their parts from a ridiculously small number of suppliers. Standards of Interoperability is what you need – not a religious adherence to open source tech. Get together with the other builders in this fledgling community and figure out how to make all the different makers – and the tinkerers – live on a single platform.

  • Ursus Siara
    November 5, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Bre, The first kickstarter I had ever seen was yours. The Open Source Community was fascinating to me. I could literally see the hope of Mankind there. Still do. I remember thinking about the impact that 3d printing could have made in my life then. I remember how expensive they were and then I came across you and your excellent project to bring together the best designs and create a printer that everyone could afford. (I seem to remember under $500) A printer in every pot! Right? Right… More like “NO SOUP FOR YOU!”

    Mr. Pettis, that you are an extremely motivated person, I have no doubt. But at least be honest with yourself about something. You like the money. A lot. And your marketing speech for friends and former collaborators was more than a little condescending from where I’m sitting, being neither.

    Never mind the crack about this being better, (to all those who helped YOU make them in the first place),since they’re not going to be up to the task, technologically, to keep up with your new designs (I paraphrase).
    Pardon me, Sir, but that was just a stupid thing for you to say.

    All of these talented and creative people have brought this concept to brink of reality. And now, you are trying to tell them that a better strategy for getting a 3 d printer into every person’s hands (instead of having their neighbor of family member make them the parts for one and pass it on) is too market it to “high tier, retail end users by quadrupling the price and making it look like it came from “Brookstone”? And it’s these “users” that are going to make the greatest leaps with the technology? Did I hear that right??? Your trading the loyalty, creativity and passion that this group of people have DEMONSTRATED for years and go ALL IN on Costco Soccer Mom’s??

    Is that the winning strategy during a recession? It probably is. I would guess that most of the people reading this are lower to upper middle class, most of whom,
    can’t afford your product any longer. But hey, we can always pick one up for parts in a few years when the .001 %, who have managed to “aquire” the wealth (yes there’s an extra 0 for accuracy) to afford one, donate it to goodwill or the SA. I think you are fooling yourself when you say that this is the best way to spread the technology. It’s the Lie that you want to hear so bad, you tell yourself so. Maybe you think your on to the next Ipod or such.
    While I have no doubt that 3D printing is going to have a major impact when and should it become common place, I think you sir, are making the excuse fit the action, because of the power and money involved. Too bad, so Sad..
    I think you gave up the chance to truly lead and make plenty of money. Now, you’ll probably be rollin in the dough,. But, you will have to answer to the money.

    I would encourage everyone who thinks this is b.s. , to start anew or look at the other builders who still are open. I for one am trying to come up with a source for #5 PP Thread for the modelers.

  • camilo andres
    December 9, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    I want to say, there are lots of points of views questioning the new direction of Makerbot Ind. but please, question also to the current business rules and models too, if you want see growing the open source initiative (not only Makerbot directions). I mean, Keep in mind that is not easy for enterprises play in reverse the current business rules/models (we know which rules to every specific enterprise?), because the business rules/models are the environment where the enterprises lives and eat, so we must try to understand and change the business enviroment that feeds the enterprises.

    If you want to support the open initiative, why not try to do your 3D things with your open hardware 3D printer aslo for open products, also for open initiatives, also for open hardware… (not only support 3D projects with your money, that is good of course) could be an important approach to understand and change the current business rules, I mean, not only support open initiatives, also try to change the enviroment of business rules that are forcing enterprises to follow his rules, so we will try to feed the open enviroment (not only with money as the alternative), and help to enterprises to not be feeded by the closed enviroment.

    just my 2 cents.

  • Morgan in Seattle
    March 15, 2013 at 1:58 am

    I say put up the walled garden and keep making awesome products and charge a bundle as the market looks to support it. Most of the kids here are a bunch of whiners who never had the balls to take something big and create 150 jobs. Could you imagine if the Ink-Jet printer was still Open Hardware? Or the PC or the telephone? Give me a break.

  • xerox4100
    April 20, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    I am sad to see and hear this. Its a sell out any way you look at it. you think Oh someone is copying my idea that 1000’s of people helped me create I will just make it closed source at this point and say hey sure you can upload stuff still and we will say its ours to protect our selves. sounds like M$ every time they get sued for stealing code from open office or appache for their iis servers.
    Its sad to see everyone’s work be stolen from you and you kinda lagh like its a joke your stealing everyone’s IP like a big bushiness and not giving them anything for it as you sit on millions.

    I hope you get sued and sued hard because these kinds of actions HURT the open source community greatly.

  • Felton Dyreson
    September 19, 2013 at 9:29 pm

    When should I expect my first letter?


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