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MakerBot founders (left to right) Adam Mayer, Zach Smith and Bre Pettis with the final MakerBot Cupcake prototypes
|Founder(s)||Bre Pettis, Adam Mayer, and Zach "Hoeken" Smith|
|Headquarters||Brooklyn, New York, United States|
MakerBot Industries is a Brooklyn, New York-based company founded in January 2009 by Bre Pettis, Adam Mayer, and Zach "Hoeken" Smith producing 3D printers. MakerBot builds on the early progress of the RepRap Project with the goal of bringing desktop 3D printing into the home at an affordable price.
The company started shipping kits in April 2009 and has sold approximately 3,500 units as of March 2011. Demand for the kits was so great in 2009 that the company solicited MakerBot owners to provide parts for future MakerBots from their own MakerBots. Seed funding of $75000 was provided by Jake Lodwick ($50000) and Adrian Bowyer and his wife Christine ($25000).
In August 2011, venture capital firm The Foundry Group invested $10 million in the company and joined its board.
Contrary to the non-commercial RepRap project, MakerBot Industries is not focused on an end-goal of self-replication. Their products are designed to be built by anyone with basic technical skills, and are frequently described as being about as complicated as assembling IKEA furniture. The current printers are sold as do it yourself kits, requiring only minor soldering.
Cupcake CNC 
The Cupcake CNC was introduced in March 2009. The source files needed to make the devices were put on Thingiverse, allowing anyone to build their own from scratch. The Cupcake CNC features a usable build area of 100 mm × 100 mm × 130 mm (L/W/H) and has outside dimensions of 350 mm × 240 mm × 450 mm.
Because of the open source nature of the product, many suggestions for improvements came from the existing user base, and printing upgrades and replacement parts both became popular projects for learning to operate the units. During its primary production run (April 2009 to September 2010), the Cupcake CNC had numerous upgrades so each 'batch' of new units would be slightly upgraded as time went on. The early model Cupcake CNC units shipped with a Plastruder MK3 and both acrylic and foamcore build platforms. All Cupcake CNC units shipped with DC motor extruders and Generation 3 electronics. Serial numbers for Cupcake CNC printers start at #1 and end around #2625.
Introduced in September 2010 at Maker Faire NYC, the Thing-O-Matic is MakerBot's second 3D Printer kit. The Thing-O-Matic shipped with many of the common upgrades that had been built for Cupcake CNC printers previously. The stock Thing-O-Matic shipped with a heated, automated build platform, an MK5 plastruder, a redesigned z-stage, and upgraded electronics (Generation 4). Later batches of Thing-O-Matic printers shipped with an MK6 Stepstruder, a stepper motor-based extruder instead of the DC motor unit used previously as well as the parts to print using smaller 1.75 mm filament stocks. Orders placed as of September 15, 2011 ship with an MK7 Stepstruder, specifically designed for use with 1.75 mm filament only.
Parts are fabricated using acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) or polylactic acid (PLA) with an extrusion head with z axis mobility and a platen with x and y axis mobility. Fully assembled, the exterior dimensions are 300 × 300 × 410 mm (12″ W × 12″ D × 16″ H) with a build envelope of 100 x 100 x 100 mm (4″ W × 4″ D × 4″ H) when using the automated build platform. The device interfaces using USB or Secure Digital (SD) card.
The Thing-O-Matic is no longer sold on the Makerbot Industries site, being discontinued in the spring of 2012 after the introduction of the new Makerbot Replicator. Makerbot Industries will continue to support the Thing-o-Matic until their supply of parts is exhausted, but have no plans of selling anymore disassembled DIY kits. Thing-O-Matic serial numbers start at #3000 and as of March 2011 are up to approximately 3850. The use of an automatic build platform is unique to the Thing-O-Matic. This component allows for the user to queue items to print, printing each individually, ejecting the final part after cooldown, and then beginning on the next item. This gives the printer the capability to execute a queue of print jobs unattended. It has been determined that in some configurations base layer material does not adhere well to the plastic belt surface. It has been proposed that using a titanium belt could fix this issue. Other users simply use the heated build platform and print on a layer of masking tape (specifically blue painters tape) or kapton tape.
Instructions for assembly are provided online through the Makerbot Wiki. The Thing-O-Matic is open-source hardware and is licensed under the GNU GPLv3. As such, the Thing-O-Matic can be heavily altered and improved by users.
Benefits over other 3D printers 
- (Relatively) low cost (compared to Dimension, Objet, other professional printers)
- Support provided by full-time staff (compared to Reprap, other open source printers without a backing company) and hobbyist community
- (Relatively) low cost build material
Disadvantages compared to other 3D printers 
As the MakerBot Operators have printed more items, alternatives to early designs have prompted updates by MakerBot, so many kits shipped with 'upgraded' parts right from the factory. Many of the upgrades are redesigns or improvements on other people's work, and MakerBot has credited those early innovators in their documentation, and even on some of the PCB silkscreen layouts.
