MakerBot Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Faulty Extruders

3D Printing & Imaging Workshop
MakerBot Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Faulty Extruders
The Makerbot Smart Extruder Has Been A Known Failure Point For Makerbot's Newest Machines.
The MakerBot Smart Extruder Has Been A Known Failure Point For MakerBot’s Newest Machines.

MakerBot grew from a fun project by three friends in a hackerspace in Brooklyn, to being THE name in desktop 3D printing. Over the last few years, though, that name has been drug through the mud; from the community backlash when they decided to go closed source after building their reputation on open source projects, to a series of problem-ridden products (Digitizer and Replicator Gen 5). Now, the Federal court system is getting involved, as a class action lawsuit is being filed against MakerBot and their parent company, Stratasys.

The suit claims that MakerBot and Stratasys knowingly sold customers products with issues that would cause performance problems, while using these sales to show market growth to investors. By the time the truth of these issues had come to light, shareholders had lost millions of dollars.

At the heart of these issues is the MakerBot Smart Extruder. The Smart Extruder is a device that was touted as a way to simplify 3D printing by automatically leveling the build plate and pausing the print if the filament jams or runs out. In reality, the smart extruder has been known for jamming and clogging easily and causing degradation of print quality over time.

Top Infill Degradation Over Time From Replicator Gen 5 By Josh Ajima
Top Infill Degradation Over Time From Replicator Gen 5 By Josh Ajima

MakerBot’s initial solution to the problem was to take advantage of the hot swappable nature of the Smart Extruder and offer customers three packs of replacement extruders for the “low, low” price of $495 (a savings of $10 per extruder over buying them one at a time). To go along with this, MakerBot also started offering a $50 credit towards your next extruder purchase when you return your “worn” Smart Extruder.

Over the past few months, MakerBot has claimed that they have greatly improved the reliability of their Smart Extruder and have fixed issues with customer support to help those still having problems. Their overall return numbers are starting to look like this might actually be the case also. The question now for the courts is, “were the actions taken by MakerBot a ‘fraudulent scheme’ committed against their customers and shareholders?”  The full filing document can be downloaded as a PDF if you would like to dive into all the details, thanks to Adafruit for making it available.

19 thoughts on “MakerBot Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Faulty Extruders

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  2. John Daniels says:

    I have so little sympathy for MakerBot Industries. As this article points out, they have made a lot of mistakes since going closed source and being bought out. They are a good example of how corporate mentality and capitalism fail the customers. When things were open and money was not the bottom line, they had great products. I very nearly bought an original open source MakerBot. I’m glad I went with the Ultimaker instead.

  3. Sean Henderson says:

    If maker bot can be sued for the reasons listed above, then it is high time that
    Microsoft be sued as well. I do not think that Microsoft has ever sold a product that did not need a patch right out of the box.

    1. Jim Myers says:

      There is a huge difference between needing to issue patches for software bugs and KNOWINGLY selling defective products to defraud investors and customers. Also a big difference between issuing FREE PATCHES to fix software bugs and CHARGING PEOPLE to fix your KNOWN DEFECTIVE PRODUCT.

      1. John Daniels says:

        Very true. The “solution” to the extruder head problem is to buy 3 packs of problematic extruder heads that you know are going to go bad after a certain amount of use, for $500!! That’s a quarter of the overblown price of the whole damn printer. Rest In Pieces, MakerBot.

        To anyone who bought a MakerBot and is wondering what to do, I recommend finding an opensource 3rd party printable extruder and go with that. I’ve upgraded my printer with parts I printed after building it multiple times and it keeps getting better.

      2. Rahere says:

        Microsoft nicked a piece of software,, which I had put into the public domain. What was 8 bytes in assembler became over 100k – with my code, right down to the ever so carefully placed NOP fingerprint in the middle, at its heart. And claimed it was theirs.

  4. rocketryguy says:

    As a makerbot owner, I’m finding myself somewhat gleeful at this news.

    They had the name, and 3rd rate engineering, which was excusable when it was basically a collaboration via open source. Then they got all big for their britches, closed source (admitting that they couldn’t compete on merit), and went for a payday on image rather than substance. My replicator was cool at first, then the amount of effort and money to keep it running just escalated to the point of futility. And I had to modify the crap out of it just to make it work reliably, which helped until the motherboard blew, due to a known bad voltage regulator design. 1st year EE majors wouldn’t have made the mistakes they made with the mightyboard.

    Pettis always annoyed me from day one, showing his lack of character and full on hollywood mode before finally walking into the sunset with his payday job.

    While I don’t know if it was deliberate or just bad execution, this is still just desserts for these losers.

  5. CarlosLMcCoy says:

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    ……………….. Find Get More </b

  6. Jim Myers says:

    Could not happen to a more deserving group of crooks and shysters.

  7. Andy III says:

    Alright…content for a ‘Print the Legend’ sequel!

