Printrbot have closed down production
We are saying goodbye to Printrbot, at least for now. The American based company have announced, that they are stopping operations. The founder Brook Drumm explained their decision to stop the production, giving some insight behind the decision being made.
Over recent years the 3D printing market have grown quit a lot. 3D technology from the health sector to the automotive industry is showing promise. However it also means that the competition is becoming more steep. And for some companies like Printrbot it might end up with them going bankrupt.
Starting out with successful Kickstarter
Printrbot was founded in 2011 after a launch of a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign. The initial goal was to produce 50 printers, but after lunching the campaign the interest quickly showed. Over a thousand orders was placed and the foundation for the company was created with an early consumer base.
The company set out to make 3D printing cheaper and easier for the everyday user. Beginning their production, the first parts of their printers were a combination of printed parts and wood. At the time this provided a great deal in an otherwise high priced market. Comparing the first printer with the Makerbot’s CupCake that went for $750 and had a 20+ hour assembly time, the Printrbot kit cost were only $500 and could be put together in less than an hour. While the company did have a successful start when entering the market, new companies quickly came along to compete.
Growing market and competitive struggles
As mentioned the market has been growing in various sectors. For a while it also seemed to be going very well for Printrbot. They gathered $2 millions in sales by the second year. This further increased to $ 12 million over the next couple of years. And with this the company developed their printers as well, moving away from wood and instead implementing folded steel while also pioneering the impressive feature of automatic bed leveling. In 2014 Printrbot released their Printrbot Simple Metal, that would become their key product moving forward. With these upgrades the previously inexpensive cost of production got higher as well.
Along with the growing market new players from overseas saw the opportunities as well. With the possibilies to produce 3D printers at a cheaper cost not previously seen. Today you can easily find a printer far cheaper than the $500 that Printrbot’s first printer was set to. With this new challenge Printrbot did make an attempt in changing markets. In 2016 they introduced their new version of the Simple Metal with features such as linear rails and cloud-based slicing to compete in a premium market against companies like Ultimaker etc. at a price level of over $1,000. However their established consumer base didn’t necessarily follow along as willingly.
Final attempt to adapt
The fit for the new low-cost manufactures in the market can be taken up to debate. While there are other companies that have come out of top and the market seems to have space for both the entry level printers as well as more expensive and advanced versions it is not always easy to navigate and find the spot when a market evolves. Printrbot even tried to implement the overseas manufacturers like FlashForge with the Printrbot Easy.
While this decision went against their value base they did keep their original printers as well. However, the attempt to adapt in this way, does not seem to have payed of in the long run, and now the Printrbot has closed the doors. Over the years the company has build a following, some of which got their start in 3D printing with the launch of Printrbot’s first machine and they will be missed. It does however seem that the maker spirit is still going strong, and it will probably not be the last time we hear from Brook and the Printrbot team.
You can learn more about the reasons behind in this interview of founder Brook Drumm:
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