MakerBot Industries

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MakerBot Industries
Industry3D printing
FoundedJanuary 2009
Founder(s)Bre Pettis, Adam Mayer, and Zach "Hoeken" Smith
HeadquartersBrooklyn, New York, United States
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MakerBot Industries
Industry3D printing
FoundedJanuary 2009
Founder(s)Bre Pettis, Adam Mayer, and Zach "Hoeken" Smith
HeadquartersBrooklyn, New York, United States

MakerBot Industries is a Brooklyn, New York-based company founded in January 2009 by Bre Pettis, Adam Mayer and Zach "Hoeken" Smith producing 3D printers. MakerBot builds on the early progress of the RepRap Project.


Smith was one of the founding members of the RepRap Research Foundation,[1] a non-profit group created to help advance early research in the area of open-source 3D printers.[2]

The company started shipping kits in April 2009 and had sold approximately 3,500 units as of March 2011. Demand for the kits was so great in 2009 that the company solicited MakerBot owners to provide parts for future devices from their own MakerBots.[3] Seed funding of $75,000 was provided by Jake Lodwick ($50,000) and Adrian Bowyer and his wife Christine ($25,000).[4]

In late 2010 MakerBots bought out 3DWorldWide, merging the two teams. 3DWorldwide was the early innovator of 3D computer components and slowly gained popularity. The group was led by design and technical experts Joshua J. Watts, Vishal N. Gupta and Collins T. Chelakottu. [5]

In August 2011, venture capital firm The Foundry Group invested $10 million in the company and joined its board.[6]

On June 19, 2013, Stratasys Incorporated announced that it had acquired MakerBot in a stock deal worth $403 million,[5] based on the current share value of Stratasys. The deal provided that MakerBot would operate as a distinct brand and subsidiary of Stratasys, serving the consumer and desktop market segments.[7]


A MakerBot printing a cylindrical object

MakerBot Industries' products are designed to be built by anyone with basic technical skills and are described as about as complicated as assembling IKEA furniture.[8] The printers are sold as do it yourself kits, requiring only minor soldering.

MakerBot printers print with acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), high-density polyethylene (HDPE), polylactic acid (PLA), and polyvinyl alcohol (PVA).

Cupcake CNC[edit]

MakerBot Cupcake CNC; Forerunner to the Thing-O-Matic

The Cupcake CNC was introduced in March 2009.[9] The source files needed to make the devices were put on Thingiverse, allowing anyone to build their own from scratch.[10] The Cupcake CNC features a usable build area of 100 mm × 100 mm × 130 mm (L/W/H) and has outside dimensions of 350 mm × 240 mm × 450 mm.

Because of the open source nature of the product, many suggestions for improvements came from users. Printing upgrades and replacement parts became popular projects for learning to operate the units. During its primary production run (April 2009 to September 2010), the Cupcake CNC had numerous upgrades so each 'batch' of new units was upgraded. The early model Cupcake CNC units shipped with a Plastruder MK3 and both acrylic and foamcore build platforms. All Cupcake CNC units shipped with DC motor extruders and Generation 3 electronics. Serial numbers for Cupcake CNC printers start at #1 and end around #2625.


Fully Assembled Thing-O-Matic with MK6 Stepstruder Extrusion Head


Introduced in September 2010 at Maker Faire NYC,[11] the Thing-O-Matic was MakerBot's second kit. The Thing-O-Matic shipped with many of the common upgrades that had been built for Cupcake. The stock Thing-O-Matic shipped with a heated, automated build platform, an MK5 plastruder, a redesigned z-stage and upgraded electronics (Generation 4). Later batches shipped with an MK6 Stepstruder, a stepper motor-based extruder as well as the parts to print using smaller 1.75 mm filament stocks.[12]

Makerbot's Automated Build Platform V2.0 invented by Charles Pax[13]
Makerbot's Heated Build Platform


Parts were fabricated using acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) or polylactic acid (PLA) with an extrusion head with z axis mobility and a platen with x and y axis mobility. Fully assembled, the exterior dimensions are 300 mm × 300 mm × 410 mm (12″ W × 12″ D × 16″ H) with a build envelope of 100 mm × 100 mm × 100 mm (4″ W × 4″ D × 4″ H) when using the automated build platform. The device interfaces via USB or a Secure Digital (SD) card.

