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

MakerBot CupCake

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 key patent on FDM technology expired, MakerBot launched and was 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.

Bre Pettis The former CEO had a particular mission for 3D printing

This early Cupcake machine was replaced by the Thing-O-Matic a year later after launching in September 2010 with improved extrusion.

Thing O Matic An update to its predecessor with more reliable extruder

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.

Replicator 2X Ability to print in two colours or support and model materials

Bre Pettis launched the Replicator 2

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.

Smart Extruder+

Smart Extruder+ A magnetised unit simplifying operation

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.

Z18 Massive Build Volume with Heated Chamber

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.

MakerBot 5th Generation Replicator The 5th Generation was a move to simpler 3D print processing

The 5th Generation replaced the Replicator 2 , itself launched in September 2012 hot on the heels of its predecessor the Replicator.

MakerBot Replicator+ MakerBot Replicator+ 30% faster print time than the MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer (5th Generation) with 25% larger build volume

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

MakerBot Mini Compact 3D printer MakerBot Mini Compact 3D printer

The MakerBot Mini Compact was replaced at the same time by the Mini+.

MakerBot Mini+ MakerBot Mini+

The MakerBot Mini+ was made obsolete early Spring 2019, leaving a gap in the market for a MakerBot Education machine.


Method & Method X METHOD & METHOD X

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

MakerBot Method MakerBot METHOD with Stratasys patents

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)

In the summer of 2020 MakerBot introduced new materials Nylon Carbon Fiber 6/66 simultaneously  launching the Model 1C Extruder together with METHOD Carbon Fiber Editions including this extruder and then in September Nylon Carbon Fiber 12

Software upgrades and Cloud APP Innovation

All the while MakerBot strives to improve the customer experience with the slicing software MakerBot Print to enhance the customer experience and make 3D Printing a Tinker-Free experience, which opens up access to a wider market. Whilst also maintaining remote visibility of the printers also accessible by APP

MakerBot Print which is powered by GrabCAD can handle the following native CAD files:
  • SOLIDWORKS (*.sldprt ; *.sldsn)
  • Inventor (*.ipt; *.iam)
  • IGES (*.ifes ; *.igs)
  • STEP AP203/214 (*.step ; *.stp)
  • CATIA (8.CATPart ; *.CATProduct)
  • Wavefront Object (*.obj)
  • Unigraphics/NX (*.prt)
  • Solid Edge (*.par ; *.asm)
  • ProE/Creo (*.prt ; *.prt.* ; *.asm,* ; *.asm.*)
  • Parasolid (*.x_t ; *.a_b )
  • VRML (*.wrl)

MakerBot CloudPrint™

As the world re-aligns in the 4th Industrial Revolution, MakerBot launched CloudPrint™ which overcomes the issues of remote workers, allowing access, collaboration and control of files and the 3D Printer fleet for business and education

MakerBot Education Upgrade

The SKETCH Classroom™ was launched in Texas on February 4th 2020 and we are receiving very high levels of enquiry. UK Shipping will begin mid-Spring (April) The bundle is priced specifically for the Education market.
A fully enclosed 3D printer with particulate filter and improved cloud based software controlSKETCH Classroom™ Dual 3D printer Setup with training and even more control with MakerBot Cloud

 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 CloudPrint™
 2 Seats in MakerBot Certification™ for Educators
10 Seats in MakerBot Certification™ for Students
 6 MakerBot PLA Spools
 4 Build Plates
 2 Spatulas
 2 Snips

The Future

Who knows what 2021 has in store for MakerBot?