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MakerBot Going Closed Source? 182

Posted by samzenpus
from the say-it-aint-so dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A year after a windfall $10 million in venture capital, and after a community stir over one man's attempt to Kickstarter a project to manufacture the open source Replicator with a lower price tag, it appears that MakerBot Industries is going closed source on their new model 3d printer, the Replicator 2. Josef Prusa, core developer of the widely known RepRap printer (the basis for previous MakerBot models) has confirmed the sad news, with a stunned tweet, and is organizing an 'Occupy Thingiverse,' to protest the apparent theft of others' work."
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MakerBot Going Closed Source?

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  • by Chrisq (894406) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @08:08AM (#41397509)
    time to fork the project. Whenever this has happened the opens source fork wins (Mambo vs Joomla, LibraOffice vs OpenOffice - which then went open itself, etc.)
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Makels (2735185)
      How did Libre/OpenOffice win? Microsoft Office is still the most widely used, and best, office suite. Hell, even Apple's office apps are better than Libre/OpenOffice.
      • by Chrisq (894406)

        How did Libre/OpenOffice win? Microsoft Office is still the most widely used, and best, office suite. Hell, even Apple's office apps are better than Libre/OpenOffice.

        I meant out of the closed and open branches of the fork. not that would be the best in the world.

      • LibreOffice is reasonably good. Apple's office apps are Microsoft's Apple Office app. It has two advantages, being free of cost or subscription and it's open source.

        No, it doesn't have the number of users or integration with other tools, but it works (well) for many user's applications.

        • by iamgnat (1015755)

          LibreOffice is reasonably good. Apple's office apps are Microsoft's Apple Office app.

          I believe they were referring Apple's iWork suite of office apps. While they are still lacking compared to MS Office (even the Mac version) I would agree that it is still better than OpenOffice/LibreOffice (and I really do try to use it).

          No, it doesn't have the number of users or integration with other tools, but it works (well) for many user's applications.

          Overall I like OO/LO as they've done a lot of work to make it work like MS Office (similar icons/menus, etc..), but it's biggest draw back is that it still doesn't handle MS Office documents correctly. At work I invariably have to revert back to MSO because the formatting i

          • by postbigbang (761081) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @09:35AM (#41398245)

            Although there was some truth to this, much of this is mythological these days. I save to doc and docx with LO, and no one has been the wiser. Admittedly, they're not highly formatted with lots of font changes and document template disciplining. Nonetheless, no one has been the wiser for at least a couple of years now.

            Wholesale changeover? No. I'm not even expecting that. I've also used MS Office on Apple.. but never used iWork apps as they weren't known for document interchangeability with the Office hegemony. Perhaps they were; if so, I was unaware.

            • by iamgnat (1015755)

              Although there was some truth to this, much of this is mythological these days.

              My main issues are with presentations where the text/images end up being outside the slide area (this happens both directions) and graphs not displaying (entirely or incorrectly) in spreadsheets (Excel -> LO, I can't say I've seen issues going the other way). Documents work fine unless images are added or pages are split into columns, then the formatting goes to hell on them too (again both directions).

              • As long as Microsoft continues to do upgrades, they'll pull compatibility a step ahead. I don't know if the formats change by accident, or on purpose. Document interchangeability has been a huge problem for Microsoft-- and therefore for others that don't use Microsoft products.

                This will likely always be the case, as getting everyone to the table is impossible because in the end, everyone's ideas are different and there is no compelling market reason to make them behave.

            • by hairyfeet (841228)

              That is nice for YOU and people who gets docs from YOU, but the rest of the world doesn't care and isn't picky about formatting/fonts/templates and LO turns those into word salad. That is why I give LO to my home users but never the business ones, it looks VERY unprofessional to send someone a doc and have the one they send you in return look like something a third grader made.

              In the end the reason you'll never beat MS Office with free software is the network effect [wikipedia.org] means that LO can't merely be close, it h

    • by Daniel_Staal (609844) <DStaal@usa.net> on Thursday September 20, 2012 @09:14AM (#41397989)

      The interesting difference here is the barrier to entry: The Replicator 2 is a physical object. It needs a supply chain, and shipping arrangements, and a manufacturing base to fork it. (Instead of in pure software where the only thing besides the people you need is some web hosting.) So, it'll take others quite some time to set up a fork of reasonable size and quality, and a fair amount of money.