    Title ideas…

    ‘Print the Legend II: Maximum Schadenfreude’
    ‘Print the Legend II: The Customers Strike Back’
    ‘Print the Legend II: Class Action Warfare’

  8. Cark Jackson says:

    So much truth about these assholes. Killed their production staff with pointless overtime hyper-strict attendance policies just to cut over half of its employee back in April. Of course those mainly in the entry level and right before a measly 3% raise afforded to employees who had survived a year in that hell hole. Everyday leading up to that was littered with returned and broken down machines that needed to be “reworked”. Even their largest machine the Z-18 priced at over $7,000 didn’t make proper sales, I think no less than 1,000 of those machines alone are sitting in the warehouse right now Some being there since the model’s inception early last year. Sorry but that turned from a promising electronics company from when I started 2 years ago to nothing but a bunch of cut-throat liars that took advantage of their employees…and now some millionaires were pulled in for that ride (boo-hoo).

  9. Lucky Phil says:

    You want to try being a dealer, stuck between customers who have been hyped to the max by Makerbots PR department and the company supplying goods not tested in PreProduction. Then after years of struggling to help customers, getting shafted by Makerbot going to big distributors with no tech support experience.
    Replicator 1: Power Regulators fail quickly (chinese ripoffs introduced workaround solution!)
    Replicator 2: Plungers pushing filament on to drive gear wear out in the first 14-20 hours of use. Thermocouplers fall apart or wires break. Plastic beds warp over time
    5th Generation: WiFi not working for months after release … and the Smart Extruders which have got better, but still require fiddling with custom profiles to get working, only just made these variables part of the software instead of tweaking text.
    Do they even know what Mean Time Before Failure means?

  10. Christopher Gosnell says:

    The issue is not whether they made a crappy product. I know of one user who also needed their extruder replaced multiple times after printing some especially long prints.

    The issue is did they paint the fortunes of the company in too rosy a picture? I believe that they did, but the investors were all too happy to get in on the next ‘dotcom’ type bubble as well.

    They should have kept the product open-source (as other companies have) and concentrate on great service. Others have done well with this model. Ultimaker seems to be the biggest beneficiary in all of this. Anyone know how the Dremel printer is doing in the marketplace?

  11. Erick Acereto Batiz says:

    This company sucks, i bought a replicator 2x and its a horrible product, i was tricked thinking it was a good printer, it is not, there are about 5 upgrades that you NEED to do if you want to print anything, its like buying a brand new car with no life on their tires, you have to change the oil immediately, the steering wheel is a square, and you have tu cut holes in the car if you want windows.

    Im serious, anyone that owns a 2x printer can tell you this, the printer does not work right out of the box, why would anyone want to buy something that does not work ??

    1. B mill says:

      At least it was their 4th gen stuff which was still actually good. Aside from the metal tube on the Rep 2x, the Flashforge Creator Pro is a clone of the 2x with all the upgrades and it’s an awesome machine. I bought a Replicator 2 from Makerbot and it was an excellent machine. The company used to be great, they had good support even if you didn’t pay for makercare which is a ripoff when you can get free info from google groups. But when they released their 5th gen machines with the “smart extruder” and somehow got best of awards at CES on non functional machines with parts printed on a replicator 2 and glued together on display as if they were printed on the new machines, the clogging of the extruder and instead of a recall or making a customer whole, they charge a premium to get replacement garbage that will just fail again showed that this company was one to avoid. The older generation product line is better, Who is going to stick with a company that releases WORSE products every year? If you want to unload that 2x, how much do you want for it?

  12. Rene .N says:

    I got a 5th gen printer. I don’t feel sorry for these guys. I got 5 prints out of the extruder and it bit the dust. No longer a viable company to buy from. Money over product! There not getting a red cent for another extruder…let alone a 3 pack. I decided to rework the extruder myself and come up with my own solution. If it works I’ll open source it. In the mean time I am building myself a deltabot that’s 4 feet high x 24 inches wide. Doing this while I figure out the “smart extruder” replacement.
    Goodnight Makerbot you guys not getting another cent from me.

  13. jon varteresian says:

    bought the Z18, and it was the worst experience EVER! i returned it

  14. Mark Stansell says:

    I have tried to remain patient with MakerBot based on the fact that at the beginning their printers seemed to work well. Less than 1 year in, and $10,000 later I have 3 very large paperweights. This is a travesty and they are so full of excuses. Also, when you open a support ticket they forward you a PDF or a video of some generic fix, and then CLOSE the ticket without you saying your problems were solved. BAD customer service, bad product, bad company!

  15. Mark Stansell says:

    Now these crooks are charging $100 per incident to “fix” your problem. The problem is your company SUCKS and your products are defective!

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Matt is a community organizer and founder of 3DPPVD, Ocean State Maker Mill, and HackPittsburgh. He is Make's digital fabrication and reviews editor.

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