Dingbat (quercus) wrote,
Dingbat
quercus

Open letter to Makerbot

I've just cancelled my order (and place near the front of the UK delivery queue) for a Makerbot Replicator 2 (a 3D printer).

This was partly because the R2 is PLA plastic only, rather than ABS. This gives a better print quality, but it's not without drawbacks. Secondly, (UK at least) the R2 is now becoming available but the PLA plastic isn't!

So here's the body of a letter that has just gone back to Makerbot, explaining why Ive cancelled:


* This is a marginal purchase. It's a pile of money, so I need it to be useful. It's not the cheapest printer around, but I'm concerned that it's not the best either.

* I'm concerned about PLA. The stuff biodegrades, which rules it out for some uses. The PLA I've played with so far was mechanically unimpressive, compared to printed ABS. Many things I'm interested in making would be printed as semi-finished blanks, then drilled or tapped for attachment. I really want ABS - or both! I can afford multiple heads. I can afford to down the machine for manual head swaps. A PLA-only machine though is too much of a risk.

* This machine is already delayed. There's a new machine on the way. So why not wait?

* I just don't trust the 3D print industry. Makerbot is better than the rest, but there are still awful promises being made and broken in this industry. Launching a machine though without the PLA sourcing being sorted is 'unimpressive', to say the least. I can't afford this machine without _some_ hope of it being commercially viable. I can't put business money into this machine if I think I won't be able to get the PLA to run it.

If PLA _was_ available, I'd have bought as planned.

* There's one simple way to make me buy this machine today, but Makerbot haven't addressed it (Why?). Tell me what the upgrade path is from this machine to the next machine! If I can buy a new head and convert my 2 to a 2X, then I'll be delighted to buy a 2 today and a new 2X head in the future.

And as they say in their own copy, I'm the sort of chap who already has a trebuchet.
Tags: 3d printing
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