The Thing-O-Matic was discontinued in the spring of 2012.[14] Makerbot Industries agreed support the Thing-o-Matic until their supply of parts was exhausted. Thing-O-Matic serial numbers start at #3000 and as of March 2011 were up to approximately 3850. The use of an automatic build platform is unique to the Thing-O-Matic. This component allows for the user to queue items to print, printing and ejecting each in turn after cooldown. This gives the printer the capability to execute a queue of print jobs unattended. In some configurations base layer material does not adhere well to the plastic belt surface. It has been proposed[15] that using a titanium belt could fix this issue. Other users simply use the heated build platform and print on a layer of masking tape (specifically blue painters tape) or kapton tape.

Instructions for assembly are provided online through the Makerbot Wiki.[16] The Thing-O-Matic is open-source hardware and is licensed under the GNU GPLv3. As such, the Thing-O-Matic can be heavily altered and improved by users.




Some MakerBot operators developed upgrades to the platform that were later incorporated into factory kits. MakerBot has credited those early innovators in their documentation,[23] and even on some of the PCB silkscreen layouts.[24]


In January 2012 Makerbot introduced the Replicator. It offered more than double the build envelope of the Thing-o-Matic (225 mm × 145 mm × 150 mm or 8.9 in × 5.7 in × 5.9 in). Other features included a dual extruder allowing two-color builds and upgraded electronics that include an LCD display and a control pad for direct user interaction without the need for a PC. The replicator is offered pre-assembled, with no kit version.

Replicator 2[edit]

A MakerBot Replicator 2
Richard Van As, a woodworker in South Africa describes his project, Robohand, a 3d printed prosthesis for Amniotic band syndrome, created on a MakerBot Replicator 2.

In September 2012, Makerbot Industries introduced the Replicator 2. The new version 3D printer again increased the build envelope (285 mm × 153 mm × 155 mm or 11.2 in × 6.0 in × 6.1 in) and can print at 100 µm per layer. The dual extruder option was dropped, but upgraded electronics, LCD display, and gamepad remain similar to the original Replicator. Unlike previous models, the Replicator 2 can only print PLA plastic and does not include the heated build plate, extruder, or high-temperature settings for ABS plastic. The Replicator 2 is only sold pre-assembled.

Replicator 2X[edit]

Alongside the Replicator 2, in September 2012 MakerBot also released the Replicator 2X. The 2X model was intended as an experimental version of the 2 that includes a completely enclosed build area, dual-extruder support, the ability to print with ABS plastic with a heated aluminum build platform, a redesigned extruder that improves reliability, and software support for these features.


In addition to selling just the electronics used to power a MakerBot (which can be used on RepRap Project printers),[25] MakerBot Industries offers the following items:


MakerBot Industries hosts an online community called Thingiverse where users can post files, document designs and collaborate on open source hardware. The site is a collaborative repository for design files used in 3D printing, laser cutting and other DIY manufacturing processes. In November 2011, MakerBot began its first retail sales of Thing-O-Matic through AC Gears in New York City with a permanent display.[26] In September 2012, MakerBot opened a retail location near Mulberry and Houston in New York City, where they sell equipment and supplies, demonstrate 3D printing, and offer classes.

