Well, it had to happen sometime. With many 3D printer enthusiasts flipping their nose at the 5th generation MakerBot and opting instead for the older (and over $800.00 cheaper) Replicator 2 with similar if not slightly better printing specs. The time has come for this inconvenient problem to end. And so, MakerBot is fixing the problem…
The Replicator 2 has been around for a few years and has assisted in the commercialization of the MakerBot Brand. MakerBot’s success in making the Replicator 2 the go to product for small design houses and enthusiasts interested in 3D printing helped MakerBot become the acquisition target of the 3D printing powerhouse Stratasys .
While many in the 3D printing community may bemoan the loss of this icon as MakerBot kills off the low-priced Replicator 2 in favor of the 5th Generation MakerBot Replicator. Most will agree that it was inevitable that this would happen as MakerBot continues to grow into a more mature business and away from the hacker roots where it found its beginnings.
The reasons for the change are many such as the move from standard hardware store components to proprietary extruders and the move towards cartridge based filament with its new thinner spools for the 5th generation units. The new units will have less hackability which while bad in the eyes of the maker community may prove beneficial for the larger market that MakerBot is positioning it’s self to dominate in the coming years as 3D printing becomes a more mainstream concept.
I believe that the 5th generation MakerBot Replicator may run the risk of being like Windows Vista. Full of new ideas, pricy, and overwhelmingly skipped over by the market at large in hopes that the next version delivers on the promises made by this generation of the product. I feel we are in between the time when a 3D printer is as easy to use as a toaster and the time that it is an unruly hobby for people who like to tinker with machines. The new tech is emerging that will make this easier for a home user but is not yet ready for the big leagues.
For those of you that are planning to skip “Vista” and and install “XP” instead, there are still a few MakerBot Replicator 2’s available over at Amazon.com here: MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer Otherwise lets wait for “7” to save us all.
Let me know what you think in the comments.