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MakerBot attempts to embrace the open-source community with its new Labs platform



The topic of open source has been a touchy one for MakerBot over the past decade. The one-time 3D-printing darling was the subject of some serious smack talk among the maker community when it stopped disclosing machine design in 2012 — a departure from the company’s roots as in the open-source Rep-Rap community.

Announced this week, MakerBot Labs doesn’t mark a full return to those roots, but it does find the company carving out a niche for the DIY community that was once a driving force in its rapid growth.

“I understand the history,” CEO Nadav Goshen told TechCrunch during a phone call this week, “This is one step in the direction. It’s a step to understand that there are limitations to openness. Openness for us doesn’t mean we have to compromise on quality or ease of use. We’re trying to take responsibility for both.”

Goshen became CEO earlier this year, the third position to take the position since co-founder Bre Pettis took his leave in 2015. In a lengthy conversation with TechCrunch earlier this year, the executive outlined the company’s new business model, which is primarily focused on the educational market, with professionals in need of prototyping taking the No. 2 spot.

Over the past several years, hobbyists have trickled down into third place, with many departing for more DIY-friendly platforms. In recent years, the company has focused its efforts on making its products more user-friendly, arguably further alienating makers in the process.