In January 2012 Makerbot Industries introduced the Replicator. The engineering team led by Charles Pax created an improved 3D printer with more than double the build envelope of the Thing-o-Matic (225 x 145 x 150 millimeters or 8.9 x 5.7 x 5.9 inches). Other features include a dual extruder allowing two-color builds, and upgraded electronics that include an LCD display and a control pad for direct user interaction without the need for a PC. The replicator is only sold pre-assembled, and Makerbot Industries has no intention, at this time, to release an unassembled DIY version.
Replicator 2 
In September 2012 Makerbot Industries introduced the Replicator 2. The new version 3D printer again increased the build envelope (285 x 153 x 155 millimeters or 11.2 x 6.0 x 6.1 inches) and can print at 100 microns per layer. The dual extruder option was dropped, but the upgraded electronics, LCD display, and gamepad remain similar to the original Replicator. The firmware, desktop software and file formats were also changed in this version to support the additional accuracy and size. Unlike previous models, the Replicator 2 can only print PLA plastic, and does not include the heated build plate, extruder, or high-temperature settings for ABS plastic. The Replicator 2 is only sold pre-assembled.
Replicator 2X 
Alongside the Replicator 2, in September 2012 MakerBot also released the Replicator 2X. The 2X model is intended as experimental version of the 2 that includes, in addition to the Replicator 2's features, a completely enclosed build area, dual-extruder support, the ability to print with ABS plastic with a heated aluminum build platform, a redesigned extruder that improves reliability, and software support for these features.
In addition to selling just the electronics used to power a MakerBot (which can be used on RepRap Project printers), MakerBot Industries has produced the following items related to 3D printing:
- Frostruder MK2: for printing in frosting / toothpaste / nutella / other substances
- MakerBot Unicorn: for mounting a pen and plotting on a MakerBot printer
- MakerBot 3D Scanner
MakerBot Industries hosts an online community called Thingiverse where users can post files, document their designs, and collaborate on open source hardware. The site is a collaborative repository for design files used in 3D printing, laser cutting services, and other DIY manufacturing processes. In November 2011, MakerBot began its first retail sales of Thing-O-Matic through AC Gears in New York City with a permanent display. In September 2012, MakerBot opened their own retail location near Mulberry and Houston in New York City, where they sell their equipment and supplies, demonstrate 3D printing, and offer classes to introduce people to the art and science of 3D printing.
Media coverage 
Makerbot was featured on the TV show The Colbert Report in August 2011. They sent a bust of Stephen Colbert, printed on a Makerbot 3D printer, into the stratosphere attached to a helium filled weather balloon.
Closed source controversy 
Around September 2012 the company stated that for their new Replicator 2 they "will not share the way the physical machine is designed or our GUI". This departure from the previous open-source hardware model has been criticized by part of the community, including co-founder and now former employee, Zachary Smith.
See also 
- Make Magazine Online. "Reprap Research Foundation: get yer Reprap parts here". Retrieved 2011-03-09.
- Fosdem.org. "Interview: Adrian Bowyer". Retrieved 2011-03-09.
- MakerBot is pioneering distributed manufacturing! Get paid to make parts for future MakerBots.
- Feld, Brad (August 23, 2011). "Foundry Group Invests In MakerBot Industries". Business Insider. Retrieved August 24, 2011.
- The Daily Mail Online Online (2011-03-02). "Tested, the photocopier that'll one day make a Stradivarius". London. Retrieved 2011-03-09.
- MakerBot Blog. "Hello world!". Retrieved 2011-03-09.
- Thingiverse (2009-04-19). "CupCake CNC". Retrieved 2011-03-09.
- MakerBot Blog (2010-09-25). "MakerBot's New 3D Printer: The Thing-O-Matic!". Retrieved 2011-03-09.
- MakerBot Store. "MakerBot Thing-O-Matic Kit". Retrieved 2011-03-09.
- Google Patents (2012-07-24). "AUTOMATED 3D BUILD PROCESSES". Retrieved 2012-07-24.
- "Makerbot Blog".
- "Belt Forum". brucedjones. Retrieved 11 December 2011.
- "Makerbot Wiki". Makerbot. Retrieved 30 November 2011.
- "Objet Desktop 3D Printer". Objet. Retrieved 11 December 2011.
- "Dimension 3D Printer". Dimension. Retrieved 11 December 2011.
- "Makerbot Support". Makerbot. Retrieved 11 December 2011.
- "Makerbot Filament". Makerbot. Retrieved 11 December 2011.
- "Makerbot Thing-O-Matic". Makerbot. Retrieved 11 December 2011.
- "MakerBot Thing-O-Matic – Support material test". Creative Tools. Retrieved 11 December 2011.
- MakerBot Blog (2010-03-22). "MakerBot Cupcake Heated Build Platform v2.0". Retrieved 2011-03-09.
- Thingiverse (2010-03-22). "MakerBot Cupcake Heated Build Platform v2.0". Retrieved 2011-03-09.
- RepRap Wiki. "Generation 3 Electronics". Retrieved 2011-03-09.
- Hibbard, Laura (2011-08-18). "MakerBot Sends Stephen Colbert's Head Into Space (VIDEO)". Huffington Post.
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