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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.

John Baichtal

My interests include writing, electronics, RPGs, scifi, hackers & hackerspaces, 3D printing, building sets & toys. @johnbaichtal nerdage.net


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Comments

  1. History repeats itself, maybe you don’t remember but Microsoft did the same thing with the first versions of MS word. They contributed and learned from the community, then locked up every idea they ‘stole’ and called it their own and sued anyone that disagreed. But that’s what growing up is all about isn’t it. You learn for free, and then you exploit others with what you have learned. Better hope you are a fount of ideas. A mimic will always lose to a creative person. The 3D Printer market is about to explode, in a large part because of Makers. How long do you think it will take before 3D Printers are being sold at Best Buy. Not long…better hope the go public and buy some stock.

    1. HW guru says:

      No, in general this is what “savvy” corporate business people do, and not the researchers/engineers/hobbyists who genuinely improve your living standards through years of study.

      Microsoft’s policy over the past 30 years has been to embrace, extend, and extinguish. They are now even trying to contaminate JavaScript with proprietary IP since Silverlight failed, and Makezine was advised not “to feed the 900lb bears”.

      Makerbot has distinguished itself from RepRap, and people should respect their business decision. However, our open libraries will now fall under a contaminating GPL licence rather than LGPL or Apache. Therefore, Makerbot has to be 100% sure the code base is not sourced from other peoples work.

      People should stop complaining, and simply build a better RepRap.
      =P

      1. Mo says:

        http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:31412 A better RepRap. Will also work as a general purpose cartiesian robot capable of things beyond 3D printing once completely developed.

        3D standalone printing is a dead end – the community needs a factory on their desk of which 3D printing is a component but not the end all.

        I was very disappointed to see Bre be a self declared inventor and king of 3D printing in last weeks Time magazine. This level of arrogance and narcisism will implode on them.

    2. It’s true, with this move makerbot left their Makers/OSHW community pond and jumped straight into the end-user/consumer ocean, a dangerous move , if something goes wrong (such as a bigger fish releasing a better/cheaper printer) there’s no going back…

  2. Bill says:

    So, let me get this straight… an unknown company from somewhere uses Makerbot’s change in their policies as a way to get free media attention… got it.

    1. brother moose says:

      My thoughts exactly. I don’t see how Makerbot owes anyone anything. If you contribute to an idea/project do you now own it? Those that are so sure it’s a mistake can always reserve the right to have the last laugh for whatever that’s worth. You would think that Makerbot has decided to build it’s machine with slave laborers fed only puppies. What I want them to do is find a way to make it cheaper so I can buy one.

    2. Remmar Gorpa says:

      Let me get this straight. It is unknown because you don’t know about it? If it ain’t American, it ain’t? Sure, makes sense.

  3. rahere says:

    Doesn’t make them wrong, though. When Microsoft insist on checking I’ve not pirated their software, in utter ignorance that they have patented work I out into the public domain in the first place – I was programng in the mid 1960s, when all we did was freeware, for exactly the same reason – then there’s something wrong. What we should be doing now is learning from it and refuse to allow Makerbum pride of place.

  4. Mike says:

    In the end what the “community” thinks will hardly have much impact. The big business attitude of throw enough money into propaganda(oops PR) and we can sell sh#t to pigs, always wins the sheep over.

  5. Greg says:

    Isn’t the Makerbot just moving to more of a “mainstream” audience/customer? I bought one of their first printers and was really bummed about the difficulty in setting the unit up and the difficult software interface. Sure, as makers, this wasn’t an issue – it was part of the fun. However, for the regular Joe out there who just wants to print out a 3d version of something they made on Google Sketchup, the thing needs to be plug and play. If the dream of a “3D printer on every desk” is ever to be realized, it will need to be user friendly and affordable. Seems like they’re going in exactly the correct direction.

    Those makers were able to turn something they love into something they can make a living off of. Something we can all aspire to.

    1. Felipe Sanches says:

      In order to make a better piece of software or, to make an application be “plug and play” one does not need to hide its source code. Hiding the source code as a secret (even if with the purpose of avoiding bare carbon-copy competition, as Bre mentioned a few times this week) also results in denying the possibility of user-driven innovation. That’s the main issue raised by Metamáquina’s statement: users lose freedom and autonomy when they lose access to source code and that’s a bad thing from the perspective of free/libre software activists. Thus, these are the reasons why the company blames Makerbot’s release of MakerWare (a proprietary tool) and that’s why we’re commited to sticking to code-sharing practices in order to fullfill Metamáquina’s mission.

  6. kakungulu says:

    Grow up. Nobody owes you anything. What “trust” has to do with anything? Be thankful for the free meals and fun collaboration and move on. I’m still not sure about getting the new Replicator, but either way, good luck Makerbot.

  7. danny says:

    I don’t think Makerbot owe me anything personally. (because I have contributed nothing but conversation to the “reprap” project(s))
    What I do think is that this is a huge slap in the face for a globally huge movement of 3d printers (people owning and producing printers contributing ideas and designs).

