Despite often being pragmatic to the point of dispassionate, it turns out that I am not immune to hype, particularly when it comes to 3D printers.  So, I fell for the lure of MakerBot’s announcement of a new product reveal on December 11th featuring cryptic and tantalizing images of glass and angular enclosures. 

MakerBot Method Teaser

It was a delightful marketing ploy that tugged our emotional heartstrings and PLA filament things. And then the reveal…

The
MakerBot

Method

The MakerBot Method–a deep-space hibernation pod!  A surprising, no, shocking reveal that solidifies MakerBot as part of the vanguard leading the industrial revolution while using their foreknowledge of an impending robot revolution to help humanity prepare for off-earth cryosleep until which point it is safe to return for reanimation and recolonization.*deep breath*

Wait. What’s that you say? This is actually a desktop 3D printer.  Oh…  That makes more sense, I suppose. Well, props to the design team for making it look like the coolest little hypersleep chamber. Ahh, this video make it all clear:

As the first 3D printer for MakerBot in two years, Method is a new class of 3D printer for MakerBot described as ‘The First Performance 3D Printer” which they define as “bridging the gap between industrial 3D printer accuracy and desktop 3D printer accessibility.” It builds on patented Stratasys 3D printer tech and the Replicator line, in particular, the Replicator Z18 that launched as a printer with “The best price-to-performance ratio in the extra-large, professional 3D printer category”.

That September 2016 announcement for the new Replicator products was the point MakerBot refocused on professionals and educators. It’s a trend seen across the manufacturing industry where manufacturers starting with a focus on the consumer market are exploring the shift to other markets, particularly, the professional and educational markets.

What’s most shocking, at least from my vantage point, is the under-adoption of additive manufacturing in those sectors. In order to achieve penetration, manufacturers are focused on delivering exceptional reliability, print quality, and ease of use.  The way to do this is through improved design and engineering and by controlling the build environment and materials but without the high cost of industrial grade printers.  This is exactly what it appears MakerBot is attempting to do.

And the price? It’s right in line with the Z18. In fact, it’s the same price – $6499. While the Method has a smaller build volume, MakerBot is touting the Method’s dimensional accuracy of ±0.2mm with speeds up to 2x faster than other desktop 3D printers. It ships Q1 of 2019 and pre-order is available now.

The Specs

Layer Resolution Range: 20 – 400 microns
Extruders: Dual Performance Extruders (Model & Support)
Supported Materials: MakerBot Precision Materials (Tough, PLA, PVA), MakerBot Specialty Materials (PETG, PVA-M, more to come)
Build Volume: 7.5 x 7.5 x 7.75 in (19 L x 19 W x 19.6 H cm)
Build Surface: Spring Steel Build Plate with Grip Surface
Size: 17.2 x 16.3 x 25.6 in (43.7 L x 41.3 W x 64.9 H cm)
Connectivity: WiFi, Ethernet, USB Drive
Power Need: 100 – 240V / 4A, 50-60 Hz / 400 W max.
Price: $6499
More Info: MakerBot

Will the MakerBot Method live up to the hype? Will MakerBot’s move pay off? Will I secure a stasis pod before the robot rising? Stay tuned…

Author

Dan Slaski is the Lead Renegade for Renegade Prototyping and your new secret weapon/best friend for design domination. A Virginia Tech Mechanical Engineer with a long list of credentials to accompany his years of industry experience in fields including the medical, robotics, and military sectors. He has designed assemblies with hundreds of unique parts and moving components that have gone high into the earth's atmosphere, deep below the oceans and everything in between. All of this has contributed to his vast portfolio of knowledge dealing with difficult engineering problems, and a wide repertoire of skills in prototyping, manufacturing, and sourcing. Yet he still finds a way to remain humble. If you have a project that demands success you need to get on his client list ASAP.