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3D printer community revolting against Makerbot's new closed-source printer (marcuswolschon.blogspot.de)
138 points by iamwil on Sept 22, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 37 comments

I always found it slightly rotten when businesses use an "open" model to, in essence, get their fans and customers to build their product and market it for them, and then close it off for maximum profit once it reaches a certain level of maturity.

It feels like bait and switch.

I showed my dad the Replicator 2 yesterday, and he's really close to ordering one.

I also showed him the RepRap, and he was immediately turned off of the idea... he just wants something easy, polished, and more consumer grade, not "hacker" grade.

I am a huge fan of Open Source, and have no problems with using Open Source in a commercial manner (I actually have a commercial software product that uses some Open Source components), as long as the licenses are being adhered to.

Bri Pettis strikes me as being a solid guy, and I believe his intentions are honorable, and he will do as he says, and ensure that everything will follow all the license requirements.

It's understandable that he has to be a bit protective of some aspects of his products, as I think the big players (Epson, HP, etc) could become a real threat as soon as they twig to the fact that there's a reasonable market there.

I can't blame him for trying not give the proprietary aspects of what he's doing to his competitors, especially when they're 800 lbs gorillas.

I think that balancing the need for protecting your investment and meeting the requirements of various Open Source licenses is a bit tougher than some realize. It's not just a case of "release everything to the masses", it can be quite complicated.

For now, I'm willing to give him (and MakerBot) the benefit of the doubt, and trust that they'll Do No Evil.

The "proprietary aspects" of a tiny stepper driven extruder are less than trivial to the company that created the first mass market laser printer. You can't fight gorillas with gorilla-ness when you're lemur sized.

The primary asset Makerbot has is the community. Its fine to polish the product to make it more useful to those less skilled, but lock the community out of the product by closing up the software and its over. That is exactly the advantage someone like HP needs. Theirs is going to be just as good or better eventually with or without Makerbot's suuuper secrets. In the end, the only differentiator will be community.

True, but I tend to believe that the makeup of the community is a dynamic thing; it's going to change over time.

To start with, it might be a few of the hard-core early adopter, hacker types that will help develop the product, but it will eventually move away from that and become more a straight consumer community. (That's my guess, any way).

For instance, my dad will probably buy one and use it a fair bit for various projects, but he's not at all someone who'd give anything back to the "community", other than his cash.

And while it is the initial "hacker" community that will give it some momentum and critical mass, it's the "cash paying user" community that will really drive development forward.


The fact that some users don't want to contribute to community doesn't mean it's not worth having it be open. You can still cater to consumers without closing your product to hackers.

You might want to wait until the end of this week to make your decision. Formlabs, a newer 3-D printing company out of MIT, will be making a big announcement on 9/26 http://www.formlabs.com/

"It's understandable that he has to be a bit protective of some aspects of his products, as I think the big players (Epson, HP, etc) could become a real threat as soon as they twig to the fact that there's a reasonable market there." HP is already aware it looks like. HP is selling thier DesignJet3D in Europe. http://www8.hp.com/uk/en/products/3d-printers/index.html

Buy an Ultimaker instead. You will not regret it

This is why people (for a long time) invented things like the GNU GPL. It means you cannot 'close' it afterwards.

Invariably there is a fork just around the corner.

> Invariably there is a fork just around the corner.

MakerBot was a fork of RepRap. RepRap is still open source.

Tangibot is a fork, although their Kickstarter was unsuccessful so I don't know what means for it's future: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mattstrong/the-tangibot-...

I supported Makerbot because of their commitment to the open source software and hardware community. If that changes then they will lose me as a customer. I actually paid a premium for their Replicator printer because I believed in their philosophy. Now that they are funded by a VC it seems they have strayed from that path. Let's hope they can bring it back. If not I'll go with the cheaper and more capable alternatives to the Makerbot printers.

here's some links for more info




tom igoe has some sensible words on this:


this is an interesting discussion in advance of this (unfortunately sold out) conference next week about open source hardware:


(hopefully they will ustream it)

many of the videos from the last summit are up, btw:


The OSHW Summit is going to be particularly interesting because Josef Prusa, the designer of the most popular RepRap variant and an opponent of closed source 3D printing will be giving a talk. A couple of hours later, Bre Pettis, co-founder of MakerBot is also scheduled to give a talk, entitled Challenges of Open Source Consumer Products.

