In a departure from their corporate pattern of the past few years, MakerBot is not announcing a new personal 3D printer in January.
The company had made quite a habit of such announcements. At each succeeding Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, held each January, MakerBot had previously made announcements. They leveraged the huge CES media presence to get as much bang for their buck as possible, with very splashy Apple-like product unveilings, as did several other 3D printer manufacturers.
Recently we attended the 2014 event, where founder Bre Pettis himself unveiled the current line of MakerBot equipment, including the 5th Gen Replicator, Replicator Mini and Z18.
Previously we witnessed the unveiling of the Replicator 2X and in the year prior MakerBot had released the original Replicator.
Nothing like that is expected to occur at this year’s CES, and we’re a bit disappointed. In fact, Pettis is actually no longer with MakerBot.
Each succeeding announcement released a machine with additional capabilities and performance. So now the question is, has MakerBot ceased progress?
We suspect MakerBot indeed is working diligently on new machinery in their secret underground labs, but the market may not yet be right for a new machine. It’s likely sales of their current equipment is proceeding well and they see no reason to disrupt things with the introduction of a new machine.
The company has had a bit of a rough time introducing the advanced SmartExtruder in their current line of equipment, but our understanding is that these difficulties are being overcome. Combine that with the seemingly dozens of new retail relationships with new places to purchase MakerBots, and it appears there’s little reason to switch machines. It’s probable the new retailers are just now stocked with current MakerBot gear and it should be sold before moving on.
Another possibility for this corporate change is MakerBot’s increasing focus on consumers rather than DIY folks. The best time to announce and release consumer gear would be in advance of the holiday season, not in January immediately following the biggest sales season of the year. Thus, we might expect to hear from MakerBot later next year, perhaps in September.