One of the pillars of open source 3D printing, Repetier Host, has closed its source code.
The open source zone of 3D printing enables significant developments to take place. Many people contribute software and hardware improvements to the body of knowledge, and that makes 3D printing a better place.
One of the key software pieces in that puzzle is Repetier Host, “The software driving your 3D printer”. And that is precisely what it does. It’s been an open source offering for quite some time. However, it’s latest terms of service have abruptly changed and now all rights are reserved for the authors.
Questions and skepticism erupted on open source forums, but a Repetier spokesperson responded:
We tried the open source model for over 2 years. User contributions were very low, so nearly all work was done by us. So we ended working 10 hours a day 7 days a week which we could not spend earning money. In addition other used our work for their profit without sharing it with us. Fortunately not all companies go that way. Quite some printer vendors support us with custom host version and we believe this step will even increase the number of supporters, so we can keep a free host version with new features. The alternative would be to stop developing the host, which would be even more lost to the community.
And so it happens again. It seems that while open source is a noble practice, people can only contribute so much. In the case of MakerBot, they transformed utterly from a fully-open source outfit to a full-on corporate giant in only four short years. Things change.
We leave the final word to RepRap commenter robr45acp, who said:
if you're closed and you put out a good product. I'll buy it. count me in for the long haul. just don't put backdoors in and send sneaky data to the NSA. that would piss me off.