      Should be interesting to watch the fallout of this.

      • by firex726 (1188453)

        Will it?

        I thought there were competing 3D printers for consumers out there, just that MakerBot was the most famous/popular?

        • by gunnk (463227) <[ude.cnu.gpf.liam] [ta] [knnug]> on Thursday September 20, 2012 @10:07AM (#41398701) Homepage

          There are competing groups, but MakerBot was a sweet spot on openness, cost and ease of construction. That made the MakerBot Cupcake extremely popular. I have a Cupcake derivative that I built. I sourced some parts from MakerBot, others elsewhere, and fabricated some myself.

          You can now buy a closed-source 3D printer much cheaper elsewhere. You can build a completely open source printer (see the RepRap project) and customize it exactly to your needs.

          MakerBot is now offering a nice 3D printer (the Replicator 2) at much higher cost than its original sweet spot, but with all the disadvantages of a purely commercial product (no longer open and eminently hackable). Previous designs are still open, so they are free to go this way with their new printer if they like.

          Now, however, they're alienating their best buyers/contributors at the same time they are pricing themselves too expensively for folks that want a low-end turnkey system. When they took venture capital I think they backed themselves into this corner. Too bad... I think they approached open source 3D printing honestly and enthusiastically and contributed greatly to its progress. The venture capital forces them to become much more commercial, but their open yet accessible approach is what made them so popular to begin with. It's a no-win situation.

      • by hweimer (709734)

        The interesting difference here is the barrier to entry: The Replicator 2 is a physical object. It needs a supply chain, and shipping arrangements, and a manufacturing base to fork it. (Instead of in pure software where the only thing besides the people you need is some web hosting.) So, it'll take others quite some time to set up a fork of reasonable size and quality, and a fair amount of money.

        The funny thing is that a few weeks ago, someone tried to create a fork [kickstarter.com], but he got slashed pretty badly by the community and his Kickstarter campaign failed. I suppose this guy has a second chance now.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          The funny thing is that a few weeks ago, someone tried to create a fork [kickstarter.com], but he got slashed pretty badly by the community and his Kickstarter campaign failed. I suppose this guy has a second chance now.

          He didn't get funded because it seemed pretty scammy, especially considering the guy wanted half a million dollars.

          From the KS, answering what he plans to do with all that money:

          Raw Materials, Production and Quality Assurance.

          QA? Was he planning to hire dedicated QA people?

          Shipping and receiving.

          Funny, I can receive packages for free.

          Planned losses on international shipping.

          Are they actual, realized losses? If you know they're coming, why not adjust prices on the front end?

          Customer service portal.

          FOSS.

          Full time support staff (phones, email, and technical).

          How many? Are you included? What is the "technical" contact method, exactly?

          Replacement parts inventory.

          Should be built into the price of the replacement parts.

          Brick and mortar location for supporting and servicing the TangiBot.

          Office pa

        • by Thantik (1207112)

          The guy that did that had a few too many "trust me"s in his video, while also mentioning makerbot quite a bit. He didn't change anything on the design, he was merely looking to source the mass manufacturing to china and pump out the same product makerbot has. Open source isn't about jacking other peoples ideas and racing to the bottom of the profit ladder, it's about making improvements, and that guy didn't make ANY.

          • by QuasiSteve (2042606) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @02:06PM (#41402375)

            Open source isn't about jacking other peoples ideas

            "jack - Take (something) illicitly; steal"

            Pretty sure there's no theft there. Stop giving the RIAA/MPAA ammunition ;)

            More importantly, though...

            Open source [is] about making improvements, and that guy didn't make ANY.

            I don't remember seeing any such language in open source licenses. Most of them do explicitly explain that it's okay to take the open source material and sell it. Some licenses require the source to be made available when distributing products based on it. Some require you mention the license in question.
            Can you cite one which actually states that you can't "race to the bottom of the profit ladder" using the sources?

            I'm sure it's seen as a 'dick move', but then those who believe that should be prohibited should be working to change the license applied to the material.

            That said, the project did fail so those most likely to back the project already made their choice clear.