    Lets face it, Makerbot didn’t actually really invent anything, they took a working/proven concept, they took funding from reprap community people, they started out just building repstrap machines, and that’s all that they are still doing.
    They took ideas from a community, and put ideas back into a community. their business grew not only on their own work, but by the work of hundreds of people all over the world contributing ideas.

    It’s been years since Makerbot started on the whole acting like they invented 3d printing with filament, when really the truth couldn’t be further.

    Makerbot owe me nothing, but they owe the community that created them everything, (pretty much their eintire livelihood.)

    I can’t see this ending well for them, going closed source is only going to lead to them reaching dead-ends and being unable to u-turn quickly like other printer companies.
    Also their price keeps going up.

    they are either going to end up as Microsoft, (by which I mean they’ll be loved by the common man for producing easy to use stuff. albeit a little expensive, whilst at the same time being hated by the geeks, whose complex solution does what they do faster/better/cheaper but with a steeper learning curve, and the geeks remember the history too regarding early business practices etc.)

    or they’ll just go bust.

  8. mpilchfamily says:

    Unfortunately no one has found a way to make open source hardware a successful business model for any company larger then a small business. Any successful small business soon grows to the point where it has gain enough notoriety in there field that they need to take measures to protect there business. Until a better way is tried, tested and successful the best way to accomplish this is to keep things closed up a bit.

    Makerbot hasn’t stopped open source hardware and software all together. They are still offering the first gen Replicator. My only problem is they haven’t said weather or not they will continue to develop an open source solution as well as offer there new more professional grade products. If they will not continue to support the open source movement in any way then we have lost a would be great example of how a company can grow and still contribute to the open source movement.

    1. I don’t agree, isn’t sparkfun the counter-example? It’s much bigger than makerbot,and still open source to the core!

      1. rocketguy1701 says:

        Yup. Sparkfun gets it. Makerbot has essentially given themselves a vote of no confidence, by saying that they can’t compete without legal help. In the end, I will go with open source not due to the ideology (which tastes better, true) but because it brings the best of humanity (creative power unmatchable by corporate models) to whatever the project is. I have a Replicator (1), but my next machine I’ll probably build myself with makerslide and other reprap style components.

  9. Now, forgive me if I’m wrong, but I thought one of the core ideas of open source was “Fine. Copy our product. That’s not where we’re expecting to make money anyway. Our money comes from service and support, which we’ll provide cheaper and better than anything you can do.” If you cave at the first sign of somebody copying your idea, how committed to open source were you in the first place?

    1. Mike says:

      I think the biggest problem is that a former poster child for the open source hardware community can no longer be put forward as an example of the good that open source can bring.
      It may be crisis time for the key proponents of open source hardware. I’m not saying that this alone can kill the movement but it must surely be a handicap to further growth.

      1. rocketguy1701 says:

        How would it hinder further growth? That growth is occurring regardless of what Makerbot does. They are one very visible but hardly overwhelmingly significant company. Look at SparkFun, their growth alone utterly swamps Makerbot. I would classify this as an annoyance and somewhat dubious move by Makerbot, not some sort of vastly significant marker of “things to come”. The numbers don’t wash. That’s like saying a car is a deathtrap because a hubcap fell off.

        I should note that I own a Replicator 1, full disclosure. That said, I sure ain’t going for the Rep 2. My next printer will be built using the excellent work going on in the OSH community, and run with whatever software that I find to work well, not necessarily from Makerbot.

        1. Mike says:

          Fair call but I’m not so sure sparkfun is the same thing as makerbot. Makerbot make a machine complete and ready to use while sparkfun sell parts to make machines.
          You could say they offer examples how to use their parts but do they provide complete design files to build a machine or instrument of any kind?
          I think this is confusing the maker movement which is certainly thriving whereas the open source hardware movement is at it’s infantile stage and people are still trying to clarify what it means and the whole thing has not been tested thoroughly.
          The Makerbot issue is certainly a good test for it. Maybe it’s just a minor hiccup or maybe it will cause some to with hold their contributions. Time will tell.

  10. [...] because of Makers. How long do you think it will take before 3D Printers are being sold at Best Buy.blog.makezine.com/…/brazilian-3d-printer-company-weighs-i… Categories: Buy 3d [...]

  11. rahere says:

    What does rankle is that they’ve commandeered the Maker connotation. The Maker community is about making things, not making profit.

  12. [...] 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 …blog.makezine.com/…/brazilian-3d-printer-company-weighs-i… [...]

  13. MAKE | says:

    [...] the piece Brazilian 3D Printer Company Weighs in on the Makerbot Controversy, Greg says: Isn’t the Makerbot just moving to more of a “mainstream” audience/customer? I [...]

  14. [...] the piece Brazilian 3D Printer Company Weighs in on the Makerbot Controversy, Greg [...]

