MakerBot at the frontier of hobbyist 3D Printing
Meet Makerbot Industries, the world’s leading provider of open-source 3D printers for consumer desktops. Founded in 2009 by Bre Pettis, Adam Meyer, and Zach Hoeken Smith, the company currently provides easy-to-assemble, easy-to-use 3D printers at affordable prices.
Building on the RepRap Project’s success in bringing to life a fully functional diy 3D printer, Makerbot Industries has manufactured thousands of Thing-O-Matics, CupCake CNC’s, and their newest technology—the MakerBot Replicator.
Receiving heavy publicity through media and social networking, Makerbot has been successful in offering practical, easy-to-use 3D printers to consumers. Using slogans like “Instead of going shopping, MakerBot it,” Makerbot Industries has been able to attract attention from like hobbyists, artists, and even stay-at-home moms. This is because the machines are so simple to operate. The MakerBot Replicator comes fully assembled, and they are ready to use right out of the box; the Thing-O-Matic and CupCake CNC come unassembled but the difficulty of building them can be compared to assembling a piece of IKEA furniture. Through their online community called Thingiverse, MakerBotters from all around the world can share and download each others’ designs.
After selling approximately 3,500 units as of March 2011, Venture Capital firm The Foundary Group invested $10 million into the company. Since then, MakerBot has brought 3D printing into unforeseen platforms. Their latest technology, the Replicator, can not only print objects with a volume of 300 cubic inches, it also has MakerBot’s new Dualstrusion technology which allows for 2-color printing.
With their marketable logo, fun designs, and their general hip-geek demeanor, MakerBot has also been attracting public interest through all sorts of mediums. Geek.com, for example, has recently published an article about MakerBot Industries’ new project called Project Shelter. In Project Shelter, Makerbot Industries collaborated with Team TeamUSA to produce some of the first 3D-fabricated housing (shells) for pet hermit crabs.
MakerBot’s 3D Printers sell as low as $1100 for the most basic model. And the company offers support for any questions or concerns. All Makerbot’s products can be found on the MakerBot Store. Here you can find toolheads, plastic materials, electronics, and much more. But before you go buy one, be sure to see how Makerbot matches up against its competitors. See our comparison grid for detailed specs on all the major printer manufacturers