          • by toriver (11308)

            I am quite sure no open-source license has a clause that says "to redistribute this program you must improve it first.".

      • by citizenr (871508) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @10:58AM (#41399421) Homepage

        The interesting difference here is the barrier to entry: The Replicator 2 is a physical object. It needs a supply chain, and shipping arrangements, and a manufacturing base to fork it. (Instead of in pure software where the only thing besides the people you need is some web hosting.) So, it'll take others quite some time to set up a fork of reasonable size and quality, and a fair amount of money.

        Should be interesting to watch the fallout of this.

        you mean like this
        http://www.mbot3d.com/ [mbot3d.com]
        ? :)

        • by DrXym (126579)
          And maybe it is this wholesale forking / ripoff which motivated Makerbot to close themselves off this time around.
      • by cellocgw (617879)

        Well, if the 3D software community is anything like XDev, it'll be about 2 days after launch when the Replicator2 is rooted and CyanogenMod's equivalent is available for loading.

        • It's not the software design which is being closed-sourced. (At least, not alone.) It's the design of the box itself - previous Makerbots you could download the plans for every part, get them printed/lasercut/etc. whereever you choose, and build one yourself. Or submit changes to make it work better, which many did.

          Rooting it is irrelevant, really - the software on the box can be flashed over, no problem, IIUC. You still don't have access to the design work for the device itself - which was possible bef

  • No surprise (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I tried contributing to a FOSS game - there I found out there are ten times as many leechers looking to appropriate code (w/o citation) than there are talented people willing to write it. Then they started discussing commercial licensing and i called it quits.

    • by firex726 (1188453)

      Yea, abuse like that does seem to plague stuff like this.

      The idea of FOSS seems great, but the actual execution often times leaves something to be desired.

    • by HiThere (15173)

      That's why I prefer the AGPL3 license. The spongers don't bother me. The theives (those who close code that was written by others) do.

      N.B.: This is a personal preference. If you prefer the BSD-style license, it's perfectly valid. (And there ARE circumstances where I find it preferable. I was just listing my general preference.) But I notice that projects with a GPL style license tend to attract more contributors than those with the BSD style license. And that licenses that allow the code to be closed

  • by EdgePenguin (2646733) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @08:23AM (#41397583) Homepage
    How are people supposed to lock down an open source platform, and stop this being a truly disruptive technology? Won't somebody PLEASE thing of the rent seekers!!!??
  • I don't get it. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ledow (319597) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @08:57AM (#41397805) Homepage

    The people moaning are interesting to watch.

    If you think there's a licensing violation, sue their asses off.

    If you licensed loosely such that it allows such things, sure it's morally a little dubious but they are doing nothing "wrong".

    It's no worse than someone taking Firefox, changing the name and selling it off as something else. If they offer a better product by doing so, then isn't that precisely what the "evolution" of open source code is all about? But they haven't even USED your code (or you have given them permission to use your code in a closed-source way).

    It's like saying you're giving your book away for free and then when lots of people download it whining about how it took you a lot of effort to write it.

    I don't get the argument here. You licensed liberally, or they re-invented your licensed code. Surely imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

    I think people are just annoyed that others have worked out a way to make money from something that they have voluntarily given away.

    I'm all for open-source. I have contributions in open-source software. I write some of my own (crappy) software too. I'm hardly a nay-sayer here. But if what they did is illegal, sue them. If it's not, well any idiot could have done what they did and made the same money by the same method, including the original authors.

    What, exactly, is the problem here apart from feeling hard-done-by on something you explicitly allowed to happen?

    • Re:I don't get it. (Score:4, Informative)

      by firex726 (1188453) <firex726@@@yahoo...com> on Thursday September 20, 2012 @10:03AM (#41398655)

      I think the issue is they presented it as one thing initially to garner support and monetary donations then now that they have that are changing it to be more beneficial to them directly.

    • Re:I don't get it. (Score:5, Informative)

      by wytcld (179112) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @10:08AM (#41398717) Homepage

      If you think there's a licensing violation, sue their asses off.

