Our Investment In MakerBot

makerbotWe are excited to announce that we’ve led a $10 million financing in MakerBot Industries, a Brooklyn, NY-based company that has developed the first low cost commercial 3D printer.

While 3D printing technology has been around for a while, to date it has been limited to high-end industrial printers costing between $10,000 and $500,000. While the applications of 3D printing are very broad and extremely compelling, the cost and complexity of the products and process has limited the application of 3D printing.

Over the past decade, the DIY (or “do it yourself”) phenomenon has resulted in an increasing number of people using 3D printing technology. Until recently, if you wanted to print a 3D object, you borrowed a high-end machine or sent a design to an outsourcing firm that did 3D printing on demand. Several years ago, three hackers – Bre Pettis, Adam Mayer, and Zach Smith – teamed up and created the first open source 3D printer, known as the MakerBot Cupcake. While the Cupcake needed to be assembled by hand, it was a unique product that enabled anyone to own a 3D printer for around $1,000.

The Cupcake generated a wave of excitement among DIY hackers and the analogy was made between early personal computers such as the MITS Altair 8800 or the Healthkit H8 and the Apple II – namely that the Cupcake resembled the H8, and in a few years a 3D printer analogous to the Apple II would be created.

A similar analogy is at play in the laser printer market. The laser printer was invented by Xerox in 1969 but didn’t gain mass-market adoption until 1984 when HP created the Laserjet. As with the Apple II, the HP Laserjet marked the beginning of the creation of an enormous market for a new technology.

Last year, MakerBot came out with their second generation product, the Thing-O-Matic. At the same time, they’ve created an incredible community of 3D designs called Thingiverse. And they are hard at work on their third generation printer.

We believe MakerBot has the potential to be the Apple or HP of the 3D printing market and are honored that we get to be part of the effort.

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  • Luis E. Rodriguez

    This is great! Especially “And they are hard at work on their third generation printer.”

    • Ben

      ffffffffffffffuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu

      I recently placed an order for my ToM… hope the differences aren’t too big

  • http://themakersworkbench.com MakersWorkbench

    It’s too bad the writers of this article did not check the facts. Makerbot was not the first open source 3D printer. RepRap was. Bits from Bytes produced the first commercially available open source 3d printer. Makerbot lost their original vision when they dropped the CupCake and replaced it with Thing O Matic which is almost double price. They cut out those makers who could not afford to spend $1000+ on a printer. IMO the RepRap Prusa Mendel is a far superior printer to the ToM and comes in far cheaper.

    • Cupcake #147

      But Makerbot was the first one out there to sell their open source printer as a complete kit, all the above you mention are interesting projects but either they are not a ready-to-be-bought kit or they are not not open source (have you ever assembled and used a bits from bytes machine?) Of course the Reprap predates the cupcake… Zach is one of the reprap developers and the cupcake was intended to be a repstrap…

      • http://twitter.com/eng_Andy Andrew

        That’s cool, though need a citation on ‘first complete kit’, but doesn’t detract from the fact that “Several years ago, three hackers – Bre Pettis, Adam Mayer, and Zach
        Smith – teamed up and created the first open source 3D printer, known as
        the MakerBot Cupcake.” is a lie, especially if like you said, “the cupcake was intended to be a repstrap”.

  • Dragon

    Reprap was defiantly the first out there, and yes Makerbot was the first to have a kit.
    They have done a great job of marketing their printer. Take a look at thefutureis3d . com. I like a printer that has some room when you print and isn’t noisy. I have used a makerbot and would prefer a Mendel reprap that has a 12″ x 12″ heated bed for way less the cost.

    • Pralle

      Printrbot is a printer that dosent requier so mutch adjustment if any after the assembly unlike Reprap, No disrespect to Reprap or makerbot but i think thats more important than who was first. well that and the price :). they have a amazing printer kit thats super easy to assemble. And they have opened a new store now so anyone can buy a printer of the shelf fully assembled and ready for printing. I would rather put my money on them.

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  • 3d-forever

    Take a look at the future is 3d . com   They are coming out with some nice products.

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  • The3Dman

    Way to expensive for me. Japica makes better and faster printers for 50% the cost of makerbot. hmm…