My name is Zachary Smith aka Hoeken. I have been building 3D printers since 2007 as part of the RepRap project. I created a non-profit foundation (the RRRF) dedicated to pushing open source 3D printing forward. In 2009, I invited my friends Adam Mayer and Bre Pettis to go into business with me building 3D printers. Thus, MakerBot Industries was born. Fast forward to April, 2012 when I was forced out of the very same company. As a result, I have zero transparency into the internal workings of the company that I founded. See this article by Chris Thompson for more infomation.
I do not support any move that restricts the open nature of the MakerBot hardware, electronics, software, firmware, or other open projects. MakerBot was built on a foundation of open hardware projects such as RepRap and Arduino, as well as using many open software projects for development of our own software. I remain a staunch supporter of the open source movement, and I believe the ideals and goals of OSHW remain true. I have never wavered from this stance, and I hope that I never do. Future me, beware.
I have been withholding judgement until hearing official word regarding the open source nature of the latest MakerBot printer. I’m trying to contact people to find out what the real scoop is but so far nobody is talking, and my ex-partners are not returning phone calls or emails. It certainly doesn’t look good. The best information I have found is a load of corporate double-speak bullshit that has come to characterize my interactions with MakerBot in recent memory.
If these allegations do prove true, it would be a sad day indeed for the open hardware movement. Not only would it be a loss of a large Open Hardware manufacturer, but it would also be a loss of a poster child for the movement. Many people have pointed at MakerBot and said “Yes, OSHW is viable as a business model, look at how successful MakerBot is.” If they close those doors, then it would give people who would say OSHW is not sustainable ammunition for their arguments. It would also discourage new OSHW companies from forming. That is a sad thing indeed.
For me, personally, I look at a move to closed source as the ultimate betrayal. When I was forced out, it was a normal, if unfortunate, clash of wills where one person must stay and one person must go. I swallowed my ego and left, because I knew that the company I founded would carry my ideals further into the world. Regardless of our differences, I had assumed that Bre would continue to follow the principles that we founded the company on, and the same principles that played a major part in the success of our company. Moving from an open model to a closed model is contrary to everything that I stand for, and as a co-founder of MakerBot Industries, it makes me ashamed to have my name associated with it.
Bre Pettis, please prove me wrong by clarifying exactly what license MakerBot will be releasing the design files and software under. That is all we (the community) wants.
In closing, I would like to point out the Open Source Hardware Definition, which MakerBot has endorsed. This document spells out in very clear terms what it means to be an open hardware company. I’ll leave this here for you to ponder:
Open source hardware is hardware whose design is made publicly available so that anyone can study, modify, distribute, make, and sell the design or hardware based on that design. The hardware’s source, the design from which it is made, is available in the preferred format for making modifications to it. Ideally, open source hardware uses readily-available components and materials, standard processes, open infrastructure, unrestricted content, and open-source design tools to maximize the ability of individuals to make and use hardware. Open source hardware gives people the freedom to control their technology while sharing knowledge and encouraging commerce through the open exchange of designs.
=( – Total Sad Panda Moment.
Hopefully this turns out to be jumping the gun but it feels like being open source was worn like a badge before, not dodged around.
I remember a post that mirrors this thinking by bre early on when somebody cloned the Gen 3 electronics.
Somebody could just as easily buy the Replicator 2 and pretend they built it on kickstarter, open or no. I hope that didn’t have a serious effect.
Well said. Thanks for your good work and inspiration.
It’s good to see your side of this. Such a large disagreement between the community and MakerBot… it’s hard to imagine that this is just about money. I’d certainly hope that there is more to the decision than that, though perhaps that is wishful thinking.
Either way, hopefully this dispute is resolved soon and happily for everyone so that we can move on and continue making awesome 3D printed projects with MakerBots 😀
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Never trust investors. They simply do not care about ideals. MakerBot is in the same league as 3D Systems now, with products still having the “home made” touch.
Growing a company without investors is a lot harder. Looking at the huge pile of work Gen7 electronics and the machine around it should receive, I face this every day. But one has to deal with this, grow rate isn’t everything.
In that sense, looking forward to your next company, Zach.
Great to hear your perspective. I think “Future You” will be like “Past You”, it’s called integrity. You have it and always have.
