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Ultimaker and Makerbot merge to form new 3D printing company

cloakedcode

Maybe this will do good things for https://thingiverse.com ! It’s suffered for a long time from reliability issues, a terrible search function, and a host of other usability/stability problems. In spite of these problems, it remains a massive repository of community-made 3D designs and deserves fixing if only as a piece of 3D printing hobbyist history.

Edit: removed markdown

jwr

Luckily, we have competition, and https://printables.com/ is there.

deelowe

Just switch to the prusa site. It's much better. Competition is good an all, but there's no reason to keep using thingiverse at this point.

sircastor

On my back burner for a whole has been a federated thing-sharing server. A sort of “Mastodon for 3D objects”. I haven’t taken the time to build anything because I’ve been otherwise busy, but the idea that I could host my own stuff if I was wary of someone else’s EULA is nice.

avian

Isn't "Mastodon for 3D objects" just a personal website that hosts .stl files? Last time I did a project that included 3D printed parts, I just attached models to a blog post.

I understand that not having models in a centralized repository brings problems with discoverability. So maybe a better project would be a search engine for 3D objects hosted on the long-tail web?

hahajk

Or a “dogpile” for 3d printed things, like yeggi.com?

traverseda

Django? If so, send me and email.

sime2009

This merger includes a significant amount new cash being invested. Also, Stratasys will be taking backseat and becoming a minority investor. Ultimaker has continued to invest in Cura and make it available for many competing printers over the years. They understand the value of giving something back to a community. Thingiverse is one of the biggest and most important 3D printing communities out there. I know that a lot of people in Ultimaker (and I suspect MakerBot too) are keen to see Thingiverse be restored and improved.

thetinguy

I just use yeggi or thangs for search. They are much better for that.

mtoddsmith

Pretty sure they focused development resources on projects that made money.

ChuckMcM

I'm not sure if this is a good or a bad thing.

For background, in the 3D printer market there is a really big step function in 3D printers. The least expensive (and thus widely used) are the Creality printers which are made in China and evolve quickly as the open source market does, but seem to suffer from reliability issues. More expensive are the Prusa printers which are also open source, but rock solid in their operation and well supported. In terms of value they probably reach a good compromise between openness and capability per $ spent. Then in the "full commercial" mode (which has things that commercial users need like 24/7 on site repair, solid warranty terms and easily replaced parts that tend to have a usage lifetime (like extruders) are Makerbot (which was bought by Stratsys) and Ultimaker.

The first printer I ever bought was a Makerbot Replicator, which turned out to be the last fully open source Makerbot printer they ever produced. I chose it because Makerbot was a leader in the field and it had dual extruders so you could extrude an easily rinsed of "support" material as well as your main material and that made 3D printing complex shapes possible. It never worked well. I mean it worked as well as it could, but its best day wasn't really a good day.

I augmented it by getting a Prusa Mk3S, which has been an excellent printer. It fixed all of the issues that the Makerbot had, but lacked dual extruders so it could not easily use a separate support material. I've been very happy with the Prusa and got the kit to upgrade it to an Mk3S+ (basically better bearings) and it remains my "go to printer." However the combination of a lack of support material and the difficulty of printing ABS without an enclosure, lead me to get my third printer.

And I went back to Makerbot and got one of their Method-X printers. Their marketing makes it sound a lot better than it is, and it still requires manual build plate leveling which seems really lame for printer that lists for over $6000. My alternative choice in "pro" printers was the Ultimaker S5 (also a $6000 printer) but those don't show up on the used market nearly as much[1]. So I found a used Method printer before I found a used Ultimaker.

Sadly, the merger announcement seems to have Makerbot in charge of R&D which seems backwards. They are good at marketing, R&D not so much. Hopefully the combination will make a 3D printer company that can compete with Prusa, but if Prusa starts shipping the -XL printer, I think it is going to be a tough road.

[1] This is probably a better signal of usefulness than I give it credit for :-)

mdorazio

I lost faith in Makerbot when they started using proprietary parts that, as far as I could tell, weren’t actually superior to the open source equivalents. I ran a print farm for a while with 50 printers of various brands and the bottom line is that if you FDM print a lot, stuff is going to break or go wrong regardless of the printer price or brand. Being able to easily (and cheaply) source parts and replace things yourself is essential. I will always applaud them for Thingiverse, though.

