July 14, 2015 | By Kira

In the 3D printing industry’s short history, there are few—if any—names capable of bringing up such fervent, hot-blooded and disparaging opinions as MakerBot. And yet, it’s hard to feel bad for the once-promising young company. Since closing its retail locations and laying-off a fifth of its staff back in April, the company has been laying low, probably believing things couldn’t get any worse. Now, that hope has come to an end. A class action lawsuit has been filed against the Stratasys-owned manufacturer claiming that they knowingly sold faulty, malfunctioning 3D printers to consumers. As a result of the lawsuit, the company’s stocks have already taken a hit, and its future is more questionable than ever.

The glitchy 3D printer in question in MakerBot’s 5th Generation Replicator, which quickly became known for its poor printing quality and recurring problems. In particular, the machine’s ‘Smart Extruder,’ promoted as a novel way to re-load filament, proved to be so poorly designed and prone to clogging that the printer would frequently become inoperable, forcing some users to replace it several times within the initial six-month warranty period.

The root of the problem can be clearly traced back to poor quality control, an overly-aggressive growth strategy, and the company’s inability to own up to their mistakes. “Defendants rushed MakerBot’s 5th generation printers to the market despite their knowledge of serious quality and reliability issues plaguing the printers,” states the District of Minnesota lawsuit. “Because the new MakerBot printers were so poorly designed and manufactured, significant number of purchasers demanded refunds, repairs, replacement printers or [parts], which were costly to MakerBot given that the 5th generation printers were under warranty. The replacements were equally flawed and prone to failure.”

Those are some fairly damning claims, found in the first few pages of the 125-page lawsuit alone. However, everyone makes mistakes, and if MakerBot was aware of the problem and determined it fix it, surely they could have avoided this whole mess in the first place. 

Unfortunately MakerBot reportedly preferred to turn a blind-eye instead of tackling them head-on. “Numerous former MakerBot employees confirmed that Defendants were fully informed that the 5th generation printers were severely flawed due to rampant quality control and product development issues at MakerBot. However, Defendants failed to disclose any of this to investors.”

While the class action lawsuit was only filed July 1st, 2015, complaints have been pouring in from customers since the printer’s release in early 2014. Mechanical Engineer and unhappy MakerBot user Marc even started a petition over at Change.org to voice his frustration and demand change. “MakerBot believe[s] that it is acceptable to print 10 models and have the printer fail, and purchase a new print head worth $175US,” he wrote in his online petition against MakerBot. “I’m sure if most customers knew this at the time of purchase they wouldn’t spend the $2899US on the product.” In addition to the frustration of each individual user, the lawsuit alleges that investors have suffered millions in losses as a result of the ‘fradulent scheme.' 

The lawsuit is still in its early stages, and MakerBot has yet to make a public statement. After a series of poor decisions and wrongdoing, they’ll finally get what’s been coming.



Posted in 3D Printing Company



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Mr. Never Makerbot Again wrote at 7/18/2015 12:12:46 PM:

I was one of the people that bought an original Makerbot TOM. It was an okay printer for the day. I knew that the company was going down the drain when they dropped support for the early models. Oh how hard it must have been to keep an inventory of parts for the TOM along side of the toilet supplies. On a positive note, Makerbot can serve as an educational example to all those that build a business. Do not be like Makerbot with big headed management that lack loyalty to your roots. The Makerbot story is how a good start with the wrong CEO can turn to Makerflop, the next generation of printer that makes a toilet flushing sound.

An Ex-Makerbot Employee wrote at 7/16/2015 4:03:41 AM:

So much truth about these assholes. Killed their production staff with pointless overtime hyper-strict attendance policies just to cut over half of its employee back in April. Of course those mainly in the entry level and right before a measly 3% raise afforded to employees who had survived a year in that hell hole. Everyday leading up to that was littered with returned and broken down machines that needed to be "reworked". Even their largest machine the Z-18 priced at over $7,000 didn't make proper sales, I think no less than 1,000 of those machines alone are sitting in the warehouse right now Some being there since the model's inception early last year. Sorry but that turned from a promising electronics company from when I started 2 years ago to nothing but a bunch of cut-throat liars that took advantage of their employees...and now some millionaires were pulled in for that ride (boo-hoo).

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