Makerbot: Open Source or Closed, don’t insult your customers

There’s been a lot of noise and drama surrounding the release of the MakerBot Replicator 2.  I honestly think that the Replicator 2 will be a success regardless of whether it’s Open Source or not, and I think that many people who don’t give a shit about Open Source but want an affordable printer with affordable printable material will buy this.  Hell, I was going to buy this thing.  I’ve wanted a 3D printer of my own for a while, but the problem is that RepRaps and Makerbots had a ton of problems, and while I helped with the build for the Thing-O-Matic at VHS, I honestly didn’t use the 3D printer much.  The main reason was the fact that I couldn’t find modelling software that I liked, and I didn’t trust Skeinforge when it said that 1 cm was really 1 cm.

There’s also the fact that the 3D printer had a ton of problems.  Bearings would keep falling off, and it pretty much always required repair.  The fact that you couldn’t leave the Makerbot unattended was the dealbreaker for building anything complex.

So, while I’m sure the RepRap Prusa is a much better machine than the Thing-O-Matic, I decided that 3D Printing wasn’t my thing.  Then I saw the Replicator 2, and I thought that it would be cool to pick up.  I didn’t initially care that it wasn’t open source.  However, I did care when I saw this blog post, and this in particular:

To those who are saying we are illegally hijacking open source or building something on “the backs of others,” we are not abandoning the RepRap community. In fact we believe everyone involved should be very proud of what we (the community) and Makerbot have accomplished. Now MakerBot is growing up.

Seriously, as someone who makes a living on Open Source software which is an Open Source Basis for a Proprietary Product, I take offense to the concept that Open Source is for children.  If being entirely proprietary is being “grown up” then I don’t ever want to grow up.  I like the fact that I work on Open Source every day, and I don’t mind that my employer uses it in a proprietary product.  What I don’t like is to have someone think they’re better than me because they make a proprietary product, which is exactly why I won’t give Bre and Co any money.  It’s a shame, because I really like this Replicator 2 product and it does fit my needs, but I would rather not buy from a company which appears to have contempt for its own community.