I feel like the story is a bit different in the SLA world, but I got out of 3D printing before it got really popular.

jacquesm

Prusa fan as well here, I print support using very little density but with the same material, you will need to do some polishing anyway if you want a part to really look good so this is easily accomodated.

2muchcoffeeman

Prusa make a dedicated enclosure now.

cs2818

My printing journey started with a FlashForge Creator Pro that has dual extruders and an enclosed build area. It was easy to use and worked well for ABS, but has essentially been idle since getting an MK3 a couple of years ago. I’ve had really good results printing ABS and ASA using the MK3 in a simple enclosure tent (Creality branded and like $80 on Amazon). We print a lot of ASA so I do want to move the MK3’s power supply out of the enclosure, but it’s such a great machine I’ve struggled to find something new that seems worth the purchase.

regularfry

If you look at how much money each party is putting in and how much equity they each get, it reads a whole lot like Stratasys trying to get a return on a brand they don't really understand the value of by paying off someone who's doing better in the target market to do it for them.

sime2009

Stratasys will be a minority shareholder in this new company. i.e. just an investor.

regularfry

Exactly.

blisterpeanuts

“The new company will be led by Nadav Goshen, current MakerBot CEO, and Jürgen von Hollen, current Ultimaker CEO, who will act as Co-CEOs, with Nadav managing operations and R&D and Jürgen managing the commercial functions.“

How well does this type of mergers-of-equals work out, generally? It seems like an inherently fraught arrangement, to have two CEOs, even if they nominally have different responsibilities.

The other problem is that Thingiverse is dated and not well maintained; it has received a lot of criticism from the maker community. Doesn’t bode well if their primary showcase is treated like an afterthought.

the_biot

I don't see how it's NOT going to devolve into a battle of wills until only one is left standing.

The combined company now has two very visible projects that don't make money: Cura and Thingiverse. Considering both will fall under the Makerbot guy, I think both will die.

lvl102

Not really sure what to think of this merger. They’re both has-beens. FDM printer space has changed quite a bit over the past decade and it’s decidedly DIY with Prusa dominating the space. And the fact that other, far more advanced, printing methods are available for cheap prices means that FDM will mostly remain DIY and niche.

double0jimb0

You’re describing the DIY niche, I’d be very surprised if the DIY niche is greater than 25% of these companies’ business.

null

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IshKebab

I'm pretty sure that the Ender 3 is way more popular than all of Prusa's printers put together. They're definitely both has-beens though.

Also, although fancier methods like SLA and MJF are way cheaper and more accessible than ever they still can't really compete with FDM for large cheap stuff so I think FDM will be around for a while.

spookthesunset

Ender isn’t a has-been… it’s like the Honda Civic of 3d printers. It’s got a huge aftermarket and tons of enthusiasts.

Note: I don’t own an ender. I have some no-name 3d printer. If I did it again I’d have gotten a prusa

regularfry

More like a Model T Ford. Absolutely definitional for a generation, but kinda crap and you really do have to tinker with it.

cassianoleal

> I'm pretty sure that the Ender 3 is way more popular than all of Prusa's printers put together.

It's possible, but:

- The Ender 3 is an "i3 clone", so in some ways still a Prusa - If your assumptions is right, it's probably just because of the price difference - The reliability you get from a Prusa is unbeatable even at much greater price points

Just to be clear, I'm not disagreeing with you, only adding context.

whazor

I think the target market is more companies/schools/clubs. You pay premium for a machine that is serviced. Which is essential if you want to offer 3d printing to users, because 3d printers need ventilation, maintenance, configuration, installation etcetera. For an organisation it makes sense to pay premium for a printer that might not be as great as other printers, but at least it works and users can print the thing they found online.

sime2009

what makes you think Ultimaker is aiming at the DIY market? have you seen their website?

m34

Also as the Anker M5 is on the horizon [0] (sort of), I'm really curious how the consumer 3D printing space will develop in the very near future.

