This week I received an interesting deal offer from MakerBot: Buy two machines and get one free. But is there more to the story?
Specifically, the deal suggests you can order two of their new Replicator+ machines (with the associated warranty package) and you’ll receive a FREE MakerBot Replicator Fifth Gen desktop 3D printer, the previous model.
The Replicator+ is a pretty decent machine that we reviewed in detail a few weeks ago. But what’s up with the free Fifth Gen machine?
First, the Replicator Fifth Gen is actually quite an old machine now. It was first unveiled to the public in January 2014, where we witnessed the event first hand. This makes the machine now literally three years old, which is a very long time in 3D printer years.
Since then many competing machines have caught up to and surpassed the capabilities of the Replicator Fifth Gen, not only in features, but also in price. At the time of its announcement, the Replicator Fifth Gen was priced at USD$2,899. Today that price is simply far too high for a machine designed to print only PLA materials.
Meanwhile, three years later, MakerBot announced the new Replicator+ months ago, and has no doubt been busy building many units for production - and ceasing production on the Replicator Fifth Gen model. This likely leaves the company with stacks of unsold devices they’ve produced with sunk cost. The Replicator+ is a far better machine and is priced at a lower level than the Replicator Fifth Gen, so it is highly unlikely anyone would consider buying one at this point.
So what to do with the leftover inventory? Why not use it as a promo to help sales of the current model? It happens to use the same filament spools as the new machine, so any usage it gets could help with MakerBot’s material sales. For buyers, the Smart Extruder+ included with the Replicator Fifth Gen actually works in the Replicator+, so you could consider it a spare unit.
But deeper, this could also signify that MakerBot is again shifting towards new, upgraded equipment by shedding itself of an older model they no longer wish to market. some of their internal resources working on the older model can be redirected towards new development.
That’s not to say an announcement is imminent; no, MakerBot would certainly take considerable time to develop and especially test any new equipment, as they did with the Replicator+.
If you happen to be interested in this deal, it’s available until the end of March.