Metamáquina, founded by Filipe Moura, Felipe Sanches, and Rodrigo Rodrigues da Silva, put a statement on their website reacting to Makerbot’s announcement that they’re stepping away from open source principles with their Replicator II.
For a long time, we’ve been inspired by the work of Makerbot, a pioneer US company in the home 3D printing market based on free software and open hardware. Both Makerbot and Metamáquina were started in similar contexts, with roots in collaborative laboratories of the Do-It-Yourself community. Both were born out of the initiative of hackerspace members – from NYCResistor, in New York, and from Garoa Hacker Clube, in São Paulo, Brazil, respectively.
We have often cited the interaction between the Makerbot and Ultimaker projects (among others) as an example of how making a project open can be economically viable and how collaborative practices, apart from their inherent social value, are also a more intelligent way to build technologies.
However, this week’s news regarding the launch of a new 3d printer model by Makerbot included the launch of a proprietary software application (more precisely, a proprietary GUI frontend for underlying free software components) and with rumors that the Replicator 2 hardware schematics will not be freely published, as previous models’ schematics used to be.
We’re sad to discover that we can no longer regard Makerbot as an example and inspiration as we used to. We are frustrated with these changes and we hope that public disapproval can convince Makerbot executives to change their mind and return to their previous practices. Anyway, it seems that the community’s trust has been lost, and this is usually quite difficult to recover.