MakerBot, the New York-born company that helped popularize 3-D printing along with the unlikely idea of New York as a new manufacturing center, will stop making its own products. The company announced April 25 that its line of desktop 3-D printers will soon be produced by St. Petersburg, Fla.-based contract manufacturer Jabil Circuit Inc.
The move follows several rounds of layoffs at MakerBot in recent years, as well as a revolving door of CEOs, as the entire industry has grappled with an unpredictable consumer market for 3-D printers. Though still headquartered in the New York borough of Brooklyn, MakerBot has been part of the Minneapolis-based industrial 3-D printing company Stratasys since 2013, when it was purchased for $400 million.
Earlier this month, Crain's New York Business reported that MakerBot was shedding manufacturing space in Brooklyn's Industry City. The company will continue to keep its repair and logistics divisions in the Sunset Park location, with engineering, sales and marketing operating out of its headquarters in the MetroTech building in downtown Brooklyn. Crain's New York Business is a sister publication of Plastics News.
In an interview, CEO Jonathan Jaglom said that going forward, MakerBot would focus on the educational and professional markets, but was optimistic about sales to consumers over the long term. The outsourcing move would not only shift production to less-expensive regions outside of New York but also save MarkerBot from having to react to the ebbs and flows of a new and still emerging consumer market.
"It's no secret New York is expensive," Jaglom said. "But it's about flexibility, and volatility. Working with a contract manufacturer allows you to address the volatility."