In 2010, Bre went on a huge rant chastising a very small RepRap company, Techzone. Techzone doesn’t exist anymore, but the rant shows that “Circa 2010 Bre” is 180° out of phase with “Circa 2012 Bre”, this is a lack of integrity.
Here’s the post: http://www.makerbot.com/blog/2010/03/25/open-source-ethics-and-dead-end-derivatives/
Zach, thank you for your contributions to RepRap, I am forever grateful. Keep innovating.
Looking back on comments like that now, it looks like Bre was simply using the ideals of the open source community as a weapon against a competitor… dick move.
Glad to see your analysis and valuable point of view.
Since I now get a clearer picture of forthcoming Makerbot commercial strategy, I would love to know your opinion on the thingiverse ToS issues that were raised recently.
Be it old or new, I now read it with much discomfort. E.g., being a very modest designer on thingiverse (mooncactus), what if I come an post a new filament feeder that works very well on Thingiverse? Would MK be able to “steal” it for free, claim all the rights on it, and even may be sell it with some Makerbot III?
It looks like the “secondary” CC licence is like the current speech on openess (this applies for other companies than ours).
In which case, what are already bad news could be even worse imo, since it would really be feeding on the back of willing and open people.
I wish you the best with BotQueue, this is another smart and nice idea!
> Would MK be able to “steal” it for free, claim all the rights on it, and even may be sell it with some Makerbot III?
It would have to be as part of a Service on Thingiverse. But Thingiverse could, for example, put a “Buy One Now” button on each page, and start selling printed versions of people’s designs…
That sucks. Guess I will stick to RepRap then.
Do you have a bit more detail on how and why you were forced out of the company? I’m just kind of curious.
Damn, man. I was hoping that things weren’t like that. I did an outsider’s perspective on Makerbot’s changing priorities http://openalia.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/on-makerbot-and-being-open-or-not/ but I was hoping that they were at least managing things correctly. While I agree that it would be sad to see Makerbot exit the open source community, I don’t think their success will do anything but help. After all, Makerbot was the vector that got me into the open source community. For every one Makerbot we lose we’ll gain 10 more.
Makerbot isn’t the last good idea the open hardware community will produce; it’s just one of the first.
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Zach – I agree with all you say above.
If you would like to read my thoughts at more length, see the comment I added to the MakerBot link you gave above (http://www.makerbot.com/blog/2012/09/20/fixing-misinformation-with-information/).
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What are the odds of some Governement entity getting involved due to printable gun parts? If i were a company and ‘someone’ came to me and said ‘you have to add some kind of watermark to you printed products’ (sound familiar?) , If i (my company) actually complied, closed source would be the only way to go to protect said additional watermark. and micron resolution might just be the tipping point needed to add said watermark. EFF researchers, look into this.
If the replicator 2 is in any way derivative from the replicator, aren’t they required to released the source files, per the replicator license?
No. Look at it this way: Lets say I write a story, and publish under the GPL. Great, you can revise it, translate it, illustrate it, etc and re-release it under the GPL. Everyone is happy.
But I still own all rights to my original copy. I still have the option of *RE-RELEASING* the same original story under a different license.
it only gets complicated when you start talking about derivatives. Is the R2 a derivative of the Mendel, for example? Mechanically, I’d say hell no, but you may disagree. Spiritually, absolutely, but you cannot copyright that.
Looking forward to whatever you do in the future. I and plenty others will be watching. Everything you said in this post is true. It is clear from the blog post from Makerbot about the Replicator 2’s planned license, that it will definitely be closed source. What was up with that blog post anyway, so soulless. Filling a page and saying nothing. I am pretty certain Makerbot will now be experiencing a slow painful death from the cancer that is greedy venture capitalists. They are going to lose their community and are going to be exactly same as all the tons of other closed source 3d printers out there.
But at least one Makerbot founder has his heart in the right place. And as for Bre, it doesn’t seem like him at all, if I were him, I would leave. Hard to walk away from something like that I am sure, but if things keep going like they are going, it is only thing that will save him. But what do I know.
Best to you,
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Sounds like Bre is right in line with becoming the Steve Jobs of Makerbot. Thankfully the community has noted his attitude and how he has more in common with a Ray Kurzweil than a Bob Moog. Best of luck to you and the other good folks out there that continue to “do” no matter what. Jeers to the Bres of the world that base their success on the silent toiling of others, while wearing too much hair gel.
