Printrbot Shuts Its Doors After 7 Years. What’s it Mean for 3D Printing?
Kyle Maxey posted on July 27, 2018 |

Printrbot, one of the first 3D printer manufacturers that leveraged crowdfunding to kickstart its business, has decided to close up shop. In a statement posted on the company website, Printrbot owner Brook Drumm disclosed:

“Printrbot is closed.

Low sales led to hard decisions.

We will be forever grateful to all the people we met and served over the years.

Thank you all.”

This news will come a blow to many at-home tinkerers, as Printrbot was known for building quality and affordable 3D printers like its Simple model.

Though Printrbot was expanding its business by adding its machines to the stock carried by brick and mortars like Radio Shack (maybe not the best company to rely on), and expanding its offerings to include a miniature CNC machine, the California company could not compete with lower-cost 3D printer offerings being made overseas.

And that has to make anyone interested in the hobbyist 3D printer marker wonder whether the days of desktop 3D printing startups is coming to an end?

Sure, there may have been a number of reasons that Drumm’s company had to shut its doors. Maybe Printrbot wasn’t numbers people, maybe the demand for hobbyist 3D printers fell off along with the hype for these machines, maybe Chinese printers are taking over the market. Maybe, fused deposition modeling just got too stale, and users were more interested in the products that companies like Formlabs are able to produce for just a bit more money. 

Whatever the case may be, I think it can be said that we’re seeing the natural consolidation cycle that usually occurs in any new technological field, shaping the industry into what it will look like when its fully mature.  If I had to guess, a few companies like Formlabs will serve the Maker, homebrew innovator market sector, but the majority of 3D printing sales will be dominated by the two big players, Stratasys and 3D Systems. Which one of those companies emerges as the Nike to the other’s Reebok isn’t that clear to me. Maybe that simile never happens. What does happen, however, is the disappearance of many 3D printing startups like Printrbot. 

They did an excellent job at fueling the hype surrounding 3D printing, and showed thousands of people what 3D printing could do, and its limitations. But today, their products just aren’t that relevant and, in the end, 3D printing has matured from tinkerer’s toy to a stable manufacturing technology.  

As harsh as it sounds, the death of Printrbot is a good sign for 3D printing technology, and the market as a whole. 

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