  15. shiner says:

    If MakerBot products contain any components gleaned from the community at large, claiming sole ownership and intellectual rights to said component they should be litigated against. Plagiarizing the ideas of others and then bullying the community, including the source of the ideas is criminal, The reason M.S. is so large now is because they weren’t called to account in the early stages of their monopolization. This is the beginning, now is the time to take seriously the need to safeguard the rights of the open source community, I suggest any one who has contributed any ideas, and who plans on doing so in the future, keep detailed records of their ideas, including emails, forum posts, blog’s, vlog’s, and photos/video plans etc of any design, prototype or abstract idea. This in order for the community at large protect the open source status that they originally intended. Remember an individual or entity cannot patent or trade mark something that they or others have already shared to the world for free. It is also illegal to patent or trade mark the ideas of others claiming them as your own. MakerBot as a company has every right to protect THEIR ORIGINAL IDEAS. But never to steal the designs or ideas of others, using forums or any other social media as a source for ideas they mean to cash in on.

    1. shiner says:

      The above being said, I think the products of MakerBot, along with the parallel products and designs from other makers, are a really cool, and timely addition to the arsenal of any inventor/maker. I would like to get my hands on a 3D printer that is well made, inexpensive, and from company that provides excellent service post sale. Notice I did not say make. Though I design and build many things, I do not have the time to make my own 3D printer, and so am forced, like many others, for now, to look for one to purchase. MakerBot products are appealing to me in a business sense, because they provide a tool I need at a price that’s easier to afford than say those $75,000.00 industrial machines. That being said, I hope that, what ever they do as a company, they continue to provide an inexpensive, user friendly product to the masses while staying respectful of the maker community from which they spawned. Allowing other enterprising makers to develop similar products and devices without all the despicable legal maneuvering we see going on between the Apple and Android folks. In order for us to share our ideas in a respectful and honest manner, we must understand and accept that, for many, this is a business. And as such requires a certain amount of legal protections in order to be competitive in the open market. This can, and should be done without squashing or absconding with the ideas of others. So, the actions of the MakerBot folks, so far, does not, in itself, mean that they intend to plagiarize the ideas and advances of the maker community, or monopolize the industry. Only time will tell.

  16. Craig says:

    You geeks forget who the market is, makerbot have hit the nail on the head. Developing a slick “out of the box” machine, ready t o print, for the masses. Imagine if we had to buy computers in pieces and assemble them. Good on makerbot.

    1. shiner says:

      I can’t speak for all, but I’m no geek Craig. I grew up on a Harley, sweat grease in the Army motorpool with my dad and I broke my back working 15-18 hour days 6-7 days a week since high school, hell before high school. I’ve built everything from jigs to homes, I’ve laid brick and marble, and eagerly learned anything from anyone willing to teach. I have never once took credit for the work, designs or ideas of any of those sources. I now design and build tools for my and other trades.

      I don’t think having the capacity for creative and complex thought and the desire to express those thoughts via a device or design makes one a geek. (originally defined as a socially inept, or unfashionable person. I know it also has positive connotations, however the context and timber of your post leads me to surmise that was not your intent.)

      Think about it, you join your local community center, “Center A”, and there, along with hundreds of other hard working individuals, even families, you help devise an inexpensive tool for completing a certain task that would otherwise be prohibitively expensive, this tool now doing for pennies on the $ what would have require a million dollar industrial tool prior. Now an individual member or group of members from your community, those with the most $ and granted one of the most advanced versions of the community design, decides to break with the group, taking with them much of the group effort incorporated into their own designs, and then proceeds to take as their moniker the groups name calling themselves “CenterA-Tech”, going so far as to copyright, trademark and patent what was originally a good faith community effort. CenterA-Tech then takes sole credit for this community project in the media. Threatening, by default,(by their registering the designs and name as they have) litigation against any of their former community if they use anything similar to the moniker they have now taken or include in their own designs what was theirs as community to begin with.

      I would say that would be just cause for at least a little ire on the part of the community that gave birth to many of the ideas incorporated in the tools design.

      The whole affair should have been dealt with much better, with more transparency, and a weighty, respectful nod to the community at large.

      The designers at MakerBot have every right to profit from their own designs, that is correct. That is the basis of free enterprise. It is not, however, correct under that system to reap profit on the designs of others without clear contractual consent, even if that design is “open source”. That is vulgar, dishonest and anti-competitive. If you contributed to the design, you have every right to feel however you want about their (MakerBot’s) use of YOUR contribution, as it is for any of the others in the MAKER community.

  17. The Cat's Out of the Bag says:

    I wouldn’t be too concerned about anything that any particular company does with this technology. Here’s an excellent analysis of where things are headed by someone who ought to know (Makerbot and RepRap both get a mention, but I can’t wait until we can 3-D print using digital materials; that’s when things will REALLY get interesting): http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/138154/neil-gershenfeld/how-to-make-almost-anything

    1. Bob says:

      Hi. i am bob

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