The 3-D printing pioneer MakerBot is downsizing.
The New York-based company recently laid off staff and closed its three retail stores, including a flagship in the Nolita neighborhood.
"As a company that's focused on leading-edge innovation, we've learned to embrace change in order to stay focused," read a note on MakerBot's website confirming layoffs, closures and other cost cuts. "We at MakerBot are reorganizing our business in order to focus on what matters most to our customers."
A company spokesman declined to comment on specifics, but a report by a tech blog called Motherboard estimated that about 100 employees, or 20 percent of MakerBot's staff, were given pink slips.
Founded in 2009 in downtown Brooklyn by Bre Pettis, MakerBot was acquired by Minneapolis-based Stratasys Ltd. in 2013 for $403 million. Growing rapidly, it opened stores in Manhattan, Boston and Greenwich, Conn., and moved into a 55,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Brooklyn's Industry City.
Despite MakerBot's recent troubles, a spokesman for Industry City said the company is maintaining its space there and still plans to expand at the site later this year.
MakerBot has been repeatedly hyped as a successful example of New York's manufacturing and technology industries. In January, Alicia Glen, the city's deputy mayor for housing and economic development, specifically cited MakerBot as an example of an expanding local manufacturer in need of space, infrastructure and talent in an interview with Capital New York. Glen did not reply to a request for comment.
Unlike fellow New York City competitor Shapeways, which uses 3-D printing to make products for its community of designers, MakerBot sells printers directly to consumers. It's a model that some analysts have criticized as lacking long-term viability, and consumers seem to find the novelty wearing thin, judging by reports of recent declines in sales at Stratasys.
Investors, too, are shying away. Stratasys' stock, trading near $53, is down 60 since September and hit a 52-week low of $51.50 on March 31. MakerBot is now on its second CEO since Mr. Pettis stepped down in the fall to take on a new role with Stratasys.
MakerBot's local store opened in 2012, but shuttered over the weekend. It had boasted a 3-D photo booth and other gimmicks to attract shoppers.
Despite the retail closures, the company still sells its printers, including a larger version for $2,899, at Home Depot and Sam's Club.