CMU School of Drama

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

MakerBot Releases Their 6th Generation Of 3D Printers

Hackaday: Just in time for the back to school and holiday season, Makerbot has released their latest line of printers. The latest additions to the lineup include the new Makerbot Replicator+ and the Makerbot Replicator Mini+.

The release of these new printers marks MakerBot’s first major product release since the disastrous introduction of the 5th generation of MakerBots in early 2014.


Chris Norville said...

Is the maker movement finally coming down from its 3D printing high? The article says it best: “From the heady days of the Colbert report and an era when 3D printing would solve everything…” If you believe that productivity and progress are the only worthwhile goals in life, then you were likely part of the hordes of people that freaked out over 3D printers, but there is a slight chance that you were just annoyed by the thing. You may have believed that 3D was an awesome invention in technology, and may have understood that the only way for the technology to develop was to have market force driving production of new machines, but were still not sold on the 3D printers being made. I believe the technology to great for hobbies and people that just like to make desk bobbles. The vast majority of commercially available printers, aside from stereo lithograph and metal printers, are not useful as a production tool, and are likewise not useful as a production prototyping tool. Some day we will have the replicators from star trek, but its not today.

Ben Vigman said...

I really have to agree with Chris on all counts. MakerBot's line of 3d printers from the get go were to help consumers and low budget educational institutions and "hackerspaces" make small trinkets and help promote they claims that they were on board with the latest and greatest maker technologies. The truth is that 3d printers in the consumer space are not that valuable a production tool. I have to imagine with services like ShapeWays coming online, where one company can consolidate all the top end machines under one roof, the idea that Joe Consumer can buy a Makerbot and 3d print the next "Big Thing" is even more far fetched today than in 2010. Perhaps MakerBot products are helpful to introduce new makers to the idea of CNC machining, but they are certainly not actually that useful in many operational contexts. But hey, I really need some more plastic toy trinkets in my life right now,

jcmertz said...

This new round of printers has finally convinced me that Makerbot, a company I once knew and loved, is dead. That said, I believe its legacy is still going strong; Makerbot successfully convinced the public that 3D printing was something they wanted and, more importantly, that it wasn't just for science fiction or huge corporations. I remember the first 3D printer I saw on the short lived Discovery Channel show "Prototype This" in 2008. It was a huge, super expensive machine, and I knew I wanted to play with one. I started looking to see if there was a cheap version available and found the RepRap project, then a struggling fledgling community before Makerbot appeared on the scene a year later and blew people away. Then a 3D printer would have been all but unobtainable to me, now I could go down to Home Depot or even Staples and buy one off the shelf, and do so without breaking the bank.

Changing gears, I would like to respond to Chris and Ben's comments that 3D printing is not valuable as a production tool or prototyping tool. I was firmly in this camp a couple of years ago, I thought it was awesome technology but there was no real useful thing I could make with it. Now I don't believe that at all. While a 3D printer might be wasted on a LORT scene shop, there are many areas where 3D printing has opened up prototyping in a way that it never was before. Tait uses their 3D printer pretty frequently to test parts before sending them out for manufacturing. While existing 3D printing technology is already useful, what is around the corner is going to change the playing field for the better again. Companies like Stratasys, who now owns Makerbot, and 3DSystems, makers of the popular Cube 3D Printer, are working on machines that can print in full color and with multiple materials. And not just in rigid thermoplastics with different degrees of brittleness, but in flexible and compressible materials as well as metals and more. Within 5 years I believe we could be at a point where a scenic designer could print a model of their set in full color in 3 Dimensions, with materials that behave similarly to the actual construction materials they represent. 3D printing is here to stay, and it is becoming less and less of a gimmick with each step forward.

Julien Sat-Vollhardt said...

I've been reading up on the history of makerbot in the 3D printing market, and it seems a tragedy that they have seemingly gone the way of the trash can. When I first heard of the very concept of 3D printing, I thought it was such an outlandish and specialized concept. As I moved more and more into maker circles, the makerbot was absolutely the face for consumer grade and accessble 3D printing. Makerbot were the ads you saw on the back of Make:Magazine, and were the ones that your school got when they didn't know what to do with all the extra STEM funding. It's sad that they've fallen by the wayside, but their impact in the industry is undeniable. Scouring the controversy over their previous line of ill-fated products, I've seen repeated a disturbing theory: Stratasys, in buying out MakerBot, is intentionally trying to tank the brand in order to open up market share for their other 3D printing products. While definitely pure speculation, it nevertheless makes me happy there are so many options now out there for cheap 3D printing for the average person.

John Walker Moosbrugger said...

A few years ago 3d printing was being heralded as a new industrial revolution. I’ll admit, I was very excited to be able to print everything I needed from my bedroom. Unfortunately, practicality has gotten in the way of that particular dream. The economies of scale have made it so it’s practically cheaper to order something from amazon, and have it show up at your door at a reasonable price and good build quality. 3d printing still has a place and it is a very nice tool to have access to and one I expect I will continue to take advantage of in the coming years for models but as far as printing actual useful items for my daily life amazon prime seems like a better investment at this point in my life. It is simply easier to build a machine to do one thing well and then ship that to me than it is to build a machine to build all things well.