[0] https://ankermake.com

vosper

LTT did an interesting video (but not a review, I think) on the Ankermake

https://youtu.be/E581GZ_dZbY

johnwalkr

I’m excited for this one. I really like Anker’s charging products and the speed looks nice. Also having a camera to check on your prints is something I’ve always wished for.

happyopossum

> Also having a camera to check on your prints is something I’ve always wished for

If you’ve got a typical consumer 3D printer, you could be using OctoPrint anyway, just hook up a $20 webcam to it and you’ve got a camera on your octoprint interface, and in any number of mobile apps that monitor Octo.

cassianoleal

Or install Klipper [0] and Mainsail [1]. Octoprint is a great addition where there's none but is very underperformant and the interface is janky. Klipper brings in many other improvements at the cost of tinkering.

[0] https://www.klipper3d.org/ [1] https://docs.mainsail.xyz/

antirez

Prusa is going to eat the entry level 3D printing world, unless some giant enters the consumer market. Makerbot is fading into the irrelevance: moved away from the entry level market but I'm not sure there is really space for them in the professional one.

sircastor

Some giant did enter the market. Stratasys bought MakerBot in a bid to own the hobby space. MBs reputation rapidly diminished before and after thanks to a few boneheaded moves.

What’s amazing to me is how Prusa, the undisputed leader in the space, is fully open source and continues to fully fund itself and research new technologies. They’re the antithesis of what Makerbot and Stratasys are, and are a successful company.

MBCook

I know a ton of people hate MB for going closed, but what were they supposed to do? They spend all that time and money doing R&D to develop new printers and then Chinese groups would take those plans and sell identical printers for a huge discount since they didn’t have to pay American salaries or do any real R&D?

It was like that terrible time Apple tried to have clones. The clones just undercut Apple and made sales even worse, causing them to lose money faster. Except at least the clones paid some licensing fee.

Seems like they had to go closed or fold.

syedkarim

I don’t disagree with this reality. What I don’t understand is how Prusa manages to do so well.

mastax

Creality has already eaten the entry level world.

ravenstine

I have no feelings for or against this because I own a 3D printer from neither of those companies. Makerbot's printers used to be pretty terrible, and now they are just overpriced. An Ender 3 or similar Prusa knockoff can do the exact same job for a fraction of the price. Yeah, institutions go with MakerBot because of support, but from a hobbyist perspective, I don't think it really matters if these companies merge.

The only reason I even have heard of Ultimaker is because their software is actually pretty good. Hopefully Cura doesn't become a mess like Thingiverse or drop features because reasons.

birdyrooster

Ender 3 S1 is a fucking pizza shit, don’t buy one. So many bad units out in the wild. Poor QC caused me to waste many hours on two different units with different catastrophic failures.

ravenstine

Dunno what the S1 part is, but my Ender 3 runs great. I print multiple times a week, get perfect prints, and have yet to do any maintenance in the last 2 years. The only things I've done are change the nozzle and upgrade the print bed to glass. Maybe the QC isn't the best, IDK. Lots of people have a good experience with those printers.

unwind

The Ender-3 S1 [1] is the latest revision, featuring direct drive extrusion and other enhancements.

[1]: https://www.creality.com/products/creality-ender-3-s1-3d-pri...

Brian_K_White

All creality are very low QC. Lot of bang for the buck, and that is one of the places all that bang for the buck comes from.

starky

I think the biggest mistake that people make when getting into 3D printers is buying a cheap Chinese printer. In most cases it seems to be that you are buying into the hobby of fixing a 3D printer rather than actually printing things. Some like the Ender can be good, but they still seem to require way too much work. I personally put far too much money into a cheaper kit before realizing that I hated it and bought a Prusa. If I hadn't experienced better machines through work, I probably would have just given up.

Fordec

This sale of $62.4m is quite the fall from when Stratsys bought Makerbot origionally for $604m.

Says it all really.

gaze

Didn’t makerbot have those hot ends that were rebranded as disposable because they would just fail so often? I wonder if the new CEO seeing over R&D/operations was there for that.

fn-mote

That debacle is when I stopped any involvement with their products. I continue to be surprised when I hear positive things about any of them. Presumably the higher end was treated better. We definitely got low-end products for high-end prices.

shimonabi

I bought the Anycubic Predator delta 3D printer with a 380mm bed from China 3 years ago for 480€. I have learned to design replacement parts for the things I break. I think it has paid for itself by now. Just yesterday I printed hands for an old cuckoo clock.

3D design stores are still in infancy. There are either no items when I search for them or they are way too expensive.

junon

This could either be a great thing or a terrible thing, I don't know that it'll end in an in-between...

Hemospectrum

And what will they call it? Ultimakerbot?