You Know What Makes Me Mad? Ink Cartridges.

At MakerBot, we are on a mission to make manufacturing things yourself inexpensive, easy, and fun. We hold the MakerBot Operators of the world in the highest regard. We’ve been engineering our tails off to bring you the best personal 3D printer and we rejected the proprietary cartridge model for printing materials which other companies use, because we encourage sharing and iteration. And those are both best done when material is inexpensive. You can be generous and give things away and the cost of failure is low. We believe the low cost of failure will drive people to iterate their designs, bask in the glow of innovation, and invent the future.

I hate the ink cartridge business model where the machine is ultra cheap and the ink cartridge is absurdly expensive. Have you ever bought an inkjet printer inexpensively and then run out of ink at a critical moment? Then you have to go out and spend a lot of money on a whole new cartridge. It often is cheaper and more convenient to buy a new printer than it is to buy a replacement cartridge. On top of that, I’ve had an inkjet say it’s out of ink when there’s visibly still ink in the cartridge. This is done by chipping the cartridges to monitor use, so you can never use all the material. That makes me so mad. It’s wrong.

This is such an old, accepted model of doing business, we don’t even think about it anymore. Razor blades, ink cartridges, photo printers, Swiffers, and mobile phones & service contracts. That’s the old world. That’s a wasteful world. That’s a world in which consumers are treated like hostages. That’s not the future I want to live in. The way we’re doing things at MakerBot is common sense. It shouldn’t be a revolutionary business model, but these days, it is.