3D Printing & Imaging
MakerBot Lays Off 100 Employees, Closes All Retail Stores

Replicator2

MakerBot, the company that became a leading voice in desktop 3D printing by taking desktop additive manufacturing from build-it-yourself kits to refined consumer devices, has just let go of 20% of its workforce and closed its brick-and-mortar stores.

According to reporting by Motherboard, the reduction represents about 100 employees of the Brooklyn-based company that launched in 2009 and was later purchased in 2013 by industrial 3D printing giant Stratasys for $403 million. During that time, the company has made changes of original and key personnel, most recently seeing founder and CEO Bre Pettis stepping down to take a new position with Stratasys, and his successor Jenny Lawton doing the same thing.

Still, this is by far the largest batch of layoffs for the company.

In June, 3D printing giant Stratasys announced that it was buying maker-focused, consumer 3D printing firm MakerBot for $403 million. That's MakerBot co-founder and CEO Bre Pettis, left, shaking hands with Stratasys CEO David Reis.  The deal was the first high-profile example of a traditional manufacturing company buying a funky, consumer-facing maker brand.

A new announcement on MakerBot’s website this afternoon explains, “Today, we at MakerBot are re-organizing our business in order to focus on what matters most to our customers. As part of this, we have implemented expense reductions, downsized our staff and closed our three MakerBot retail locations.”

Stratasys also announced a $100 million write-down on Makerbot’s valuation in February.

The now-shuttered brick-and-mortar stores, located in Manhattan, Boston, and Greenwich, Connecticut, followed an Apple Store model, with sales, demos, classes, and even providing in-store printing services. No news yet on their retail partnerships with outlets such as Home Depot.

18 thoughts on “MakerBot Lays Off 100 Employees, Closes All Retail Stores

  1. Not surprising. When you get bought out by a giant, patent hoarding ‘industry leader’ and start making your product less open source, you will lose the makers. 3D printing is open source, and not expensive. Making it expensive by buying the name will not work anymore. The beginning of the end for the monopolizing giants. I am sorry for makerbot, but not from right now. From a few years ago when they sold out.

  2. I wish I never would have purchased a Makerbot printer. Bad product and worst customer service, good riddance.

  3. I’m not surprised – they forgot how to innovate and who their customers were. They haven’t come up with any new products recently – they just try to promote their current overpriced offerings. The rest of the field is working to create new ways to print that are cheaper, more reliable, more exciting. And their scanner could have been popular if they didn’t price that 10 times too high for the quality offered.

    1. The answer lies right there in the article, they followed an Apple Store model. Apple users don’t typically know how things work, that’s the very reason they buy Apple products, because they’re easy to use. The type of people that are going to buy a 3D printer are the type of people that like to build their own computers, write their own programs, make their own mechanical parts etc… makers!

      1. I think you’re on to something there. That would explain some of Makerbot’s behavior. Problem is that even the $100K printers are not easy to use or 100% reliable and not everyone wants or needs a 3D printer the way they do a phone. And you could buy a used car for less than a Makerbot printer. The Apple Store model might work in another decade or so. The software, hardware, and materials tech just isn’t there yet for a 3D printer to be a consumer-grade product.

      2. I know how things work and I used to work for Apple for 7 years. Thing about me is that I come from the days of punched cards when you have to know programming to use a computer. I use Linux, Windows, Unix, and OSX. So you can take your mono-OS centric ass back to school and learn about everything. Not all users devote 100% of their time to one OS. I never have and never will.

        1. Easy there, I don’t think they meant to be so offensive as that. I too am a maker / nerd / polyglot / multi os person who uses a nice macbook pro for a daily driver. Where else can you get a unix ( unix enough at least ) shell and the ability to run photoshop on one platform, without hassle?

          I think the point was that apple is all about the ‘just works’ philosophy – and 3D printing isn’t there yet.

          I’m not sure it will be there for a long time, even if you make 3D printing trivially easy, people still have to think up and design the things they want to print.

          1. Everyone is about the ‘just works’ philosophy It’s arguable who gets that shit right. Stop the devils advocate and the passive aggressive crap and recognize. Once again, I use everything and so do my co-workers. I’ll use something to learn and because it’s fun. Why would I want computing to be a chore. All of the computer OSes, even your precious little Linux is like playing with crayons to me since the command line was the first thing that I touched way back in 1982.

  4. Still loving my MBR2. Never had a problem, I continue building and innovating with the awesome tools they built.

  5. This was a long time coming. They should never have sold out and then gone closed source. It was a self-inflicted wound that removed them from the cutting edge of developers and makers who share ideas freely and constantly update, innovate, invent, and tinker. I’m glad I bought an Ultimaker 3 years ago. It is still going strong and though priced higher than some of the cheaper offers, it comes with great support, a great community, and endless tinker-ability. I too am worried about thingiverse. There was talk of making a more permanently open source offering back when Makerbot first got bought out, started making changes to the EULA on thingiverse, and started rebranding it as the Makerbot Thingiverse. I still come across a file I’d like to download only to see it was removed in protest. I hate to say it, cause Bre Pettis always seemed like the real deal (a maker), but I think the dollar signs blinded him and his convictions took a backseat to money. What a shame. So many jobs lost because of the greed of a few.

  6. Boy yeah, anyone who has watched ‘Print the Legend’ is probably not super surprised by this. (If you haven’t, it’s really interesting and on Netflix)

    I hate to say it, but I also think it’s a commentary on the public-at-large’s demand for 3D printing. Meaning, it’s probably just not very big. I’ve been monitoring the ‘Dremel 3D printer’ display at my local big box home improvement store and I certainly don’t see a lot of stock moving and have already seen some stuff on clearance. I know it’s not a Makerbot display, but it’s in the same ballpark.

    I think if Makerbot had been able to leap into the arms of an eagerly waiting public while alienating the makers at the root of the community like it did, it wouldn’t have been as big of a problem. But that doesn’t seem to be what’s happened. The general public’s reaction seems to be a rather large yawn.

    I really don’t think the public’s appetite for these things will ever approach the level of say ink jet printers. There’s a world of different between printing out a banner that says ‘Happy Birthday April!’ and dealing with any kind of CAD program and the numerous issues one deals with when 3D printing something (I’m looking at you shrinkage) to make a little ABS this or that.

  7. Here is what is really going down

    Stratasys bought Makerbot for the sole purpose of stealing and patenting as much 3D print technology as possible and if (when) they succeed they will bankrupt Makerbot and lock those patents away in a safe so no one can compete against them ……

    Then they can go back to selling $1000 machines for $10,000 again ……

  8. The next stage is they want to kiss and make up. I go back to the GEC Lyons Leo, in 1963, and agree with Max, these sharks should lose the lot. You can’t take the work of hundreds of goodwill collaborators and suddenly claim its mine, mine, all mine! And that means the other makers should collaborate to challenge their patents aggressively, returning the favour by kicking them when they’re down in return – the theft of opensource heritage deserves no less. In mediaeval times, they’d have been hauled through the streets on a hurdle while the population chucked anything they liked at them, from the contents of chamber-pots to dead cats to rotten food to the paving stones.

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Mike Senese is the Executive Editor of Make: magazine. He is also a TV host, starring in various engineering and science shows for Discovery Channel, including Punkin Chunkin, How Stuff Works, and Catch It Keep It.

An avid maker, Mike spends his spare time tinkering with electronics, doing amateur woodworking, and attempting to cook the perfect pizza.

View more articles by Mike Senese