MakerBot a Potted History
We thought it would be good to trace the history of MakerBot 3D Printers with a history of MakerBot and of the different machines they have produced together with the changing vision of the company.
Consumer 3D Printing
Way back in 3D printing Time the Cupcake CNC was introduced in April 2009 by MakerBot. Back then Bre Pettis and his co-directors had a vision of open source technology which would be owned by everybody.
When a a key patent on FDM technology expired, MakerBot launched and were at the forefront of bringing 3D printing technology into the mainstream. Building on the success of RepRap, begun by Dr. Adrian Bowyer, a senior lecturer in mechanical engineering at the University of Bath in the U.K., Dr Bowyer founded the RepRap project earlier in 2004. Like the RepRap movement, MakerBot made open-source DIY kits for people wanting to build their own 3D printers or 3D printed products. The company also created the online file library, Thingiverse, which allowed users to submit and download 3D printable files. Thingiverse went on to become the largest online 3D printing community and 3D Print file repository in the world.
10 years later, 3D printing was still new to many consumers, but embraced widely by industry as it is three times older than that and utilises many different technologies and materials in the 4th Industrial Revolution. Checkout How Old is 3D Printing on our blog.
This early Cupcake machine was replaced by the Thing-O-Matic a year later after launching in September 2010 with improved extrusion.
Under the direction of Bre Pettis CEO of MakerBot before its acquisition by Stratasys the company improved the machines and in 2012 launched the Replicator 2 and alongside this the Replicator 2X (for experimental) which was optimised for ABS extrusion had dual extruders allowing for model and separate support extrusion or printing in two colours in the same model.
On June 19, 2013, Stratasys Incorporated acquired MakerBot. The acquisition provided that MakerBot would operate as a distinct brand and subsidiary of Stratasys, serving the consumer and desktop market segments. When acquired, MakerBot had supplied 22000 printers.
Industrial 3D Printing
MakerBot was re-organised by Stratasys, and the emphasis became repeatable accuracy. The new owners steered the company more toward the Professional and Industrial markets.
The Smart Extruder was launched with the next two iterations of devices which is a unique, magnetised unit which simplified hot-end replacement, enabled switching extruders for use with different materials and made MakerBot 3D printing less a nerdy tinkering operation and open to more potential users.
The Smart Extruder was replaced in early 2016 by the Smart Extruder+ which was the most tested device ever
The Z18 3D Printer was released alongside the Replicator Mini Compact and 5th Generation Replicator in January 2014.
The Z18 has a massive build volume and heated chamber allowing print of FDM materials PLA and Tough™. The Z18 is big. It allows Print of BIG, functional prototypes in the massive 42,000 cm3 build volume. At launch it was 1.7x bigger build volume than the next largest competitor and 1.2x faster print times offering simple operation of an industrial level device. No leveling or tinkering, just BIG prints!
The Z18 offers the best price-to-performance ratio in the extra-large, professional 3D printer category.
The 5th Generation replaced the Replicator 2 , itself launched in September 2012 hot on the heels of its predecessor the Replicator.
The Replicator had only been launched in January of that year.
The 5th Generation Replicator has subsequently been replaced by the Replicator+ in September 2016.
Launched with new slicing software called MakerBot Print. This new machine smoothed workflow in the Industrial landscape as it could handle native CAD files.
Education 3D printing
The MakerBot Mini Compact was replaced at the same time by the Mini+.
The MakerBot Mini+ was made obsolete early Spring 2019, leaving a gap in the market for a MakerBot Education machine.
METHOD — A MANUFACTURING WORKSTATION
MakerBot have introduced two new 3D Printers in the last 12 months 2018/19 with patented Stratasys Technology including circulated heated chambers allowing for print of true ABS and ASA materials ( unlike formulations which desktop 3d printers use). The Method platform prints in high precision and is MakerBots affirmation of its placement in the Industrial / professional Additive Manufacturing channel. Take a look at The Method Workstation
Method - printable materials PET-G; Tough™; PLA; Nylon (heated Chamber 60°C)
Method X - printable materials ABS; ASA plus PET-G; Tough™; PLA; Nylon (heated Chamber 100°C)
MakerBot Education Upgrade
MakerBot SKETCH CLASSROOM™ 3D Printer setup is bundled with the software required and an app to set up and control the printers
- 2 MakerBot SKETCH™ 3D Printers
- MakerBot Cloud™
- 2 Seats in MakerBot Certification™ for Educators
- 6 MakerBot PLA Spools
- 4 Build Plates
- 2 Spatulas
- 2 Snips
Who knows what 2021 has in store for MakerBot?