3D printing, like all blossoming new industries, saw an explosion of competing devices, all vying for our attention -- and disposable income. A contraction was going to happen eventually and with MakerBot last week cutting 100 staff and closing its three stores, we might already be at the start of something more significant.
A brief announcement on MakerBot's website confirmed rumours that the company had shuttered its bricks-and-mortar operations and dropped a portion of its workforce as part of a restructure:
As a company that’s focused on leading-edge innovation, we’ve learned to embrace change in order to stay focused.
Today, we at MakerBot are re-organizing our business in order to focus on what matters most to our customers. As part of this, we have implemented expense reductions, downsized our staff and closed our three MakerBot retail locations.
With these changes, we will focus our efforts on improving and iterating our products, growing our 3D ecosystem, shifting our retail focus to our national partners and expanding our efforts in the professional and education markets.
While the precise number of affected employees isn't specified, a less-than-cheerful post by an anonymous source on Reddit yesterday claims "about 100 people" were escorted from MakerBot's Brooklyn factory.
MakerBot's post on the matter mentions a shift in focus to better accommodate "professional and education markets", with "national partners" taking on more general retails burdens.
From the sounds of things, appealing to prosumers wasn't profitable enough -- not unsurprising given the start-up and ongoing costs of 3D printing remain high, despite the growing market of cheaper hardware.