      Have you ever had intellectual property stolen before, and talked to a lawyer about it? Unless you've got really deep pockets, you can't afford it. Because you're a small guy — not even in the country in this case — and they're well-capitalized by guys with very deep pockets who can afford the sort of well-connected lawyer who bills at $500 an hour and up. It doesn't matter how thoroughly you can document the whole thing, or that what you developed is absolutely essential to what the thief is selling. Unless you've got at least 10s of 1000s of dollars to speculate on the outcome in court, you can't even get into court with good enough representation to prevail.

      Depending on the courts as first line of defense is impractical. The courts belong to the big players, not the common folk. Especially in New York — where I once watch the opposing attorney openly, in court session, bribe the judge for a favorable outcome. Community opinion is sometimes the only defense we've got, especially if we can use the press to force thieves back into something like compliance with GPL licensing and the spirit of the movement.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      well, bitching and moaning is the only thing to do.
      you see, lots of people bought their devices because they were promising to be an open company and stay that way and now they're trying to turn (at least in the media) to Apple of 3d printing.

      how well they pull it off remains to be seen.

      but I would have been more interested in stuff that pushes the envelope, like more sophisticated dual materials printing.

    • by ledow (319597)

      So what you're all saying, basically, is a company told you what it "intended" to do and you gave it money on that basis, with no written contractual-type agreement, and then bitch when it didn't happen like that? Sorry, my sympathy lies elsewhere.

      And for all those that point out the expense of litigation, I point out that there's nothing to litigate because they HAVEN'T broken legally anything yet. And if they did, of course it costs to sue, but if you're right you'll get it back (and there are people an

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Yes they are douchebags (lets get that out of the way). But, this is not rocket science technology we are talking about. The DIY fabricator movements exists already and has tremendous momentum. Yes they were very visible and will continue to be so but in the eyes of the community it is a fail (for being greedy DBs) so any innovation will continue to happen without them. Its not like they have any chance of success, between the other DIY projects that are out there, the existing momentum in the community,

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      We already have the latter, it is called the GPL. You can't take contributions that belong to someone else and are GPLed license and close them up. The GPL should just be expanded to cover hardware.

  • by Sir_Kurt (92864) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @09:09AM (#41397941)

    I have not been able to glean what open source licence this project used, but for sure it was not the GPL. But THIS TYPE of misappropriation of code is the reason the GPL ought to be used for any kind of community project like this.

    If you use an open source licence that allows the code to be taken and closed then don't cry when others figure out how to profit from your work and deny you the fruits of your own frickin' labor.

    Kurt

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      I have not been able to glean what open source licence this project used, but for sure it was not the GPL. But THIS TYPE of misappropriation of code is the reason the GPL ought to be used for any kind of community project like this.

      If you use an open source licence that allows the code to be taken and closed then don't cry when others figure out how to profit from your work and deny you the fruits of your own frickin' labor.

      I believe it's OpenHardware, so its license is CC-BY-SA - in theory they can't lock

  • If it's cheap, far more people just aren't going to care about the license. Raspberry Pi is a good example- Yes, like the masses, I got one. Getting pretty frustrated now with the poor (nonexistent) documentation on the hardware, particularly with respect to the mechanical aspects of the design. I'd love to be proven wrong. Fact is, it's cheap and available, so it's popular.

    Make a 3D printer really cheap and/or really easy to use, and the demands for open source are quickly drowned out by the sounds of peop

    • Fact is, it's cheap and available, so it's popular.

      So's yo hypothetical momma, but that doesn't mean you have to be happy about the situation.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      what makerbot did here was make it more expensive, and their device was already on the more expensive scale of the hobby printers. so by making it more expensive they labeled it as prosumer.. except that in cameras hobby cameras cost more than prosumer :). and do more.

      prusa kits are starting at 800 bucks. ultimaker kits are like 1200euros.

  • What does he mean the hardware is going "closed source?"

    I have a commercial gantry for doing CNC plasma cutting. It's only 2'x2'. But nothing is stopping me from a bigger table utilizing the same design, same parts, and so on. My table certainly has never been "open source" in any way. But I can see it in front of me and that's as good as open.

    The only thing that matters in here is the software. As long as it is open source, or there are good open source software solutions available, then there's no pr

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      they didn't release entire sw stack this time, parts of their makerware program are closed source.
      and they used to publish parts diagrams and such.