I've also been working an alternative:


It is based on git, and lets you version your models. It also shows a visual diff in the history of your models.

Your product looks awesome. Side note - Your SSL certificate is expired.

Thanks! As for the SSL certs, I saw that yesterday, and I thought I fixed it. But I'll dig into it further. Thanks for the notice!

Edit: I fixed it. Somehow the intermediate certificate wasn't installed. Thanks for the notification!

Wow. That's really sleazy selling a product, as a traditionally open hardware company, and not being upfront about it possibly being closed source.

IANAL, but my understanding is that in Europe, waivers of moral rights are non-enforcable.

since when is keeping something open source a 'moral' so-called "right"?

"Moral right" is a specific legal term.

In many countries (most signatories of the Berne Convention) moral rights are inalienable. You can't renounce them, regardless of will. That would make that clause in the TOS unvalid for anyone in these countries.

I was really looking forward to see what makerbot was going to add to the open source community. It is totally bait and switch. Thank GOD|FSM for individuals (RepRap, Open Source Ecology, Open PCR, Arduino) that continue to keep their efforts open and free.

Is MakerBot getting dictated by house of Pettis?

"We are in Brooklyn with client MakerBot. Disclosure: CEO of MakerBot is my son, Bre Pettis. Join us for a streaming press conference at 3:00 pm EDT at www.makerbot.com" - from facebook status of BrandSolutions


Bre admitted that they are one of angel investors and "his folks" on this blog post last year. http://www.makerbot.com/blog/2011/08/23/all-star-lineup-inve...

Something smokes...

That's a rather silly notion -- and kudos to his parents for investing in the company when given the opportunity along with that massive list of other entities who ventured onboard.

I think you kind of have to look at it from Makerbot's perspective - they themselves have invested a lot into the hardware/software (aside from the community), and other people are already beginning to rip them off (like the guy who took the exact design and manufactured it in China for his Kickstarter campaign). I admit, I might be misunderstanding the current situation, but this is my take on it given what I have learned thus far. I will happily buy closed-source hardware/software, so long as it is good.

It's funny, Makerbot actually took the MK7 extruder design from a Chinese 3D printer (UP!). I'm not saying that what the guy did with the kickstarter campaign was right, just don't be fooled into thinking Makerbot invented everything.

Good to know! :)

In the past, I gripped about how their 3D printers becoming unaffordable. Never mind the fact that it cost 2K dollars. Now it's no longer open source.

I can't point to makerbot industry and say "business don't have to be closed source in order to make money". I want to be able to say "they make a shitload of money, while defying the Chinese!"

I think this is more like Josef Prusa and a couple of angry reprap guys trying to 'take their ball and go home' than a revolution of some sort.

this is so silly..so a company now doesnt have the right to try to make money? are they now "selling out"? silly revolt

As someone who contributes OSHW derivatives, it feels really shitty to have a company go from very open (Makerbot in 2009) to very closed (Makerbot in 2012). Contrast this with Google Wave, originally closed, then they opened it.

The same thing is true with pricing a product: it's very difficult to raise prices, while it's very easy to lower them.

Something being open != you cannot make money with it. This notion is stupid, false and dishonest.

Besides, I don't think companies have a "right to make money", anyways. That would lead to government enforced business models and the utter insanity to which this leads can currently be observed in the copyright industries and their ongoing fight against free speech.

> Something being open != you cannot make money with it. This notion is stupid, false and dishonest.

In fact, open source is the money-making arm of free software.

That's mostly because those who want to make money don't like to call it "Free Software". Blame the English language for having only a single widespread word for "costless" and "libre".

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