I hope that they don’t completely screw you out of your founder rights to this company.
You will begin new amazing things, this might just be a perfect opportunity for new and fresh inventions. I admire your philosophy and ingenuity. New inventions are around the corner, there is more to be hacked, tinkered with, and opened.
Head up high!
As the founder, what were the terms of you being ‘forced out’. ? Were you renumerated in whole or are you recieving payments based on future sales.
Who owns the trademark to the companies products ?
Is this new product a derivitive of the existing and who owns the rights to the existing ?
Heck I know very little a out 3d printing but see a big future for it. Just dont understand how the ‘founder’ can get kicked to the curb with no recourse.
So, I made a comment on the blog post Bre made at thingiverse.
I made it pretty much telling people to calm down and actually talk to try to resolve any potential issues, even supporting the ToS of thingiverse. A day later and my comment has been the only one (that I’ve seen) deleted…yay
What do you expect? Closed source is about lack of transparency, and that necessitates censorship.
Well, it’s back now, so I’ll give any benefit of the doubt and say it was a bug in their system 😛
I would very much like for everything to come to a nice conclusion, but who knows.
Hi Zach, thanks for your explanations. Big disappointment for Makerbot supporters.We have several of them, basically because they were Free / Open Source… One of the most amazing projects in the last years, decade… We will stick to your new projects! and repraps… and free libre open source. Thanks again, and best luck, from Spain**
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Just posted up a big blog post about all the MakerBot controversy: http://www.fabberforge.com
So when someone does this… this sneaky underhanded thing… IMMEDIATELY reverse engineer and make a fully open source version. I’m sure you’ll find some help.
After all, they took all the open source stuff and repackaged it, with the only innovations being a neat gui on top and a good metal frame.
So before they can ramp up, feel absolutely free to make a BETTER one, cheaper. and point out you used only the same open source things they used. plus your own neat little gui on top and your own good metal frame.
and let’s NOT buy the closed model shall we?
I want this replicator 2 rather badly, and would have happily paid the asking price. But not if what I get is ALL I get, and I can’t upgrade it with the latest things from thingiverse.
SO don’t get mad…. get busy.
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Well… the new printer better work really good! Now they are a real company. They need to have real company policies. It’s one thing to be an open source company and have a 4 to 6 week lead time.. it’s another to push that down the throats of us when this is just an out of the box product.
I predict pain.
Wow, I have been out of the loop for a few months now on things, and only discovered all this today. I have been buying off of you since the RRRF days, and I bought from MB back when I had to surface mount solder the parts ( in addition to when the sanguino was being sold). To me, MB was always you and the others weren’t what it was about.
I hope you got paid out very well, or still have a decent chunk of ownership. From back in those days I knew who the creator was, and I know who is the marketer was. And I still know.
Loads of luck on your future projects, if they are good I’ll buy from them. I won’t be buying from your former ones.
Thanks Peter, I appreciate it! If you want to check out my latest project, its at http://www.botqueue.com, although there’s nothing for you to buy there… just awesome open source software. 🙂
Hi Zach, since your name is on the patent too I thought I’d ask… What do you think of all this and what were the original intentions for the patent?
The interesting thing about Open Source is that we know what factors of open source software that allowed it to (eventually) outcompete closed-source alternatives.
Those factors do not exist in the OSHW world yet. To allow collaboration to work well, we need:
(1) Ability to track changes in hardware design and builds. (Equivalent of git)
(2) Ability to trivially “fork” those changes. (git)
(3) Ability to trivially “merge” those changes. (git)
(4) And only when 1-3 are in place, then adding in social/cloud/p2p components allow designs to iterate much faster (github).
So for all you software guys out there interested in helping out but don’t know where to start: there are a lot of challenges only skilled software developers can solve. Look at CNC, for example. It is a non-Turing-complete language at the level of machine language. How can that be improved? Same with creating and designing meshes. There are a ton of problems to solve in this field (and in a way, we don’t have much time before we need to reach a tipping point with personal fabs).
Let the betrayal of principle die under the weight of its own folly.
As one of my best friends said to a competitor, “We’ll see you in the market.”