Author Topic: EEVblog #198 - Makerbot Venture Capital Funding  (Read 2345 times)

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Offline Zad

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EEVblog #198 - Makerbot Venture Capital Funding
« on: August 25, 2011, 12:54:40 pm »
I'm not quite sure what to think about the Makerbot funding. Sure, good luck to them, I'm all for funding innovation, but what is in it for the investors? That really is a lot of money for a restricted range of products. The Thing-O-Matic is kinda cool, but the resolution is really low, and a lot of the stuff I have seen is purely novelty value. There are plenty of similar devices around, and even with refinement and a massive cost reduction, I can't see there being a massive market.  Especially when the Chinese (or Russian, Indian, Brazilian...) manufacturers get their hands on it.

As an aside, I think if I had $1300 (or better still $2500) then a 5-axis miller would be preferable. Admittedly that's a subtractive method rather than additive, but the resolution would be much higher.

I think what they are possibly investing in is the structure of the business and experience of the staff. Kinda like buying a heated greenhouse. Sure the current plants will fruit and make money, but it is the future product potential that matters.

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #198 - Makerbot Venture Capital Funding
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2011, 02:57:26 pm »
I think what they are possibly investing in is the structure of the business and experience of the staff. Kinda like buying a heated greenhouse. Sure the current plants will fruit and make money, but it is the future product potential that matters.

They are buying the name and the excitement and culture that built up around it. And most likely some other big secret plan they have...
You can buy other (better looking IMO) 3D printers for almost the same price as the assembled Makerbot:
http://www.pp3dp.com/
(possibly technically better too?)

If Makerbot get lost in the noise then the investors will lose their money.
All it takes is for someone else to bring out a decent fully assembled version that works well at a compelling enough price point.

Dave.
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: EEVblog #198 - Makerbot Venture Capital Funding
« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2011, 06:42:24 pm »
They've been at it long enough that it's entirely possible that they have a new design in the works that can compete with commercial 3D printers, and the VC funding will bring it into production at an attractive price by tooling up for cheaper construction.

I'm not sure I can see that there is $10m of value in the current product line, especially with  competition from the likes of Ultimaker]'s high-speed printer.

My guess is we'll see something significantly new in the near-ish future.
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Offline Semantics

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Re: EEVblog #198 - Makerbot Venture Capital Funding
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2011, 04:49:40 am »
I just pulled the trigger on an Ultimaker a few weeks ago after seriously considering a Thing-O-Matic from Makerbot. I liked the fact that the build surface only moves along Z and isn't sliding around all over the place. It just seems to me a design with a moving toolhead with involved forces being predictable is better than a moving build surface of slowly increasing mass sliding around, and that it would be more useful in using more of the printer's volume as opposed to TOM that requires enough space on the right for left-justified deposits, etc etc.

Turns out there are quite a few different hobby-grade 3d printers out there. http://thefutureis3d.com/ can send you an assembled one that's 24" x 24" x 13.5"... crazy huge (about 125,000 cm^3 if I don't suck at stubbornly-refusing-to-write-digits-down math)!

So, point being that while the idea that Makerbot's has serious money to invest in R&D is good, but, from a business standpoint, it's land-grab time. Give a bunch away to schools and prominent bloggers, get puff pieces in magazines, spend a little for advertising, you know, the stuff to firmly embed themselves in the public's psyche, almost to the point where if people think about 3d printer they would immediately think of MakerBot instead of RepRap or Up (FDM designs) or even think of that before, say, ZCorp (powder based). The design has a lot of catching up to do.

If they don't, the first one past the post I think will be the first design that has enough sensors (humidity, ambient temperature, filament chemistry detection) and software wizardry (pathing, automated support structures) to remove a lot of the guesswork and experimentation that everyone with these devices tend to go through now. But to roll the dice that your R&D will be first to do that and do it well? Hmm...
 


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