Media coverage[edit]

Makerbot was featured on The Colbert Report in August 2011. They sent a bust of Stephen Colbert, printed on a Makerbot 3D printer, into the stratosphere attached to a helium filled weather balloon.[27]

Closed source controversy[edit]

Around September 2012 the company stated that for their new Replicator 2 they "will not share the way the physical machine is designed or our GUI".[28] This departure from the previous open-source hardware model was criticized by part of the community,[29] including co-founder and now former employee, Zachary Smith.[30]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Make Magazine Online. "Reprap Research Foundation: get yer Reprap parts here". Retrieved 2011-03-09. 
  2. ^ "Interview: Adrian Bowyer". Retrieved 2011-03-09. 
  3. ^ MakerBot is pioneering distributed manufacturing! Get paid to make parts for future MakerBots. 
  4. ^ "All-Star Lineup Invests in MakerBot". Retrieved 2014-01-03. 
  5. ^ a b "Stratasys Acquiring MakerBot In $403M Deal, Combined Company Will Likely Dominate 3D Printing Industry". TechCrunch. 2013-06-19. Retrieved 2014-01-03. 
  6. ^ Feld, Brad (August 23, 2011). "Foundry Group Invests In MakerBot Industries". Business Insider. Retrieved August 24, 2011. 
  7. ^ Etherington, Darrell (June 19, 2013). "Stratasys Acquiring MakerBot In $403M Deal, Combined Company Will Likely Dominate 3D Printing Industry". Tech Crunch. Retrieved June 19, 2013. 
  8. ^ The Daily Mail Online Online (2011-03-02). "Tested, the photocopier that'll one day make a Stradivarius". London. Retrieved 2011-03-09. 
  9. ^ MakerBot Blog. "Hello world!". Retrieved 2011-03-09. 
  10. ^ Thingiverse (2009-04-19). "CupCake CNC". Retrieved 2011-03-09. 
  11. ^ MakerBot Blog (2010-09-25). "MakerBot's New 3D Printer: The Thing-O-Matic!". Retrieved 2011-03-09. 
  12. ^ MakerBot Store. "MakerBot Thing-O-Matic Kit". Retrieved 2011-03-09. 
  13. ^ Google Patents (2012-07-24). "AUTOMATED 3D BUILD PROCESSES". Retrieved 2012-07-24. 
  14. ^ "Makerbot Blog". 
  15. ^ "Belt Forum". brucedjones. Retrieved 11 December 2011. 
  16. ^ "Makerbot Wiki". Makerbot. Retrieved 30 November 2011. 
  17. ^ "Objet Desktop 3D Printer". Objet. Retrieved 11 December 2011. 
  18. ^ "Dimension 3D Printer". Dimension. Retrieved 11 December 2011. 
  19. ^ "Makerbot Support". Makerbot. Retrieved 11 December 2011. 
  20. ^ "Makerbot Filament". Makerbot. Retrieved 11 December 2011. 
  21. ^ "Makerbot Thing-O-Matic". Makerbot. Retrieved 11 December 2011. 
  22. ^ "MakerBot Thing-O-Matic – Support material test". Creative Tools. Retrieved 11 December 2011. 
  23. ^ MakerBot Blog (2010-03-22). "MakerBot Cupcake Heated Build Platform v2.0". Retrieved 2011-03-09. 
  24. ^ Thingiverse (2010-03-22). "MakerBot Cupcake Heated Build Platform v2.0". Retrieved 2011-03-09. 
  25. ^ RepRap Wiki. "Generation 3 Electronics". Retrieved 2011-03-09. 
  26. ^ "AC GEARS x MAKERBOT NOV 2011 LAUNCH PARTY". Retrieved 2014-01-03. 
  27. ^ Hibbard, Laura (2011-08-18). "MakerBot Sends Stephen Colbert's Head Into Space (VIDEO)". Huffington Post. 
  28. ^ "Let's try that again". Retrieved 2014-01-03. 
  29. ^ Josef Průša. "Open Hardware meaning | Josef Prusa – 3D tisk a tiskárny". Retrieved 2014-01-03. 
  30. ^ "MakerBot vs. Open Source – A Founder Perspective". 2012-09-29. Retrieved 2014-01-03. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°41′1.37″N 73°58′53.88″W / 40.6837139°N 73.9816333°W / 40.6837139; -73.9816333