Why is the Replicator 2 from Makerbot Industries closed-source?

When I first heard about this I was down-hearted. I’ve followed Makerbot Industries from the beginning and seeing Bre Pettis (one founder of Makerbot) and his enthusiasm towards open-source always made me excited about the maker community – and what is starting to recognised as a revolution. But why closed-source, now?

The previous iterations of the product have been open to the community, and improved by it. All the previous designs are already online and I can’t see there is too much that the community couldn’t work out for themselves, so why waste everybody’s time?

Making the Replicator 2 closed-source isn’t like a patent. It doesn’t stop clones. Therefore, I hope this is temporary (as they will later be releasing an ‘experimenter’ version) in an effort to stay ahead of the crowd and release the designs in good course.

That being said the new Makerbot looks stunning and offers great improvements over the previous version.

[EDIT: Bre has since released a post to help clarify some ‘misinformation’, stating that they ‘are working that out’ regarding the projects open or closed source nature. He also stresses that he intends to continue to support the open-source movement.]

[EDIT 2: Another post by Bre aims to fully explain the decisions involved and quotes several opinions from open-source folk who make a lot of sense.]

Makerbot Industries: Building and Leading a Technological Enterprise

This is an essay I wrote for uni (23rd March 2011). I seem to remember it receiving a good mark and it kinda fits with the blog. Haven’t read through it or updated it though so – you know – take it easy.

I’m not apologising for NOT linking the references, either. It would’ve taken aaaages. Bite me.

Makerbot Industries is based in Brooklyn, New York and was founded by Bre Pettis, Zach Smith and Adam Mayer in January 2009. (1) Inspired by the RepRap project, they design and build desktop-sized affordable 3D printers, known as Makerbots, allowing customers to print physical objects from ABS plastic.

“Right now, you can download books and movies. Someday you’re going to be able to download things.” – Bre Pettis (2)

Bre Pettis is “passionate about invention, innovation and all things DIY” (2) and has founded a Brooklyn based hackerspace called NYC Resistor (2007) and co-founded Makerbot Industries (2009) and Thingiverse.com (2008) which allow users to share digital designs, often suitable for reproduction on a Makerbot. He is also an international speaker at several conferences and has, in-the-past, worked as a school teacher, artist and puppeteer as well as producing many tutorial videos for Make Magazine and Etsy.com. (3)

Zach “Hoeken” Smith and Adam Mayer are both members of NYC Resistor. Zach has previously founded the RepRap Research Foundation (RRRF) (2007), a non-profit corporation that provides a support base and a cheap source of RepRap parts for researchers interested in the project. (4)

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