Makerbot makes a profit

Makerbot under attack: Stratasys class action lawsuit

Because of the vacation time, I haven't even gotten to work on the latest news about Stratasys / Makerbot. In mid-July, two pension funds filed a class action lawsuit against Makerbot and Stratasys executives for knowingly concealing major difficulties with the fifth generation of Makerbot prior to launch and for exaggerating profit and revenue expectations. This spring, the forecasts were gradually cashed in and the problems public, which led to a sharp drop in the price of Stratasys shares and to layoffs at Makerbot (EngineeringSpot reported here).

The class action lawsuit is based, among other things, on an article on 3dprint.com in which (now no longer visible) photos of a whiteboard were to be seen. In the meeting, Makerbot's management team discussed massive problems with the new Smart Extruder, which was first installed in Generation 5 - and that in April 2014, i.e. before it was launched on the market. However, the presentation of the fifth generation was not postponed, the devices with the poorly functioning extruder were delivered.

The complaint, which can be viewed in PDF format on the Internet, further reports that employees at BotFarm, a Makerbot division that prints demo and customer parts, reported massive difficulties with the fifth generation printers themselves after they reported the devices about a month before delivery had received. The extruders had to be replaced after a day or two, which in turn led to a shortage of smart extruders at Makerbot. As a result, defective extruders were reprocessed for the BotFarm, which resulted in an even faster failure of the extruders. According to a statement in the application, components that were actually printed on Replicator 2 models were presented as Generation 5 printouts. After all, components of inferior quality were installed.

Makerbot could no longer bear warranty costs

The difficulties with the extruders in turn led to exploding costs for warranty services, because the terms and conditions forbade repairs or even maintenance of blocked extruders by the customer. The costs finally overwhelmed Makerbot and had to be covered by the mother Stratasys. This in turn probably resulted in the tough austerity program that cost almost 300 Makerbot employees their jobs in the spring of 2015.

In the class action lawsuit, plaintiffs are seeking compensation for their losses from the crash of Stratasys stock from around $ 80 on February 2, 2015 to around $ 37 on April 30, 2015.

Hard times for Makerbot and Stratasys. The former stars of the RepRap scene had to take harsh criticism from the community for a long time. Apparently the spirit of the first days, when customers were asked to print Makerbot parts to order because their own production capacities were overloaded, was completely thrown overboard by managers driven by costs and profits. And in the US, throwing banana commodities on the market really isn't a good idea - especially as a publicly traded company. It is true that the Smart Extruder has been improved - the loss of image and share price has already happened.

According to reports from Heise.de, Alexander Hafner left Makerbot's European headquarters in May 2015 - this is particularly spicy because it came about when Makerbot bought parts from Hafner's company. "Hafner's office" had been the company's EU distributor up to that point. Founder and Makerbot figurehead Bre Pettis, who moved to the parent company after the purchase by Stratasys, has since left the company.