  • Still a good company (Score:4, Interesting)

    by naroom (1560139) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @12:38PM (#41401057)

    Hi. I use the Makerbot Replicator professionally to make equipment for my lab. I'm also a member of the Makerbot Google Group [google.com], who largely share my views:

    (1) Good on them for going closed source. The Makerbot people have done a lot of work advancing the state of the art in consumer-level 3D printing technology. And they're being copied all over the place: there are kickstarters for near-identical models with shittier manufacturing that undercut their business. This is exactly what patents are made for, to protect innovation! And Makerbot Industries held off going closed source until they were forced to. Ultimately, I want Makerbot Industries to stay alive and keep being able to sell stuff so they can keep their R&D going. Also, they're great advertisers for 3D printing technology, and they're helping it gain mass appeal. More power to them.

    Closed source or not, 3D printing puts a ton of power in the hands of ordinary people. Who cares if the printer is patented?

    (2) People are feeling betrayed and that is really, really sad. See Occupy Thingiverse [thingiverse.com] for details. I really hope this doesn't end Thingiverse. But it is creating awareness of the Thingiverse license agreement, which I suppose is a good thing.

    (3) GOD DAMN THAT THING LOOKS AWESOME. I can't help but want the Replicator 2, it's gorgeous. It looks like the design idea here is "it does less stuff but does it better" - there's no ability to print ABS and no dual extrusion, but if it works as advertised, getting good prints out of it will be much easier.

    (4) It's almost annoying how fast they iterate. The original Replicator came out in January, and this thing's already out? WTF? I've barely had time to play with the previous one, and now the support community will be split between the two models. So it'll be harder to find info on the Replicator and not on the Replicator 2.

    (5) I don't know if I'll continue to support Makerbot Industries so much. Truth be, before this annoucement I was already considering a cheaper non-Makerbot 3D printer (e.g. the truly open-source RepRap). If Makerbot is going closed source all the way, that may be enough of a push to get me to buy something else. I'd be willing to pay more to support the open-source ideal.

    In short, if they're going pure capitalist, then I'm going to do the same to them.

    • Good on them for going closed source. The Makerbot people have done a lot of work advancing the state of the art in consumer-level 3D printing technology. And they're being copied all over the place: there are kickstarters for near-identical models with shittier manufacturing that undercut their business. This is exactly what patents are made for, to protect innovation!

      Protect innovation? Sounds like stifling competition to me. And here I thought that patents were supposed to promote the sciences and useful arts; can you show me where it says innovation in here? [wikipedia.org]

      How can you laud competition on the one hand and promote the rights of the first-to-market on the other? Those things stand in clear opposition to each other.

    • (1) Good on them for going closed source.
      5) ... If Makerbot is going closed source all the way, that may be enough of a push to get me to buy something else.

      Wait... what? So, let me paraphrase: "Yay on closed source! Now, get out of my way while I find something open source..."

      • by naroom (1560139) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @02:14PM (#41402463)

        Wait... what? So, let me paraphrase: "Yay on closed source! Now, get out of my way while I find something open source..."

        Yep! Turns out I can like both open-source and closed-source products. Open-source is a dream come true for flexibility and innovation, whereas closed-source products are generally more reliable and polished. Both have their place.

    • I care if the printer is patented. MakerBot is now something it wasnt before, and its status in community will be reflected as such. Its not wrong to be a little upset at an Open Source project going Dark Side. Makerbot made a decision, good on them, but dont try and tell us we cant feel a bit betrayed. Please dont try and make it out like nothing has changed.
  • When I can design and build a durable and functional garlic press with a 3d printer, I'm buying one.

    Until then, I'm just an interested spectator.

  • Mr. 3-D printer.. meet Mr. sledgehammer and Mr. Sawzall.

  • I will just get the replicator 1 up and running, then torrent all the prior releases and replicate future replicator versions for free.
  • The lawsuit I have no doubt that is coming down the pike is an automotive or consumer electronics corporation suing the end-user, printing service (if involved) *and* the 3D printer manufacturer for theft of IP and 1000% profits for the 'copying' of some cheap-ass, proprietary - but necessary - part.

    If Vegas was offering odds, I'd but $50 down it will happen within two years. Hell, it's probably already codified in the ongoing Top Secret trade pacts that all our wonderful governments are negotiating on ou

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